Jo Ellen Hinck


Jo Ellen's research interests revolve around evaluating the biological effects of chemical contaminants in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Jo Ellen's early research included the first monitoring program to assess chemical exposures and other environmental stressors in freshwater fish species and fish health in large river systems that represent a broad range of aquatic ecosystems.  Results from this research resulted in the largest compilation and synthesis of contaminant and biomarker data for freshwater fish in the United States.  In 2009, Jo Ellen's research focus shifted to evaluating the environmental health risks of uranium mining in the Grand Canyon watershed.

Since 2014, Jo Ellen has served as the USGS coordinator for the DOI Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) Program, while maintaining her uranium mining research.  Her primary responsibilities are to assist natural resource managers from federal, state, and tribal agencies in scientific problem formulation and definition related to contamination from mining sites, industrial areas, and oil spills.  Jo Ellen helps to design experiments to address these natural resource issues, identify and recruit expertise from USGS scientists to conduct research studies, and interpret the results for the natural resource managers.  The nature of these problems applies to geographical areas ranging from individual parks or wildlife refuges to national scale and requires integration of science, economics, and legal aspects.  Every NRDAR case is unique in terms of geographic setting, type of release, and natural resource injured; therefore, the science required is also unique.

In 2018, Jo Ellen also began serving a detail with the Natural Hazards Mission Area as the science coordinator of the Supplemental Oversight Team (SOT). The SOT oversees USGS activities related to supplemental appropriations for disaster recovery. Jo Ellen's  primary responsibilities are to monitor progress and ensure accountability of supplemental activities; provide scientific knowledge, information, and tools to decision makers in a timely and efficient manner; and increase USGS capability and capacity to respond to future disaster events.


M.S. Zoology, Department of Zoology, Miami University, 2001
B.S. Biology, Department of Biology and Department of Earth Sciences, University of Central Missouri, 1999

Professional Experience

  • 2018-present Hurricane and Wildfire Supplemental Science Coordinator, U.S. Geological Survey, Natural Hazards Mission Area
  • 2014-present USGS NRDAR Coordinator, U.S. Geological Survey Columbia Environmental Research Center, Columbia, MO
  • 2002-2014 Biologist, U.S. Geological Survey Columbia Environmental Research Center, Columbia, MO
  • 2001-2002 Ecological Risk Assessor, Tetra Tech NUS, Pittsburgh, PA
  • 1999-2001 Research and Teaching Assistant, Miami University, Department of Zoology, Oxford, OH
  • 1998-1999 Research Assistant, University of Central Missouri, Department of Biology and Department of Earth Sciences, Warrensburg, MO