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Tulane Offers $1M Prize to Solve Dead Zone Dilemma

When it comes to bringing life back to the Dead Zone, Tulane is putting up $1 million. Thanks to a grant from philanthropist Phyllis Taylor of the Patrick Taylor Foundation, the Uptown university is offering a grand prize for a solution to the area of the Gulf of Mexico that is deprived of oxygen every summer due to Mississippi River runoff.

The Dead Zone, which grows in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of algae produced by fertilizer-loaded Mississippi River runoff from the midwest, was estimated to be doubled in size in 2013 as compared to 2012. It clocked in at around 5,840 square miles, according to NOAA. Since oxygen is deprived in the area off the coast of Louisiana, fish can't survive.


With the Zone only growing, Tulane is issuing a Grand Challenge to the community to come up with an innovative solution to the oxygen deprivation, which is known as hypoxia. The $1 million prize will be awarded for a "market based" solution.


"When university president Scott Cowen and the Tulane team accepted my challenge to develop a grand prize competition, my goals were two-fold," said Taylor. To inspire a broad community of innovators both within Tulane and beyond to work together in addressing an important worldwide problem, and to encourage other like-minded philanthropists to join my efforts at Tulane by either supporting this challenge or by developing additional Grand Challenge prizes to address equally critical social issues."


The prize, which is open to anyone worldwide, will be awarded to a team that achieves the goal, rather than simply the one that presents the best idea.


For more information, visit the Grand Challenge Prize website. 

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