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Skidmore College
Environmental Studies and Sciences

Kurt SmemoKurt Smemo

Assistant Professor Environmental Studies and Sciences Program

At Skidmore since 2015
Curriculum Vitae

Contact Information

Office: Dana 183
Phone: x5218 (off campus: 518-580-5218)


  • B.S. 1994, University of Montana
  • M.S. 1998, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Ph.D. 2003, Cornell University
  • Postdoctoral Fellow 2003–2005, University of Michigan 


  • ES 105 Field Studies in Environmental Science
  • ES 205 Forest Conservation
  • ES 206 Watershed Assessment
  • ES 352D Soil Science, Ecology, and Geography
  • ES 374/375 Capstone Experience in Environmental Studies and Sciences 


The Skidmore Biogeochemistry Laboratory focuses on terrestrial ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry with a focus global environmental change impacts on forest, wetland, and aquatic ecosystems. We are particularly interested in how below-ground microbial processes mediate productivity and carbon and nutrient cycling patterns at the local to global scale. Students in the lab learn techniques for measuring biogeochemical process rates and quantifying ecosystem properties across varying spatial and temporal scales. Some specific research areas in which students are involved are:

  • Forest carbon and nutrient cycling in response to atmospheric deposition
  • Terrestrial controls on nutrient transport to surface waters and aquatic ecosystems
  • Microbial controls on the production and emission of greenhouse gases from soils and sediments
  • Plant traits and soil microbial community composition as drivers of ecosystem nutrient cycling and organic matter dynamics


Valverde-Barrantes, O.J., A. Horning, K.A. Smemo, and C.B. Blackwood. 2016.  Phylogenetically structured traits in root systems influence arbuscular mycorrhizal colonization in woody angiosperms. Plant and Soil doi: 10.1007/s11104-016-2820-6.

Carrino-Kyker, S.R., L.A. Kluber, S.P. Petersen K.P. Coyle, C. Hewins, J.L. DeForest, , and K.A. Smemo, and D.J. Burke. 2016.  Mycorrhizal fungal communities respond to experimental elevation of soil pH and P availability in temperate hardwood forests. FEMS Microbiology Ecology doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiw024.

Valverde-Barrantes, O.J., K.A. Smemo, and C.B. Blackwood. 2015.  Fine root morphology is phylogenetically structured, but nitrogen is related to the plant economics spectrum in temperate trees. Functional Ecology 29(6):796-807.

Valverde-Barrantes, O.J., K.A. Smemo, M. Kershner, and C.B. Blackwood.  2015.  Aggregated and complimentary: fine root distribution patterns in a temperate deciduous forest. New Phytologist .

Mahaney, W.M., K.L. Gross, C.B. Blackwood and K.A. Smemo. 2015. Short-term impacts of prairie grass re-establishment on soil properties and invasibility: Implications for restoration success.  Applied Vegetation Science 18(1):99-109.

Burke, D.J., C.R. Hewins, and K.A. Smemo. 2014. Ectomycorrhizal fungi isolated from old-growth northern hardwood forest display variability in extracellular enzyme activity in the presence of plant litter.  Soil Biology and Biochemistry 68:219-222.

V. Gupta, K.A. Smemo, J.B. Yavitt, and N. Basiliko. 2013. Stable isotopes reveal widespread anaerobic CH4 oxidation across peatland type and latitude. Environmental Science & Technology 47(15):8273-9, doi: 10.1021/es400484t.

Carrino-Kyker, S.R., K.A. Smemo, and D.J. Burke. 2013. Shotgun metagenomic analysis of metabolic diversity and microbial community structure in experimental vernal pools subjected to nitrate pulse. BMC Microbiology 13:78, doi:10.1186/1471-2180-13-78.

Blackwood, C.B., K.A. Smemo, M.W. Kershner, L.M. Feinstein, and O.J. Valverde-Barrantes.  2013. Decay of ecosystem differences and decoupling of tree community-soil environment relationships at ecotones. Ecological Monographs, 83(3): 403–417.

Valverde-Barrantes, O.J., K.A. Smemo*, L.M. Feinstein, M.W. Kershner and C.B. Blackwood.  2013.  The distribution of below-ground traits is explained by intrinsic species differences and
intraspecific plasticity in response to root neighbors. Journal of Ecology 101(4): 933-942, doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12087. 


  • American Geophysical Union
  • Ecological Society of America
  • Soil Science Society of America
  • Society of Wetland Scientists
  • Council on Undergraduate Research