Nichole serves as the deputy chief scientist and lead global scientist for The Nature Conservancy (TNC). She was previously a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado. Nichole is an ecologist and author of more than 70 peer-reviewed papers with more than two decades of experience in supporting sustainable land management and restoration of a broad variety of ecosystems throughout the world. She works in partnership with diverse governmental entities on land degradation and restoration issues such as the ecological risks of fire mitigation treatments, historical drivers and biogeochemical responses to woody plant encroachment, forest decline and regeneration, and restoration of degraded dryland ecosystems.
Nichole is also engaged in international science-policy activities, having served as a coordinating lead author on the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) global land degradation and restoration assessment. She is the current co-chair of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Science Policy Interface group that works to translate scientific findings and assessments into policy-relevant recommendations. Nichole previously served as the research director of the Canyonlands Research Center located at TNC’s historical Dugout Ranch in southeast Utah. More recently she served as the science director for TNC’s Utah chapter and directed a summer program for Indigenous students from the Four Corners region of the Southwest US. Barger received her master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley and holds a PhD from Colorado State University.