President, CEO New England Aquarium
Dr. Nigella Hillgarth
Since joining the New England Aquarium in 2014 as President and CEO, Dr. Nigella Hillgarth has been working to raise the profile of the Aquarium’s global conservation and research work.
Born in rural Ireland and educated at Oxford University, Hillgarth arrived at the Aquarium after serving 12 years as Executive Director of the Birch Aquarium at UC San Diego—part of the world-renowned Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Prior to her work at the 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 research programs on penguins in South America, as well as conservation efforts for marine birds in the Galapagos, Peru, and Argentina.
A distinguished biologist, Hillgarth has conducted research expeditions all over the world including in Britain, India, Thailand, Antarctica, and the Amazon.
Vice President, Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium
Chief Scientist, Fisheries and Habitat Conservation
John W. Mandelman, Ph.D.
B.A., University of Rochester, 1996, Psychology
Ph.D., Northeastern University, 2006, Biology
Research Interests: Dr. Mandelman is interested in fisheries ecology and the physiological ecology and conservation physiology of fishes. More specifically, his studies examine the physiological response and fitness consequences to acute and chronic stressors, and understanding and mitigating bycatch mortality in recreational and commercial fisheries.
Current Projects: Estimating and reducing recreational and commercial discard mortality in groundfish (haddock, cod); examining methods to reduce barotrauma and increase discard survival in cusk; and using satellite telemetry to examine spatial ecology and reduce discard mortality in the thorny skate.
Vice President and Senior Adviser, Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium, Chief Scientist, Marine Mammals
Scott D. Kraus, Ph.D.
B.A., College of the Atlantic, 1977, Human Ecology
M.S., University of Massachusetts, 1991, Biology
Ph.D., University of New Hampshire, 2002, Zoology
Research Interests: Dr. Kraus is interested in the biology and conservation problems facing North Atlantic right whales and conducts research on methods to reduce bycatch of marine mammals in fishing gear. His recent work on biological hotspots has been focused on trying to understand the connections between the physical oceanography and plankton, fish, and the aggregations of whales and dolphins that such locations attract. He has published more than 70 scientific papers on cetacean biology and conservation and is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Massachusetts Boston and the University of Southern Maine. Dr. Kraus’ recent research is increasingly focused on conservation issues faced by endangered marine species and habitats, and the difficulties of identifying what is needed by animals to survive in an increasingly urban ocean.
Current Projects: Right whale population biology and conservation, Bycatch Reduction Consortium, marine biological hotspots, and oceanographic factors that create them.
Director of Programs and Operations, Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium
B.S., Tufts University, Biology and Environmental Studies, 1993
Responsibilities: Ms. Taranovski leads the fisheries and aquaculture conservation programs within the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, including the Marine Conservation Action Fund. She is also responsible for the Anderson Cabot Center’s operations: managing program staff, overseeing the annual budget and planning processes, contract administration, and working closely with Anderson Cabot Center and other Aquarium staff on development, outreach, and general coordination across the institution.
Current Projects: Steering Board member of the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (www.ourgssi.org); engaging members of the seafood industry and conservation community to promote fisheries and aquaculture solutions; strengthening the utility of certification in advancing seafood sustainability.
Moira W. Brown, Ph.D
Ed, McGill University, 1977, Physical Education
B.S., McGill University, 1985, Renewable Resources
Ph.D., University of Guelph, 1995, Marine Biology
Research Interests: Dr. Brown’s focus is on the ecology, conservation, and behavior of North Atlantic right whales through studies on population biology, distribution, and demographics. She is interested in the integration of field data and DNA profiles of right whales, as well as in improving conservation and management of North Atlantic right whales by working with industry and government groups to develop, implement, and monitor conservation measures to reduce the impact of ship strikes and fishing on their recovery.
Current Projects: Field research on the North Atlantic right whales, stewardship with shipping and fishing stakeholders and government managers, primarily in Canada, to promote the recovery of North Atlantic right whales.
Elizabeth A. Burgess, Ph.D.
