Our People

Jennifer McGowan

Spatial Planning Technical Coordinator

Arlington, Virginia, United States

Jennifer McGowan Jennifer McGowan, Spatial Planning Technical Coordinator © Luke McNee


spatial planning, prioritization, decision science


Matthew L. Miller


Jennifer is the Spatial Planning Technical Coordinator for TNC’s Global Science team and is responsible for supporting spatial action mapping under the Conservancy’s Shared Conservation Agenda. Jennifer’s work also focuses on the development and uptake of tailored decision-support tools for conservation prioritization and planning.

Jennifer has spent the last five years helping countries and NGOs around the world integrate decision-support tools into their biodiversity and conservation strategies.  She advised the spatial planning process which delivered the Coral Triangle’s largest multi-use marine park, Tun Mustapha Park in Malaysian Borneo, and has worked on a diverse range of prioritization problems from the highly contested waters of the Adriatic Sea to the remote seascapes of Papua New Guinea.

She has also invested a significant amount of time into teaching spatial planning theory and advancing the technical capacity of conservation practitioners. She has trained over 600 scientists and policy-makers across 15 countries in the world’s leading spatial planning decision-support tool, Marxan.  

Jennifer received her PhD in spatial conservation prioritization and decision science from the University of Queensland, Australia. She also holds an MA from San Francisco State University in Environmental Planning and Resource Management.

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What Are We Actually Protecting In The Ocean?

Jennifer's research measures how well species are represented in marine protected areas.

A Big Opportunity to Conserve Australia’s Marine Natural Heritage

Jennifer and TNC Chief Scientist Hugh Possingham discuss how current efforts to re-zone Australia's EEZ fall short for conservation. 

Telemetry Technology for Better Conservation

Jennifer explores how we can integrate animal-borne technology with conservation management.

Getting Systematic with IBAs

Jennifer's research helps conservationists make the most of the marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas.


Visit Jennifer's Google Scholar Profile for a full list of publications.


McGowan J, Bode M, Davis K, Krueck N, Beger M, Yates K & HP Possingham. 2018. Ocean zoning within a sparing vs. sharing framework. Theoretical Ecology.

Jantke K, Kuempel CD, McGowan J, Chauvenet ALM, Possingham HP. 2018. Metrics for evaluating representation target achievement in protected area networks. Divers Distrib. 00:1–6.

Gissi E, McGowan J, Venier C, Di Carlo D, Musco F, Menegon S, Mackelworth P, Agardy T & HP Possingham. 2018. Addressing transboundary conservation challenges with marine spatial prioritization. Conservation Biology.

Giakoumi S, McGowan J, Mills M, et al. 2018. Revisiting “Success” and “Failure” of marine protected areas: A conservation scientist perspective. Frontiers in Marine Science.

Mason C, Alderman R, McGowan J et al. 2018. Telemetry reveals existing marine protected areas are worse than random for protecting the foraging habitat of threatened shy albatross (Thalassarche cauta). Diversity and Distributions.

Iacona G et al. 2018. Standardized reporting on the costs of management interventions for biodiversity conservation. Conservation Biology. 32: 979-988.


McGowan J, Smith R, di Marco M, Clarke R & HP Possingham. 2017. An evaluation of marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas in the context of spatial prioritization. Conservation Letters here

Jumin R, Binson A, McGowan J, Magupin S, Beger M, Brown C, Possingham H, & Klein C. 2017.  From Marxan to Management: Ocean Zoning with stakeholders for the proposed Tun Mustapha Park in Sabah, Malaysia. Oryx.

Chauvenet A, Kuempel C, McGowan J, Beger M & HP Possingham. 2017. Methods for calculating Protection Equality for conservation planning. PLoS ONE.


McGowan J, Beger M, Lewison R, Harcourt R, Campbell H, Priest M, Dwyer R, Lin H, Lentini P, Dudgeon C, McMahon C & HP Possingham. 2016. Linking research using animal-borne telemetry with the needs of conservation management. Journal of Applied Ecology.

Mazor T, Beger M, McGowan J, Possingham HP, & Kark, S. 2016. The value of migration information for conservation prioritization of sea turtles in the Mediterranean. Global Ecology and Biogeography. doi: 10.1111/geb.12434

McGowan J, Anthony K and Possingham HP. 2016. Don’t let climate crush coral effort. Nature 536, 396 doi:10.1038/536396a 


Beger M, McGowan J, Treml E, Green A, White AT, Wolff NH, Klein C, Mumby P, & Possingham HP. 2015. Integrating regional conservation priorities for multiple objectives into national policy. Nature Communications. 10.1038/ncomms9208 

Klein CJ, Brown CJ, Halpern BS, Segan D, McGowan J, Beger M, & Watson J. 2015. Shortfalls in the global protected area network at representing marine biodiversity. Scientific Reports. 5:17539 doi:10.1038/srep17539

Brown C, Bode M, Venter O, Barnes MD, McGowan J, Runge C, Watson JEM, & Possingham HP. 2015. Effective conservation requires clear objectives and prioritising actions, not places or species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.


McGowan J, Hines E, Elliott M et al. 2013. Using Seabird Habitat Modeling to Inform Marine Spatial Planning in Central California’s National Marine Sanctuaries. PLoS ONE 8(8): e71406. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071406