Conrad Gowell grew up exploring the diverse watersheds of Oregon. He quickly developed a fascination surrounding the aquatic world and has continually sought to broaden his perspective. Following his curiosity of lotic environs while in high school, Gowell was drawn to the study of fish. During that time he collaborated with biologists from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Siuslaw and Willamette National Forests.
In order to realize his conservation goals, and become an effective river steward, Conrad earned a B.S. in Natural Science with an emphasis in Biology from the University of Puget Sound in 2012. His undergraduate education focused his interests on ecology, evolution, conservation, and restoration, allowing him to relate a broad biological background to a diverse array of ecosystems. He gained field experience working in tropical marine environments as well as temperate costal rain forests and sub-arctic postglacial lakes. He has worked primarily on salmonids including sockeye, coho, pink and chinook salmon in addition to arctic char, dolly varden, bull trout, and pygmy whitefish. Conrad has also worked with bonefish, permit, tarpon, queen conch, spiny lobster, and zebrafish.
An avid interest in science led Gowell to conduct independent research on marine protected areas, how geomorphology regulates ecosystem functioning, the evolution and behavior of salmonids, and the effectiveness of large woody debris restoration efforts. Active learning in the field combined with a broad liberal arts education has allowed him to bridge the gap between theoretical and applied sciences. Gowell has assisted graduate studies on fishes pertaining to evolutionary patterns of divergence, chemosensory response, life history characterization, juvenile rearing patterns, as well as the simultaneous effects climate change and geomorphic evolution have on the biology of watersheds.
Conrad is an active participant with the Salmon River Drift Creek Watershed Council, the SOLVE adopt a river program,the Native Fish Society, the Drift Creek Nature Center, and the Whitewater Creek Conservation Association. In addition, Conrad volunteers with after school science education programs and works with community members to identify holistic solutions for the conservation of watersheds.
Currently completed with his 6th field season with the University of Washington’s Alaska Salmon Program, Conrad facilitates investigations of salmonids and collects and maintains long term hydrological and limnological data sets. In Chignik Gowell samples juvenile fish assemblages, measures stream discharge, calculates primary and secondary production, assesses trophic relationships through diet and isotopic analysis, and collects a multitude of other data in the remote lakes, rivers, and estuary of the 1536 km2 watershed. Through this program, Conrad learned how to care for a research facility, how vast breadths of data influence fisheries biology and the significant role complex factors such as geography, culture, and economics play in conducting research.
When not working in the natural sciences, Conrad spends the majority of his time outdoors. Because of his fascination with ecosystems the water that flows through them, you are more likely to find him backpacking and sleeping outdoors (no matter the weather) than at “home.” His interest in fly fishing has led him to become an accomplished fly tyer and nature photographer. Conrad is capable of communicating through American Sign Language and does so with the deaf, and while underwater. Conrad explores the underwater world through snorkeling and diving for which he holds an advanced PADI certification.
Conrad brings enthusiasm and sincere dedication to the study of native fishes and their habitat. In the future, Conrad aims to earn a graduate degree in aquatic science and pursue a career in the conservation of fish native to the pacific northwest.