Dr. Nicole Heshka

Research Scientist

Hydrocarbon Conversion

Natural Resources Canada

Current research and/or projects


In 2007, after completing my Honors degree in Chemistry, I entered directly into the Ph.D. program at the University of Alberta. I had completed a number of student positions throughout my undergraduate degree and knew that I wanted a career in scientific research. I completed a doctorate in analytical chemistry in 2012, focussing on the separation and characterization of heavy oil samples. This background provided the perfect transition into an NSERC Visiting Fellowship at CanmetENERGY in Devon, where I was fortunate enough to be recently hired as a full-time analytical chemistry research scientist. I enjoy the creative challenge that research presents, and believe strongly in the importance of laboratory and workplace safety.  


Research and/or project statements

Current Research Projects:

  • Analytical method development applied to a wide range of bitumen-derived sample streams in support of partial upgrading technology initiatives
  • Use of multidimensional gas chromatography for targeted analysis of gases and liquids in crude oil
  • Creation of high performance liquid chromatography methods for quantitative analysis of target compounds in partially upgraded and thermally cracked oils
  • Exploration of unique sample introduction methods (such as bench-scale pyrolysis) for advanced chromatographic characterization of challenging samples

Professional activities / interests

  • Workplace safety, member of the Health and Safety Working Group
  • Serve as an expert reviewer of manuscripts for publication in scientific journals
  • Scientific writing, and the communication of science to expert and non-expert audiences

Education and awards


Ph.D in Analytical Chemistry, University of Alberta, 2012. 

BSc in Chemistry with First Class Honors, University of Alberta, 2007.   


Governor General’s Gold Academic Medal, University of Alberta, 2012.

Faculty of Science Dissertation Award, University of Alberta, 2012.

Profiling Alberta’s Graduate Students Award, 2012.

Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship (Doctoral), 2011.

President’s Doctoral Prize of Distinction, University of Alberta (2010, 2009, 2008).

NSERC PGS-D3 Graduate Scholarship, 2008.

Alberta Ingenuity Graduate Student Scholarship, 2008.

University of Alberta Centennial Award, 2007.

Dean’s Silver Medal in Science, University of Alberta, 2007.

Gold Medal in Chemistry, University of Alberta, 2007.

NSERC Canadian Graduate Scholarship (masters), 2007.

NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award, 2006.

Governor General’s Bronze Academic Medal, Archbishop Jordan High School, 2003.






Key publications

  1. Heshka, N.E., Hager, D.B., “Measurement of H2S in Crude Oil and Crude Oil Headspace Using Multidimensional Gas Chromatography, Deans Switching and Sulfur-Selective Detection”, Journal of Visualized Experiments, 2015, 106, e53416, DOI: 10.3791/53416 *Invited submission
  2. Heshka, N.E., Hager, D.B., “A Multidimensional Gas Chromatography Method for the Analysis of H2S in Crude Oil and Crude Oil Headspace”, Journal of Separation Science, 2014, 37, 3649-3655.
  3. Oro, N.E., Lucy, C.A., “Analysis of Nitrogen Content in Distillate Cut Gas Oils and Treated Heavy Gas Oils Using High Performance Liquid Chromatography, Fraction Collection and Petroleomic Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry Data”, Energy & Fuels, 2013, 27, 35-45.
  4. Oro, N.E., Whittal, R.M., Lucy, C.A., “Sample Handling and Contamination Encountered When Coupling Offline High Performance Liquid Chromatography Fraction Collection of Petroleum Samples to Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry”, Analytica Chimica Acta, 2012, 741, 70-77.
  5. Oro, N.E., Lucy, C.A., “High Performance Liquid Chromatographic Separations of Gas Oil Samples and Their Hydrotreated Products Using Commercial Normal Phases”, Journal of Chromatography A, 2011, 1218, 7788-7795. 
  6. Oro, N.E., Lucy, C.A., “Comparison of hypercrosslinked polystyrene columns for the separation of nitrogen group-types in petroleum using High Performance Liquid Chromatography”, Journal of Chromatography A, 2010, 1217, 6178-6185.