Soil Health Lab Manager, School of Integrative Plant Science Soil and Crop Sciences Section
Kirsten is a research support specialist and manager of the Cornell Soil Health Lab. Contact her about sample submission (initial lab contact, test results/turn around time, etc.), lab analysis procedures, general soil health questions, soil painting and outreach programs.
She received her Master of Sciences from the Graduate Field of of Natural Resources and the Environment at Cornell University in 2021. Her thesis focused on quantifying the health of undisturbed grassland soils when compared to active agricultural lands and the consequent remediation of degraded grassland soils.
Kirsten is also an artist who married her love of art and science by creating paintings made entirely of pigments derived from soil. She discovered and honed this technique of mixing various dried soils with a gesso binder while working on her senior thesis to complete a B.A. in Visual Arts.
In addition to painting on commission in her studio in Ithaca, N.Y., Kirsten organizes community events where she uses soil painting as a vehicle to inspire participants to not only celebrate the beauty of soil, but to also think about soil as an essential natural resource — as important to our quality of life as clean air and water.
Her first community mural event celebrating World Soil Day at Cornell University in 2015 inspired the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) to organize a global soil painting contest in 2017. Kirsten led a team that created Three Sisters in Soil, which won first place in the university category. The painting hangs in the entrance to Bradfield Hall on the Cornell campus.
- Instagram: @kirsten_kurtz
- Kirsten Kurtz YouTube Channel
- Growth Medium, Cornell Alumni Magazine, July/August 2018
- Soil Scientist and Artist - Science Societies Career Center profile
- Kirsten Kurtz, the soil scientist and artist who paints with dirt - Yale Climate Connections
Art and science
ksk64 [at] cornell.edu
Kirsten in the news
To fill that research gap, a team of soil scientists in Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), conducted a state-funded project to characterize soil health across New York state agricultural lands. Published in...
- School of Integrative Plant Science
- Horticulture Section
- Soil and Crop Sciences Section
Kirsten Kurtz, manager of Cornell’s Soil Health Testing Laboratory and graduate student in the field of natural resources, is on a mission to save and celebrate soil – by painting with it.