Lala Kounta is a Fellow in the African Futures Research Leadership Program at Michigan State University, in the Spatial and Community Ecology Lab (SpaCE Lab). She has a background in physics and oceanography. After obtaining Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in physics, she completed Master’s research in engineering sciences, specializing in meteorology, oceanography and dry land management. She obtained her PhD in environmental sciences at Sorbonne University (France) and also a PhD in oceanography and climate change at Cheikh Anta Diop University (Senegal) in 2019. Her PhD dissertation focused on the circulation in the eastern tropical north Atlantic off West Africa, a region where coastal community strongly depends on the ocean which provides marines resources and employment for millions of people. From 2019-2022 she was a Postdoctoral researcher in physical oceanography and climate change at the Laboratoire de physique de l’atmosphère et de l’Océan Siméon Fongang (LPAO-SF) of Cheikh Anta Diop University and a Lecturer in different disciplines (oceanography, thermodynamics, probability and statistics, costal climate, climate variability and ocean modeling) at Senegalese universities. Her research aims to understand the influence of global warming on ocean circulation and marine ecosystems especially extreme events like marine heat waves (MHW). MHW have major ecological impacts in marine ecosystems including biodiversity loss and changes in species behavior or performance, loss of genetic diversity and adaptive capacity, economic impacts from changes in fishery catch rates and mortality of species. MHW can potentially affect the life stages of species (i.e. larvae, newly settled juveniles, older juveniles and adults) and indirectly influence trophic relationships and community structure. Lala is currently researching ecological impacts from climate change and climate intervention across ecosystems, with a focus on marine systems.


  • Oceanography
  • Ecological impacts from climate change
  • Marine Heat Waves
  • Extreme Events


  • PhD, Environmental Science, 2019

    Sorbonne University, France

  • PhD, Physical Oceanography, 2019

    Cheikh Anta Diop University, Senegal

  • MS, Physics & Research in Engineering Sciences, 2012, 2013

    Cheikh Anta Diop University, Senegal

  • BA, Physics and Chemistry, 2011

    Cheikh Anta Diop University, Senegal