Robinson Fulweiler: The Immortal Life of Nitrogen

TUE, JUN 3, 2014 (42:07)

Without nitrogen there would be no life’no me, no you, no blue whale, no Atlantic cod, no Antarctic krill. But too much nitrogen leads to a series of negative consequences. Human activities have more than doubled the amount of nitrogen cycling through the biosphere in the past 100 years, and in doing so we have introduced large amounts of nitrogen to coastal waters. This excess nitrogen has led to eutrophication, loss of submerged aquatic vegetation, harmful algal blooms, increased low oxygen conditions and dead zones, fish kills, and loss of biodiversity. Fortunately, we can take steps to mitigate this excess nitrogen and to decrease future inputs to marine waters. Fulweiler will tell the story of how one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century transformed our planet and how each of us can help save our coastal ocean through simple, easily adaptable changes.

+ BIO: Robinson Fulweiler

Robinson “Wally” Fulweiler finished her Ph.D. at the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island in 2007 and went on to do a postdoc at Louisiana State University. She came to Boston University in August 2008 and was received tenure in April 2014. She is a biogeochemist and ecosystems ecologist, whose research is focused on answering fundamental questions about energy flow and biogeochemical cycling of nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and silica), carbon, and oxygen in a variety of environments. Her research has included coastal watershed mass balances of major biogenic elements in New England (C, N, P, Si), the biogeochemistry of nitrogen in coastal marine ecosystems, especially sediments, and wetland ecology in coastal Louisiana. Her recent focus has been on how climate change may influence the nitrogen cycle in estuarine and shelf systems and how anthropogenic impacts alter coastal nutrient cycles.

New England Aquarium