Howard's PhD at the University of Warwick investigated the application of dynamical systems theory to ecological systems. He then focused on the effects of spatial heterogeneity on population dynamics at Imperial College, and worked on host-parasitoid interactions, ant-plant interactions, and the dynamics of zooxanthellae populations as well as developing theoretical frameworks for understanding spatial population dynamics. Howard was awarded a NERC Advanced Fellowship in 1998, but in 2000 decided to have a career change and worked on modelling and trading financial systems. He set up his own company in 2003, Circe Trading, before returning to science in 2008, when he joined the University of Queensland as a postdoctoral fellow.
His current research focuses on optimum monitoring, decision analysis and mathematical modelling within conservation biology. He develops data driven models; for example relating to resource allocation in orangutan conservation, or to quantify trends within Australia