MacArthur Fellows Program

Wilma Alpha Subra

Environmental Health Scientist | Class of 1999

Environmental Health Scientist
New Iberia, Louisiana
56 at time of award
Published July 1, 1999

About Wilma's Work

Wilma Subra is a chemist and an environmentalist who helps ordinary citizens to understand, cope with, and combat toxic chemicals in their communities.

Dozens of toxic sites across the state of Louisiana have been cleaned up as a result of her activity as a scientist and community organizer. Subra works with families, nonprofit groups, universities, and government agencies to test soil and water, to interpret test data, and to advocate for political and regulatory reform. She has worked with communities on health problems stemming from wetland destruction, groundwater contamination, waste streams, landfills, pesticide misuse, radioactive oil-field waste, incinerators, and injection wells. She led a multiyear campaign to close the Marine Shale Processors in East St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, which was licensed as a recycling facility but operated as a hazardous waste incinerator. She also worked with citizens of Grand Bois, Louisiana, the EPA, and the Federal Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry to close an open, oil field waste dump that has compromised the health of Grand Bois residents.


Subra serves as president of the Subra Company, Inc., in New Iberia, Louisiana, which she founded in 1981.

Subra received a B.S. (1965) and an M.S. (1966) from the University of Southwestern Louisiana.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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