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Media Contacts

Jeff Opperman, Ph.D.

Lead Scientist, Great Rivers Partnership

Jeff Opperman, Ph.D., lead scientist for The Nature Conservancy’s Great Rivers Partnership, has been working to protect rivers and lakes for more than 15 years. He has provided strategic and scientific guidance to freshwater conservation projects across the United States as well as in China, Africa and Latin America. Through strategy development, scientific research, and support to field projects, Jeff focuses on protecting and restoring river-floodplain ecosystems and improving the environmental sustainability of hydropower.

Read Jeff Opperman, Ph.D.'s Full Biography

Jeff in the News

Studies by Jeff

BBC World Service: Science in Action

Jeff talks to the BBC about his paper in Science urging changes in the way the world manages floodplains.

Blogs by Jeff

Shoot Out the Lights: Science, Hydropower & Reality on the Mekong

The standard story: big dams disrupt the livelihoods of rural villages. But many communities welcome development; Jeff asks, can conservation minimize hydropower impacts?


Select Publications:

Opperman, J. J., J. Hartmann, and D. Harrison. 2015. Hydropower and the energy-water-climate nexus. in J. Pittock, editor. Climate, energy and water: managing a complex trinity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Opperman, J. J., G. E. Galloway, and S. Duvail. 2013. The multiple benefits of river-floodplain connectivity for people and biodiversity. Pages 144-160 in S. Levin, editor. Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, second edition, Volume 7. Academic Press, Waltham, MA.

Opperman, J. J., R. Luster, B. A. McKenney, M. Roberts, and A. W. Meadows. 2010. Ecologically functional floodplains: connectivity, flow regime, and scale. Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 46: 211-226.
Esselman, P. and J. J. Opperman. 2010. Overcoming information limitations for developing an environmental flow prescription for a Central American River. Ecology and Society 15 (1) article 6;

Opperman JJ, Galloway GE, Fargione J, Mount JF, Richter BD, Secchi S. 2009. Sustainable floodplains through large-scale reconnection to rivers. Science 326: 1487-1488.
Opperman, J. J. 2009. In the beginning: a river on fire; blaze on the Cuyahoga marked start of an era that needs to be celebrated.  Op-ed piece in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, June 21, 2009.
Opperman, J., J. Mount, and P. Moyle. 2004. The rivers tell us how to reduce the flood peril. Op-ed piece in the Sacramento Bee, April 25, 2004.

Jeff Opperman, lead scientist, has been working to protect rivers and lakes for more than 15 years.  He has provided strategic and scientific guidance to freshwater conservation projects across the United States as well as in China, Africa and Latin America

For the Nature Conservancy, Jeff leads a team that focuses on developing strategies for conserving rivers and improving the environmental sustainability of hydropower.

Jeff earned his B.S. in Biology from Duke University and a Ph.D. in Ecosystem Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He then studied floodplain ecology during a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, Davis. His scientific and policy research has been published in journals such as Science, BioScience and Ecological Applications. Jeff strives to communicate the challenges and opportunities of protecting fresh water through op-eds, articles and blog posts in such places as The New York Times, Outside, Grist, and The Guardian


Geraldine Henrich-Koenis
Director of Media Relations
Phone: 703-841-3939

Connect with Jeff

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Read Jeff's latest posts on Grist

Areas of Expertise
  • Freshwater ecology
  • River restoration
  • Floodplain ecology and flood-risk management
  • Reducing environmental impacts of hydropower
“Rivers connect people to nature in the most fundamental ways: economically, culturally, and spiritually. But these connections are increasingly frayed or threatened by the demands we place on our rivers. Restoring and protecting these connections while meeting growing needs for water and energy is one of the great challenges of our time.”

— Jeff Opperman, senior freshwater scientist, The Nature Conservancy

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