Kirsten has a Ph.D. in Geosciences and a Masters in Aquatic Ecology. Her research uses skeletal records and their geochemistry to document anthropogenic environmental change and life history shifts. More recently Kirsten has been developing programs that focus on collaborative leadership, broadening participation in environmental and sustainablity research to action, and inclusive excellence. Examples of this work include Research and Innovation Faculty Fellows and Global Sustainability Scholars which she currently runs; and Doris Duke Conservation Scholars program that she directed while at University of Washington. As a part of these initiatives, she started the Conservation Conversations and Conservation Stories and RIO Faculty Fellows TED talks in Boulder.