Dr. Nigella Hillgarth


Research Scientist

Nigella Hillgarth is an environmental advocate and photographer concerned with the impacts of climate change on ocean and coastal ecosystems. She combines her science background with photography to develop shows designed to engage and teach the public about environmental issues, especially climate change. Her work on Greenland ice and sea level rise has been shown in New York, Boston and San Diego. Other work has focused on coastal birds and climate change. See link on photography website for more information: https://www.nhillgarthphotography.com/birds

Recently Nigella was appointed 2019 Climate Art Fellow. This year’s fellowship is sponsored through a unique collaboration between the Climate Science Alliance and partners at the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation and the Center for Aerosol Impacts on Chemistry of the Environment(CAICE) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

This summer, Dr. Hillgarth is working with CAICE researchers to explore the role of atmospheric chemistry and movement of microbes to tell the story of a changing climate and its impact on the earth and its inhabitants. The art that emerges from this partnership will be utilized to help better engage with local communities on climate impacts and solutions that can lead to informed decisions that enhance our resilience to climate change impacts. See weblink for more information and images: https://www.climatesciencealliance.org/single-post/2019/06/13/Meet-Nigella-Hillgarth-Our-Newest-Affiliated-Artist

Nigella Hillgarth lives in San Diego, and is also a visiting scientist at the Center for Ecosystem Sentinels, University of Washington, as well as a founding member of Ocean Collectiv – solutions for a healthy ocean. Before that, Nigella was President & CEO of the New England Aquarium in Boston where she raised the profile of the Aquarium’s global conservation and research work by founding the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life in June 2016, as well as developing a vision for the future of the Aquarium and surrounding Boston waterfront. Earlier Nigella was Executive Director of the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego and, directed the first major climate change exhibit on the West Coast. Nigella was born in Ireland and received her Bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Oxford University in the UK, as well as her Ph.D in Evolutionary Biology at Oxford. She then came to the States for a post-doc at the University of California, Riverside and later The University of Washington working with John Wingfield and Sievert Rohwer. Nigella then moved to the University of Utah as an Assistant Research Professor studying the interactions of behavior, disease and genetics. She then transitioned into environmental nonprofit administration becoming the Executive Director of the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake before moving to the Birch Aquarium.

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