Melissa Charenko

Position: Assistant Professor

Field: United States, Environmental

Office: 208A Old Horticulture Building

Dr. Charenko is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History (25%) and Lyman Briggs College (75%). She received her PhD in History of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018. Broadly interested in the history of ecology and environmental history, her work explores scientists’ diverse understandings of climate, which, she argues, arise from the various ways that scientists encounter, measure, and see climate. She concentrates on the ways that scientists use climate proxies, such as fossil pollen, tree rings, or air bubbles in ice, to understand earth’s climate over the past 12,000 years or longer, as well as the ways these proxies are used to foresee future climates. Some of this work is published as “Reconstructing Climate: Paleoecology and the Limits of Prediction during the 1930s Dust Bowl” in Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences (2020).

Dr. Charenko has been a fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, and her work has been supported by the Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine as well as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. In 2020-2021, Dr. Charenko will be a Resident Fellow at the Institute for Historical Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.