Note: In 2010 I changed my name from Amanda Curry Henck to Amanda Henck Schmidt. Previous research appears under both names.

Yangjuan, Sichuan, China
Yangjuan, Sichuan, China.

Land Acknowledgements

We acknowledge that in Oberlin we gather on Indigenous land, including traditional territory of the Erie and Haudenosaunee Confederacies and signers of the 1805 Treaty of Fort Industry. In the Seneca language, Ohi:yo' is a Good Flowing Stream, and we honor those who have stewarded northeast Ohio's waters and lands across the generations. This calls us to commit to continuing to learn how to be better stewards of the resources that sustain us as well. (With credit to Amy Margaris, Chie Sakakibara, and Alexandra Letvin.)

We acknowledge that we are working on land of the Wampanoag people who are the original stewards of this land. The island of Noepe, now called Martha's Vineyard, means Dry Land amid the Water and we honor those who have cared for the island’s resources for generations. We commit to learning how to be better stewards of this land, sustainably using its resources, and valuing the presence of Wampanoag knowledge upon it.

We acknowledge that we are working and benefiting off of the homeland of the Taino, Ciboney, and the Guanahatabeyes peoples who are the rightful stewards of Cubanascan, now called Cuba. We commit ourselves to observing, learning, and honoring the knowledge and traditions of original peoples of the island in our research.

We acknowledge that we are working and benefiting off of the homeland of the Kalinago people, Wai'tukubli, now called Dominica, who are the rightful stewards of Dominica. We commit ourselves to learning from their knowledge of the land in order to be better stewards of the land in the future.

We acknowledge that the watersheds we study in SW China drain land traditionally occupied by a large number of indigenous groups, termed ethnic minorities in China, including Tibetan and Nuosu, who have a variety of traditional relationships to the land and are now governed by the People's Republic of China.

We acknowledge that the land we work on in New Hampshire is in Pemijoasik, part of the territory of the Wabanaki people. We acknowledge the Wabanaki as the original people of this land, their continuing presence and relationship with their territory, and the contributions that Indigenous knowledge can make in learning to understand and live sustainably with the land. (With credit to Scott Bailey.)

Overview of my research

In my research I try to use a variety of tools to understand why the surface of Earth looks the way that it does. At the biggest scale, I am interested in how we can learn about what forces shape the landscapes that we see today. My research ranges in scale from small-scale projects that are community driven and aim to understand how people interact with their environments to large-scale projects to understand landscape evolution over million-year timescales

My latest research is driven by two overarching questions:
1) What happens to sediment movement over the landscape when people change the environment?
2) What has shaped the long-term evolution of the landscape of Eastern Tibet?

To conduct this research I use a variety of tools including short-lived radionuclides (processed at Oberlin), cosmogenic radionuclides, field work, GIS and remote-sensing based landscape analysis, and Chinese sediment data. I collaborate closely with colleagues at a number of universities in natural resources, geology, geography, anthropology, urban planning, and forest resources departments.

My research was focused in western China for many years, and I still have some projects there. I work on small-scale problems in western and northern Sichuan Province and larger scale problems in eastern Tibet, Yunnan, and western Sichuan. I have close collaborative relationships with the Community Cosmogenic Nuclide Laboratory and Geomorphology Research Group at the University of Vermont, the Environmental Science department at Sichuan University, and the Center for the Study of the Environment (CEAC) in Cuba.

In the past five years I have branched out from China and have projects in Cuba, Dominica, Ohio, the Weddell Sea, Martha's Vineyard, and New Hampshire. The work in Cuba and Dominica is in collaboration with the University of Vermont. In Cuba we are looking at how the transition to organic agriculture in the 1990s affected erosion and water quality across the island. In Dominica we are studying the effects of Hurricane Maria on erosion. In Ohio I am part of a collaboration with the USGS and The Ohio State University to look at phosphorous loading in Lake Erie. My students and I are dating cores from the Weddell Sea as part of a collaboration with the Marine Biology Lab and Bentley College to study microplastics. In Martha's Vineyard we are working with a homeowner's association to quantify sedimentation rates in a salt marsh. In New Hampshire we are tracking the effects of land use change on sedimentation in mountain lakes.

Last update: 28 January 2022

Contact me


amanda . schmidt at oberlin . edu
(remove extra spaces and replace at with @)

At work

CARN 403A (office) and 416 (lab)
Phone: 440-775-8342

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