Jane Menken received her A.B in Mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960, her M.S. in Biostatistics at Harvard School of Public Health in 1962, and her PhD in Sociology and Demography at Princeton University in 1975. After holding several positions at Princeton University, including Assistant Director (1978-86) and Associate Director (1986-87) of the Office of Population Research, Professor of Sociology (1980-82) and Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs (1982-1987), she subsequently spent 10 years as the UPS Foundation Professor in the Social Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania (1987-97) and as the Director of Penn’s Population Studies Center (1989-1995). She moved to the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1997, where she is Director of the Institute of Behavioral Science and Distinguished Professor of Sociology.
Menken was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1989), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1990), and the Institute of Medicine (1995). She was the 1985 President of the Population Association of America and the 2009 IUSSP Laureate. In addition, she has made numerous contributions to the profession by serving on several committees of the National Research Council, the operating agency of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, including the Committees on Population and Demography, on Population, on AIDS Research Needs in the Social, Behavioral, and Statistical Sciences, the Panel on Data and Research Priorities for Arresting AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. She most recently chaired the Panel on Policy Research and Data Needs to Meet the Challenges of Aging in Africa. She also chaired the NAS Committee on Population (1998-2002) and its Working Group on Aging in Africa (2002-2006). She was a member of the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education and of the U.S. delegation to the 1993 Population Summit of the World’s Scientific Academies in New Delhi.
She has also served on several National Institutes of Health advisory committees; she chaired the Social Sciences and Population Study Section (1980-82) and served on the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (1995-2000) and the Advisory Board of the Fogarty International Center (2000-2002). She has served on committees at the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation, and on the Board of Directors of the Alan Guttmacher Institute.
Her many contributions also extend internationally. She frequently acts as a consultant to the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh. She has chaired the African Population and Health Research Center (Nairobi, Kenya) Board of Directors, and served as a member of the Southern African Journal of Demography Editorial Board. She chaired the Steering Committee of the Mellon HIV/AIDS Program at the University of KwaZuluNatal, (Durban, South Africa) and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the INDEPTH Network (2002-2007). In recognition of her work with the University of the Witwatersrand on collaborative research on HIV/AIDS and in developing their Population Studies Program, Wits awarded her an Honorary Professorship.
Her scientific contributions are just as numerous and wide-ranging. She is a leader in numerous fields, including mathematical models of reproduction, fertility determinants, demographic change in South Asia, and social impact of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. As part of her fertility research, she has carried out studies of the increase in sterility as women age, fertility determinants in Bangladesh, and teenage pregnancy and childbearing in the United States. More recent research concerns population policy, child mortality in developing countries, demographic change in South Asia, especially as it relates to family networks as determinants of health and education, effects of early life conditions on adult health, particularly of women, and social impact of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. She is the author of over 100 publications and author or editor of five books. Her research has been funded by grants from the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Fogarty International Center, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.