Melissa Charenko, Ph.D.

Melissa  Charenko
  • Assistant Professor
  • History, Philosophy & Sociology of Science
  • Department of History, College of Social Science
  • Holmes Hall, E-194A
  • 919 E. Shaw Lane
  • East Lansing, MI 48825
  • (517) 884-1520


  • LB 325A: Science and the Environment
  • LB 321A: Science and the Public
  • LB 492: Senior Seminar


Melissa Charenko received her Ph.D. in the History of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018. Her work explores the politics of knowledge production, especially the techniques that ecologists developed in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries in order to understand the changing dynamics of human-environment interactions over tens of thousands of years. She is particularly interested in how ecologists use proxies, the preserved physical remnants of past environments that stand in for direct measurements, in order to understand the past and to predict the future. At Lyman Briggs, Dr. Charenko teaches courses on Science and the Environment (where students explore sites across campus and in Lansing that bring issues of science and the environment together) and the Senior Seminar (where students use a board game to understand biology and society. She also teaches courses on Environmental History in the History Department. 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.


Ph.D., History of Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison

M.A., Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, (IHPST), University of Toronto

Honors B.A. & B.Sc., Arts and Science, McMaster University


External Fellowships

  • 2017  Predoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
  • 2017  Mellon-Wisconsin Summer Fellowship 
  • 2017  Grey Towers Scholar-In-Residence, USDA Forest Service
  • 2016-17  Consortium for the History of Science Research Fellow
  • 2012-14 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship 
  • 2014 Girl Guides of Canada National Scholarship Fulltime 
  • 2011-12, 2010-11 Ontario Graduate Scholarships 

External Academic Awards

  • 2012 Hadden Prize for Best Student Paper, Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science
University Fellowships
  • 2018  William Coleman Dissertation Fellowship 
  • 2016-17  Graduate School Fellow, UW-Madison 
  • 2015-16, 2012-13 University of Wisconsin Fellowships 
  • 2012  Vilas Welcome Award 
  • 2011-12, 2010-11 University of Toronto Fellowships 

Research and Archival Grants

  • 2016 University of Wisconsin Graduate School Research Grant 
  • 2016 Howard T. Odum Research Travel Grant 
  • 2016, 2015  Centre for Culture, History and Environment Graduate Student Research and Travel Grants 
  • 2014  Elmer L. Andersen Research Scholars Award, University of Minnesota 
  • 2014  Network in Canadian History of Environment Grant