Tulane officially opens $1 million dead zones challenge

By Mike Strecker, Tulane University
June 29, 2015

 Tulane University has announced the next phase of an international competition that will award $1 million to the entrepreneur, researcher or inventor with the best plan to reduce the amount of crop fertilizer entering the world’s lakes and oceans through storm water runoff.

Such runoff from the nation’s farmlands is the primary cause of hypoxia, oxygen-deprived water that causes massive fish kills and annual “dead zones” in waters throughout the world. 

The contest “Tulane University Nitrogen Reduction Challenge” is funded by Phyllis Taylor, president of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation and a member of the board of Tulane. The $1 million prize was first announced in February 2014 with a call for letters of interest from potential participants. Nearly 100 such responses were received. These individuals and others with nitrogen-reducing ideas should register for the Challenge athttps://challenge.tulane.edu no later than September 15, and submit their one page proposal. Those submitting the most viable one-page proposals will be invited to create a 20-page technical explanation, including descriptions of their team, resources and capacity for implementing their proposal.   

An Advisory Committee of 18 scientists, environmentalists, entrepreneurs, farmers and other national experts will select five finalists from these entries. These finalists will test their proposals on farms during the 2016 growing season.     

“Two finalist will be chosen from this group and one of these will be our ultimate winner,” says Rick Aubry, assistant provost for Social Entrepreneurship and Community Engagement and professor of practice at Tulane.  

The Tulane Nitrogen Reduction Challenge is one of the country’s latest Grand Challenges, a response to President Obama’s call for organizations, philanthropists and universities to identify and pursue solutions to today’s most pressing problems.