B.S. (Honours), The University of Queensland, Australia, 2001
M.S., Massey University, New Zealand, 2007
Ph.D., The University of Queensland, Australia, 2013
Research Interests: Dr. Burgess specializes in the development and application of noninvasive tools for hormone monitoring of marine mammals. She is interested in using physiological measures to better evaluate reproductive biology, pregnancy, seasonality and stress responses of threatened individuals and populations, and ultimately to detect the effects and consequences of increasing human impacts in the ocean.
Current Projects: Development of novel noninvasive methods of stress assessment in baleen whales; monitoring stress responses of Florida manatees using fecal hormone analysis.
Philip K. Hamilton, M.S.
B.A., State University of New York at Binghamton, 1986, Environmental Studies
M.S., University of Massachusetts Boston, 2002, Biology
Research Interests: Mr. Hamilton’s primary interests include photo-identification and population assessments, behavior – particularly—physical and acoustical association patterns, disease, and genetics. He designed DIGITS, a server-based database and interface system through which all aspects of the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalog are managed.
Amy R. Knowlton, M.M.A.
B.A., Boston University, 1982, Geography
M.M.A., University of Rhode Island, 1997, Master of Marine Affairs
Research Interests: Ms. Knowlton’s main interest is meshing science with policy to help develop effective protection measures for right whales. She has worked to this end on both the ship-strike issue and the fishing gear entanglement problem by assessing the level of impact these activities have on right whales and helping to develop policy changes to mitigate these impacts. She is also interested in photo-identification and population monitoring efforts. In addition, she has worked to develop education modules for maritime academies about right whales and ship strikes.
Current Projects: Assessment of entanglement and ship-strike interactions with the Right Whale Research Project, supervision of photo-identification efforts, education and outreach to mariners and the general public.
Daniel E. Pendleton, Ph.D.
B.S., Minnesota State University, 1999, Mathematics
M.S., Cornell University, 2003, Soil Science
Ph.D., Cornell University, 2010, Natural Resources
Research Interests: Dr. Pendleton is using modern quantitative techniques to address contemporary issues in marine resource management, particularly those pertaining to endangered species. He is incorporating satellite- and model-derived environmental data into statistical models to answer questions about the spatial and temporal distribution and habitat preferences of organisms such as the Western Arctic bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) and North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis).
Current Projects: Modeling occupancy for marine mammals in a wind energy development area—a framework for analyzing and interpreting aerial survey data collected by the New England Aquarium; Forecasting Changes in Habitat Use by Bowhead Whales in Response to Arctic Climate Change: Integration of Physical-Biological Models with Satellite, Biological Survey and Oceanographic Data.
Heather Pettis, M.A.
B.S., Bates College, 1997, Biology
M.A., Boston University, 2001, Biology
Research Interests: Ms. Pettis’ primary research interests are using visual health assessments to examine trends in right whale health at both the individual and population levels and to investigate the impact of anthropogenic injuries on right whale health and survival over time. She played an integral role in the development of the visual health assessment technique for right whales and has advised researchers in the development of assessments for other cetacean species. She serves as the executive administrator for the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium, a collaborative data sharing group committed to long-term research and management efforts to provide management, academic, and conservation groups with the best scientific advice and recommendations on right whale conservation. She is also interested in photo-identification and population monitoring.
Current Projects: Assessing visual health of North Atlantic right whales, monitoring impacts of injury on right whale health, executive administrator of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium.
Director of Ocean Health, Senior Scientist
Rosalind M. Rolland, D.V.M.
B.S., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1978, Natural Sciences
D.V.M., Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, 1984, Veterinary Medicine
Research Interests: Dr. Rolland has pioneered the development of noninvasive methods to study health, reproduction, and stress physiology in free-swimming large whales, including the use of scent-detection dogs for sampling whales. Her research program has developed novel hormone assays for a variety of matrices in whales including feces, baleen, and respiratory vapor (blow), and the use of visual health data in North Atlantic right whales to assess the individual whale and to model health trends at the population level. She has conducted numerous studies on factors affecting the health of whales, including marine biotoxins and disease. Dr. Rolland has more than 50 scientific publications and is a member of the Research Faculty in the School for the Environment at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her current research is focused on quantifying physiologic responses and health effects on large whales of human activities in the oceans.
