Professor Valencius teaches and writes about American environments and peoples. Her classes include “Leeches to Lasers,” a survey of U.S. health and medicine, and “This Land is Your Land,” which introduces U.S. environmental history. She is currently working on a book about the earthquakes and contemporary energy, focused on the emerging science of induced seismology and hydraulic fracturing.
Professor Valencius’s 2013 book The Lost History of the New Madrid Earthquakes explored the impact and continuing scientific importance of great nineteenth-century quakes in the Mississippi Valley. Her first book, The Health of the Country: How American Settlers Understood Themselves and Their Land, won the 2003 George Perkins Marsh Award as best book of the year from the American Society for Environmental History. Two articles – about health in women’s letters and about Sacagawea’s illness during the Lewis and Clark expedition – won awards in women’s history. Her work has been supported by fellowships from the Dibner Institute, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.