Dr. Nigella Hillgarth is a biologist who served as the Executive Director of the Birch Aquarium, the outreach arm of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, from 2002 to 2014. Among other achievements during her tenure, Dr. Hillgarth developed one of the first major exhibits on climate change in the US. Prior to her work at Birch Aquarium, she served as Executive Director of the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City, the largest Bird Park in the country, where she collaborated on conservation efforts for birds in the Galapagos islands, Peru and Argentina.
From 2014 to 2017, Dr. Hillgarth served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the New England Aquarium, where she raised the profile of the Aquarium’s global conservation and research work by founding the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, as well as developing a vision for the future of the Aquarium and the surrounding Boston waterfront. An avid photographer of the natural world, Dr. Hillgarth was the 2019 Climate Art Fellow for the Climate Science Alliance, and worked on visualizations of ocean-atmosphere interactions and climate with the National Science Foundation Center for Aerosol Impacts on Chemistry of the Environment at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She is now working on a threatened birds photographic project.
Dr. Hillgarth received a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Oxford University in the UK, as well as a PhD in Evolutionary Biology. She has conducted research on behavioral ecology and evolution of birds in many parts of the world, including Europe, India, Thailand, South America, and the United States.
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