Heather Upin

College of Science


Geosciences graduate student Heather Upin loves sharing stories “told by rocks.” Her study of the geomicrobiology of Peruvian hydrothermal systems, the focus of her master’s thesis, led her to the Andes Mountains of Peru, where Heather sampled 14 hot springs along a transect from Cusco to Lake Titicaca.

A self-taught microbiologist, Heather honed her skills while processing microbe samples in a USU committee member’s lab. She applied these skills to her current research, which seeks to link microbial community differences from her Peruvian samples to the underlying tectonic setting. Heather’s passion for research began during her undergraduate years at Smith College, from which she earned a bachelor’s degree in geosciences and wrote a senior thesis that garnered top departmental honors.

Prior to starting her studies at USU, Heather lived in the backcountry of Idaho, where she helped rebuild trails and surveyed streams for salmon spawning habitat. Heather enjoys climbing trips and guiding students in the backcountry. She’s passionate about Leave No Trace and conservation, and hopes to find a career that balances her love of the outdoors with her desire to understand the Earth through research.