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Heather M. Wright

I work for the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP), a cooperative partnership between the USGS and USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. In my current role, I conduct international training courses, participate in volcanic crisis response efforts, and perform fundamental scientific research on volcanic processes. 

My research integrates fieldwork with quantitative textural and chemical characterization of volcanic clasts, in order to produce conceptual models of the relevant geologic processes and better understand processes of shallow magma storage, ascent, and eruption. I use a variety of observation strategies and tools, including geologic mapping and stratigraphy; optical, electron and x-ray microscopy; and tools to measure pore fraction and geometry.  I increasingly also work on methods of eruption forecasting and crisis communication for volcanic risk reduction.  

I enjoy the multidisciplinary nature of my job.  And, I am fortunate to work with an amazing group of colleagues at the USGS and at our partner agencies around the world.

Professional Experience

  • 2013-present: Volcano Disaster Assistance Program, Cascades Volcano Observatory, USGS

  • 2012-2013: California Volcano Observatory, USGS

  • 2010-2012: Mendenhall postdoctoral appointment, USGS Menlo Park, CA. Project title "Using crystal and glass compositions from eruptive products of Mt. Mazama (Crater Lake) volcano to examine magma chamber evolution processes; modelling this evolution through time using an integrated geochemical and thermodynamic approach."

  • 2006-2009: Research fellow, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. Project title "Physical volcanology and petrology of the Cerro Galan caldera complex, northern Argentina"

  • 2006: Ph.D. (Geological Sciences) University of Oregon. Thesis title: Physical and chemical signatures of degassing in volcanic systems

  • 1999-2001: Earth Science Intern, ECO, US Geological Survey

  • 1999: Student Intern, USRA, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Education and Certifications

  • PhD, Geological Sciences, University of Oregon

  • BA, Geology Minors in Spanish and Astronomy, Whitman College

Affiliations and Memberships*

  • American Geophysical Union

  • Geological Society of America

  • Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science

  • International Association of Volcanology and Geochemistry of the Earth's Interior

Honors and Awards

  • Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their i

  • George P. L. Walker award of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior, given every two years to an early career scientist in the fields encompassed by IAVCEI,

  • University of Oregon Doctoral Research Fellowship, awarded to the most outstanding doctoral applicant in any UO PhD program by a faculty selection committee, 2005

  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship Honorable Mention, 2003

  • University of Oregon Staples Fellowship, 2002

  • Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi National Honorary Science Fraternities, 1999

  • Graduated Magna Cum Laude with Honors in Major, 1999

  • Leeds Prize for Excellence in Geology, 1999

Science and Products

*Disclaimer: Listing outside positions with professional scientific organizations on this Staff Profile are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of those professional scientific organizations or their activities by the USGS, Department of the Interior, or U.S. Government