US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Katherine A. Heckman

Research Biologist
Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, L-397
7000 East Ave
United States

Phone: 925-422-9556
Fax: 925-423-7884
Contact Katherine A. Heckman

Current Research

  • I currently help administer the Radiocarbon Collaborative, a collaboration-based research initiative sponsored by the Northern Research Station. The Radiocarbon Collaborative expands Forest Service researcher access to radiocarbon analysis, with the goal of assisting researchers in creating statistically robust radiocarbon datasets which address climate change and terrestrial carbon cycling science. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in applying radiocarbon analysis to your research.
  • Additionally, I participate in soil organic matter research with a focus on mechanisms of organic matter stabilization and mineralogy.

Research Interests

The response of the soil organic matter pool to climate change is currently the largest uncertainty in global C cycle models. My research is focused on elucidating the molecular-to-field scale mechanisms of organic C stabilization in soils, with the goal of improving our ability to predict soil C vulnerability to climate change and discovering methods of managing our soils to preserve soil C stocks.

Past Research

Heckman K, Welty-Bernard A, Vazquez-Ortega A, Schwartz E, Chorover J, Rasmussen C (2013) The influence of goethite and gibbsite on soluble nutrient dynamics and microbial community composition. Biogeochemistry, 112(1): 179-195.

Heckman K, Vazquez-Ortega A, Gao X, Chorover J, Rasmussen C (2011) Changes in water extractable organic matter during incubation of forest floor material in the presence of quartz, goethite and gibbsite surfaces. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 75: 4295–4309.

Heckman K, Rasmussen C (2011) Lithologic controls on regolith weathering and mass flux in forested ecosystems of the southwestern USA. Geoderma, 164: 99-111.

Heckman K, Welty-Bernard A, Rasmussen C, Schwartz E (2009) Geologic controls of soil carbon cycling and microbial dynamics in temperate conifer forests. Chemical Geology 267: 12-23.

Heckman K, Anderson WB, Wait DA (2006) Distribution and activity of hypolithic soil crusts in a hyperarid desert (Baja California, Mexico). Biology and Fertility of Soils 43: 263-266.

Why This Research is Important

Radiocarbon dating is a unique and powerful tool for the analysis of ecosystem processes. Incorporation of radiocarbon analyses into a broader range of controlled experiments and field studies stands to vastly improve both our understanding of C cycling processes in ecosystems and the response of those ecosystems to changes in climate conditions.


  • University of Arizona, Water & Environmental Science, Ph.D. Soil, Water & Environmental Science 2010
  • Drury University, B.S. Biology & Environmental Science 2004

Professional Organizations

  • Soil Science Society of America
  • Association for Women in Soil Science
  • Geological Society of America
  • American Geophysical Union


Last updated on : 05/08/2015