Jessica Henkel

Director of Research Operations/Director of RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana

As Director of Research Operations at The Water Institute and director of RESTORE Act Center of Excellence for Louisiana, Dr. Jessica Renee Henkel brings 15 years of research, collaborative science and planning to her role coordinating technical teams at The Water Institute.

Henkel received her bachelor’s degree in English from Stony Brook University, her master’s degree in conservation biology from the University of New Orleans and then her Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Tulane University. Her research focused on the migration ecology of shorebirds along the northern Gulf of Mexico and the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. As part of a fellowship through the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine she started work as a science policy fellow with the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council (RESTORE Council) where she eventually was named the science advisor and coordinator. The RESTORE Council is an independent federal agency established by Congress through the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revised Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act), and is comprised of the governors of the five Gulf states and six federal agencies.

Henkel specializes in structured decision-making and decision analysis and has been certified through the USFWS National Conservation Training Center (NCTC). During her time with the RESTORE Council she used this training to connect and build consensus across federal and state agency representatives on the RESTORE Council.

Henkel has developed guidance on how restoration activities should be monitored and adaptively managed, designed and developed databases to support the RESTORE Council in tracking and assessing its work, and advised on how that information could be synthesized and used to inform science-based restoration planning at watershed and regional scales.