Kirsten M. Menking

Professor of Earth Science on the Althea Ward Clark Chair

Kirsten Menking conducts research on past climate change, on landscape evolution due to climatic and tectonic processes, and on the impacts of urbanization on streams. For her dissertation she took part in a US Geological Survey Project to study sediments from Owens Lake in eastern California where she reconstructed cycles of glaciation and lake level change over the last 800,000 years. More recently she has worked on the climate record contained within Lake Estancia in central New Mexico and on the late glacial and Holocene history of southeastern New York. The latter work has taken her to lakes in the Shawangunk Mts. and to Lozier Pond, a small lake from which the Hyde Park mastodon was unearthed in 2000. With colleagues in Geography, Biology, Chemistry, and Urban Studies, she also carries out investigations on road salt and nutrient contamination of streams in Dutchess County, New York.

BA, Occidental College; PhD, University of California-Santa Cruz
At Vassar since 1997


Ely Hall
Box 59

Research and Academic Interests

Past Climate Change


ENST 124 Essentials of Environmental Science
ENST/ESCI 361 Modeling the Earth

Selected Publications

Selected publications

  • Menking, K.M., Peteet, D.M., and Anderson, R.Y., 2012, Late-glacial and Holocene vegetation and climate variability, including major droughts, in the Sky Lakes region of southeastern New York State, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 353-355, p. 45-59.
  • Cunningham, M.A., Menking, K.M., Gillikin, D.P., Smith, K.C., Freimuth, C., Belli, S.L., Pregnall, A.M., Schlessman, M.A., and Batur, P., 2010, Influence of non-impervious area on longitudinal recovery of an urban stream, Physical Geography, v. 30, doi: 10.2747/0272-3646.30.3.269.
  • Cunningham, M.A., O’Reilly, C.M., Menking, K.M., Gillikin, D.P., Smith, K.C.*, Foley, C.M.*, Belli, S.L., Pregnall, A.M., Schlessman, M.A., and Batur, P., 2009, The Suburban Stream Syndrome: Evaluating Land Use and Stream Impairments in the Suburbs, Physical Geography, v. 30, p. 269-284.
  • Menking, K.M., Schneiderman, J.S., Nester, P.L., Bedient, K.D.*, Collins, B.C.*, and Feingold, B.J.*, 2008, Lithology and stratigraphy of core LP2A from the Hyde Park mastodon site, southeastern New York, Palaeontographica Americana, v. 61, p. 143-150.

Books and book chapters

  • Merritts, D.J., Menking, K.M., and DeWet, A.P., 2014, Environmental Geology: An Earth System Science Approach, 2nd Edition, New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.
  • Menking, K.M., 2000, A Record of Climate Change from Owens Lake Sediments, in Schneiderman, J.S., ed., The Earth Around Us: Maintaining a Livable Planet. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, p. 322-335.
  • Menking, K.M., 2000, chapter summaries and thought questions, in Earth Issues Reader, New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 132 p.
  • Merritts, D.J., DeWet, A.P., and Menking, K.M., 1998, Environmental Geology: An Earth System Science Approach, New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 452 p.


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Kirsten M. Menking
John Abbott