Bridget C. Coughlin, Ph.D.

President and Chief Executive Officer

Bridget C. Coughlin, Ph.D., provides strategic oversight and direction to all activities and initiatives at Shedd Aquarium. Her experience and expertise are directed at long-term planning that advances the aquarium’s mission to spark compassion, curiosity and conservation for the aquatic animal world, as well as continues its long tradition of excellence.

Dr. Coughlin has been at the forefront of developing innovative experiences that educate, entertain and enhance the guest experience, and her many accomplishments have established her as one of the brightest leaders in the field. Her commitment to learning extends well beyond the walls of Shedd. She is an active member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Museums in the Park consortium and is a founding member of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership. Additionally, she serves on the boards of After School Matters, mindSpark Learning (Denver) and the Alaska SeaLife Center. 

In 2017, Dr. Coughlin was a member of the U.S. delegation to the Our Ocean Conference in Malta. Along with leaders from Monterey Bay Aquarium and the National Aquarium, she represented 19 U.S. aquariums in the commitment to reduce and ultimately eliminate the use of single-use plastics across all business operations. 

Before joining Shedd, Dr. Coughlin served as vice president of strategic partnerships and programs and adjunct curator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS). She was responsible for education, membership, fundraising and strategic partnership activities for the 115-year-old institution. Prior to DMNS, she spent five years with the National Academy of Sciences, where she served as managing editor of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She has also led research teams funded by the National Institutes of Health, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory.

Dr. Coughlin is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, the Chicago Network (Arts and Letters Subcommittee), the Chicago Club and the Economic Club of Chicago.

Dr. Coughlin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Knox College, a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Iowa and an executive MBA certificate from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She enjoys outdoor activities, cooking and spending time with her husband and three sons. Follow her on Twitter @bccoughlin.


Bridget C. Coughlin, Ph.D.President & CEO