Start receiving our award-winning magazine today!


Meet Our Water Leaders

Jonathan Higgins, Ph.D.

Jonathan Higgins, Ph.D.

Director of Conservation,
Great Rivers Partnership

“I grew up fishing the waters of the Upper Midwest, and their beauty and bounty caught me. Ideas and opportunities abound to ensure that rivers and lakes sustain their magnificence and the wealth of services they provide to people. We have to work together to make that happen.”

Jonathan Higgins, Ph.D., has been involved in freshwater science and conservation for over 30 years. He currently acts as the Director of Conservation for The Nature Conservancy's Great Rivers Partnership, leading a conservation agenda across the program's eight focal river basins. Jonathan has specific expertise in developing and testing new conservation methods and tools; setting priorities for where and how to work; and monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of efforts at the individual site, basin and global levels.

He previously provided significant support to the Laurentian Great Lakes Basin and several large river basin projects, including China’s Yangtze, Colombia’s Magdalena, the United States’ Mississippi, and to Water Fund projects across North, Central and South America, and Africa; in addition to national freshwater conservation and management efforts across the U.S.

Jonathan is active in panels, research partnerships and educational opportunities that support research, development and implementation of freshwater conservation and management strategies, measures and monitoring approaches.

Before joining the Conservancy in 1995, he was the senior scientist and project manager for water quality and biological monitoring of Laurentian Great Lakes. There, he led a team of biologists and chemists in field surveys onboard The Lake Guardian research vessel, and was involved in developing new sampling and analysis methods. 

Jonathan has provided technical assistance to over 70 regional conservation assessments across North, Central and South America, the Pacific islands and Asia. He has published numerous articles on ecosystem classification, conservation planning and water quality monitoring techniques and applications. Jonathan holds a BA in biology from Grinnell College in Iowa, a MS in wetland plant ecology and PhD in population ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Illinois-Chicago. He is an avid fly fisherman, gardener, cook and jazz pianist, and authors the provocative Straight, No Chaser column in the Conservancy’s Science Chronicles.


Jonathan Higgins, Ph.D.

Director of Conservation,
Great Rivers Partnership

We’re Accountable

The Nature Conservancy makes careful use of your support.

More Ratings

x animal

Sign up for Nature eNews!

Sign Up for Nature e-News

Learn about the places you love. Find out
how you can help.

Thank you for joining our online community!

We’ll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates and exciting stories.

Please leave this field empty

I'm already on the list!

Read our privacy policy.