Current Projects: Health, reproduction, and stress physiology in large whales using hormones measured in feces and respiratory vapor, modeling health trends in right whales, stress physiology and effects of underwater noise in whales, baleen hormones in bowhead whales as a longitudinal record of pregnancy and stress.
Associate Research Scientist
Randi D. Rotjan, Ph.D.
B.S., Cornell University, 1999, Biological Sciences
Ph.D., Tufts University, 2007, Biology
Research Interests: Dr. Rotjan is a coral reef ecologist, and her research addresses the interface between ecology, symbiosis, and behavior to ultimately determine how organisms interact with their ever-changing environments. She maintains an active global research program with current projects spanning from New England temperate corals to Caribbean reefs in Belize to the remote central Pacific Ocean in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), for which Dr. Rotjan co-chairs the Scientific Advisory Committee. She holds faculty appointments at Boston University and the University of Massachusetts Boston, is on the editorial board for three journals, and is a member of W2O and The Explorers Club. She has authored more than 30 peer-reviewed publications and provides updates on her research in the Phoenix Islands on the Phoenix Islands Expedition blog and on other active research projects on the Aquarium Explorers blog.
Current Projects: The ecology and symbiosis of tropical and temperate corals, climate change impacts in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, and hermit crab shell choice behavior.
Director of Ocean Sustainability Science
Michael Tlusty, Ph.D.
B.S., University of Illinois, 1987, Animal Science
Ph.D., Syracuse University, 1994, Biology
Research Interests: Dr. Tlusty works to increase the sustainability of the blue planet by linking science, technology, and innovation to transform the world’s aquaculture systems. He does this by using aquatic animal science to provide solutions to mitigate global change and human-induced impacts in the areas of food production, aquariums, and the wildlife trade.
Current Projects: The environmental etiology of shell disease in American lobsters; stopping the illegal wildlife trade by finding that hidden in plain sight; adaptive learning modules to help small-holder aquaculturists improve on farm practices; and how global change affects development of larval fish and crustaceans.
Senior Scientist, and Director, Consortium for Wildlife Bycatch Reduction
Timothy B. Werner, M.S.
M.S., Stanford University, 2001, Business Management (2001 Sloan Fellow)
M.S., University of Maryland, 1996, Marine Zoology
Research Interests: Mr. Werner’s primary interests are in the science and management of living marine resources. His biological research focuses on characterizing spatial patterns of marine biodiversity, with an emphasis on the phylogeography of tropical holothurians (sea cucumbers). His applied interests are in marine conservation, including marine protected areas and working collaboratively with engineers, fishermen, and wildlife biologists to identify fishing methods that lead to reduced bycatch of threatened animals.
Current Projects: Consortium for Wildlife Bycatch Reduction; Marine Science, Systematics and phylogeography of the Holothuria subgenus Halodeima; Conservation Engineering, Evaluation of alternative gillnets and “whale-friendly” fishing gear.
Associate Scientist/GIS Specialist
Brooke Wikgren, M. En.
B.S., University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, 2008, Environmental Policy and Planning
M. En., Miami University, 2010, Environmental Sciences
Geographic Information Sciences Certificate, Miami University, 2010
Research Interests: Ms. Wikgren’s research interests focus on using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to understand the various impacts of human activities on the marine environment and its inhabitants, with a particular focus on the North Atlantic right whale; analyze ocean use conflicts and ecosystem service tradeoffs informing coastal and marine spatial planning; model and map marine species distributions and habitats; track the movements of satellite-tagged and released animals; facilitate geospatial components of the Phoenix Islands Marine Protected Area research; and support conservation initiatives. In addition to her research, Ms. Wikgren teaches Marine GIS for Boston University’s Marine Program as well as the University of Massachusetts Boston, School for the Environment.
Current Projects: Right Whales, Economic Analysis of Trade-Offs and Marine Spatial Planning, Phoenix Islands Marine Protected Area, and Marine Animal Rescue’s Satellite Tagging Project.