Founding Member, Ocean Collectiv

linkedin| twitter


  • — Environmental nonprofit leadership and administration
  • — Aquariums, zoos, and science centers
  • — Marine programming and design

Nigella Hillgarth is a biologist and environmental nonprofit leader and administrator. 

Recently, as  President & Chief Executive Officer of the New England Aquarium, 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.

Previously Nigella Hillgarth was Executive Director of the Birch Aquarium at UC San Diego—The outreach arm of Scripps Institution 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.

Hillgarth 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.  She has conducted research on behavioral ecology and evolution in birds in many parts of the world including  the United States, Britain, India, Thailand, the Arctic and South America.