Megan Owen, Ph.D.

Associate Director

Dr. Megan Owen serves San Diego Zoo Global as Associate Director of Recovery Ecology. In this role, she oversees the division’s large carnivore research programs, including giant panda, polar bear and Andean bear programs, establishing key links with other divisions and departments across San Diego Zoo Global, government agencies, and partner NGOs working to conserve large carnivores (primarily bears) around the world. Megan’s work spans across a range of conservation applications, from conservation breeding, to developing post-release monitoring strategies, to mitigating the impacts of industrial activities in critical wildlife habitats. Megan also leads our polar bear conservation research program, focusing on building strong links between field-based and zoo-based conservation research efforts.

Megan’s overarching interest is in applying research findings to conservation management as well as in using scientific methods to illuminate conservation challenges. In practice Megan’s research is largely focused on the application of behavioral and sensory ecology to conservation strategies, both in the field and in managed settings. Megan also strives to integrate research findings across scales towards developing a better understanding of how animals are being impacted by rapid changes in our environment.

Megan earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from City College of New York, and her doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from University of California, Los Angeles. Megan serves as a member of the IUCN’s Captive Bear Expert Team, research advisor to the AZA-Bear TAG, behavior advisor to the Giant Panda SSP, and research advisor to Polar Bears International. She has authored or co-authored peer-reviewed scientific publications and regularly publishes blogs. Megan strives to connect the public with conservation research programs, and frequently interacts with school groups and other non-scientific audiences. She is passionate about connecting children of all ages with nature and the outdoors, and integrates this perspective into her outreach efforts.

SCIENCE AT WORK