Heather Wright, Ph.D.


I work for the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP), a cooperative partnership between the USGS and USAID's Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance.  My job involves many functions, including conducting international training courses, participating in volcanic crisis response efforts, and performing 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 input into GIS, field stratigraphic logging, x-ray tomography (synchrotron-based), permeability, porosity, and electrical conductivity measurement of saturated rock cores, scanning electron microscope (SEM) and optical microscope imagery, electron microprobe and ion microprobe chemical analyses, and FTIR spectroscopic analyses.  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.


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

1999: B.A. (Geology) Whitman College


Academic awards and honors:

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 independent research careers, 2019

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, 2013

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

Outstanding Student Paper Award, Fall AGU meeting, 2003 (Volcanology, Geochemistry, Petrology section)

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


Student supervision:

S. Kunrat, Masters. 2017.  Title, "Soputan Volcano, Indonesia: Petrological Systematics of Volatiles and Magmas and Their Bearing on Explosive Eruptions of a Basalt Volcano"

A. Cabrera, Ph.D. 2013. Title, "The architecture, emplacement and rheological behaviour of rhyolite lavas from the Aeolian Islands"

C. Folkes, Ph.D. 2010. Title, "The geochemistry, stratigraphy, and volcanology of the Cerro Galan volcanic system, NW Argentina"

J. Miles, Honours. 2009. Title, "Conduit Dynamics in Fluctuating Phreatomagmatic and Magmatic Eruptive Phases at Tower Hill Volcanic Complex, South Eastern Australia"

H. Renou, Honours. 2009. Title, "Volatiles in magma: Evidence preserved in melt inclusions and the analysis of their host phenocrysts from the Cerro Galan stratigraphy, NW Argentina"


Teaching experience:

Lecturer: Center for Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV) International Training 2013 - present, Volcanology and Igneous Petrology (ESC3421) 2009, Introductory Geology (ESC1011) 2007-8, Field geology (ESC2122) 2007-8, Field geology of New Zealand 2008, "Volcanic Processes, Products, Successions and Resources" shortcourse for industry professionals 2007-8, Geologic Hazards (Geo353) 2005, and Introduction to Geology for Education Majors 2005 and 2006

Teaching Assistant: Introductory Geology, Essentials of Mineralogy, Introduction to Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology, Aqueous Geochemistry, Field Geology

(Google Scholar webpage)