Heather Heckathorn


Heather is the Water Quality Specialist for the USGS NJ Water Science Center. Heather's career with the U.S. Geological Survey New Jersey Water Science Center began in 2000 after studying at the University of Pittsburgh and Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.  


Her career with the USGS has focused on the water quality of groundwater and surface water. In support of New Jersey’s extensive water-quality networks, Heather has worked to ensure these networks of long-term discrete data and long-term continuous water-quality monitors are maintained with a high standard of efficiency, quality, and impartiality producing unbiased, high-quality data for water-quality investigations.  


Recent investigations include determining variations of concentrations of water-quality constituents throughout New Jersey, Sediment Oxygen Demand, antibiotic resistance, assessments of nutrient loads, and monitoring harmful algal blooms in lakes and reservoirs. She helps guide the focus of several hydrographers and advises on best practices for superior data collection, review, and publication of water-quality data.  


Among a number of seats held on local, regional, and national committees, Heather is a member of the USGS Water Mission Area (WMA) Scientific and Technical Employee Development (STED) Committee, USGS WMA Urban Landscapes Capability Team, USGS WMA Harmful Algal Blooms Capability Team, USGS WMA PFAS Capability Team, NJ Water Monitoring Council co-chair, and a member of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Council for Delaware River Basin Commission. Her current interests include monitoring and assessing contaminants of emerging concern including, but not limited, to microplastics, PFAS, and harmful algal blooms and using novel approaches to monitor a variety of water-quality characteristics.