Olivia DrakeNovember 1, 20211min
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Helen Poulos recently co-authored three new papers: “Wildfire and topography drive woody plant diversity in a Sky Island mountain range in the Southwest USA,” published in Ecology and Evolution on Oct. 5. “Choked out: Battling invasive giant cane along the Rio Grande/ Bravo Borderlands,” published in River Research and Applications on Sept. 20. And “Mixed-severity wildfire as a driver of vegetation change in an Arizona Madrean Sky Island System, USA,” written alongside Michael Freiburger ’21 and published in Fire on Oct. 20. Poulos’s research focuses on plant distribution patterns as a result of the…

Olivia DrakeMay 10, 20212min
Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, is the lead author on a research article titled “Wildlife severity and vegetation recovery drive post-fire evapotranspiration in a southwestern pine-oak forest, Arizona, USA” published in Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation on May 8, 2021. Undergraduates Michael Freiburger '21 and Hunter Vannie '20 assisted in collecting field data. From the paper’s abstract: In this study, post-fire ET was driven by plant species composition and tree canopy cover. ET was significantly higher in the morning and midday in densely vegetated post-fire shrublands than pine-dominated forests that remained 5–7 years after wildfire. Our…

Editorial StaffApril 5, 20214min
Peter “Kosty” Kostacopoulos, adjunct professor of physical education, emeritus, and former head baseball coach and assistant football coach, passed away on March 25 at the age of 86. Kosty earned his BS from the University of Maine, where he lettered in football, basketball, and baseball, and made the All-Maine Conference in football and basketball. After coaching at Bowdoin for nine years, he arrived at Wesleyan in 1968. He served as head baseball coach for 28 years and assistant football coach for 19 years. He also served as a head squash coach during this time. Kosty led the Cardinals to 11…

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Olivia DrakeMarch 1, 20212min
Gabe Snashall '21 and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Helen Poulos are the co-authors of "Oreos Versus Orangutans: The Need for Sustainability Transformations and Nonhierarchical Polycentric Governance in the Global Palm Oil Industry," published in the Feb. 22 issue of Forests. According to the paper's abstract, "While the myriad benefits of palm oil as a food, makeup, and cleaning product additive drive its demand, globally, the palm oil industry remains largely unsustainable and unregulated. The negative externalities of palm oil production are diverse and devastating to tropical ecosystem integrity and human livelihoods in palm oil nations. Given the current…

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Olivia DrakeDecember 11, 20191min
Wildfires can transform forest ecosystems to varying degrees, depending on fire severity. While low-severity wildfires change plant community composition by killing short-statured trees and understory plants, high-severity fires result in top kill of above-ground vegetation. This variation in wildfire effects can have major impacts on post-fire vegetation composition and water stress. Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, received a $300,000 grant from NASA on Dec. 5 to examine how forests can permanently change in response to high-severity wildfire in southeastern Arizona. (more…)

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Olivia DrakeSeptember 3, 20195min
The rare Guadalupe fescue once thrived in abundance atop mountains spanning the Texas-Mexico border, however, the desert-growing perennial grass is now so endangered, it only flourishes in two locations on Earth. The rapid population decline is leaving scientists puzzled. "Developing an effective recovery plan is essential for protecting Guadalupe fescue, however, the lack of basic information about this species’ ecology is a serious barrier to that goal," explained Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies. "Urgent action is needed to stabilize the two extant populations." This summer, under Poulos's leadership, Wesleyan received a National Park Service Grant to study…

Olivia DrakeFebruary 27, 20193min
Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, is the coauthor of two published papers in February. "Response of Arizona cypress (Hesperocyparis arizonica) to the Horseshoe Two Megafire in a south-eastern Arizona Sky Island mountain range," is published in the February issue of International Journal of Wildland Fire (Issue 28, pages 62-69). It is coauthored by Andrew Barton, professor of biology at the University of Maine at Farmington. This study documents the effects of the 2011 Horseshoe Two Fire in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona on Arizona Cypress. Two Wesleyan students, Hunter Vannier '20 and Michael Freiburger '21 assisted…

Avery Kaplan '20November 6, 20182min
Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, is the coauthor of two papers published Oct. 22 in the journals Fire and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, respectively. Poulos lead-authored a paper on fire and plant evolutionary ecology titled, "Do Mixed Fire Regimes Shape Plant Flammability and Post-Fire Recovery Strategies?" Contrary to a new model assuming that plant species have evolved three divergent flammability strategies, Poulos and her fellow researchers present three case studies that indicate plant species have evolved "bet-hedging strategies" that mix a variety of flammability and post-fire recovery strategies. Poulos also co-authored a paper led by ecologist Christopher Johnson of…

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Lauren RubensteinJune 16, 20143min
On June 15, Helen Poulos, a postdoctoral fellow in the College of the Environment, set sail aboard the Charles W. Morgan, the last remaining wooden whaling ship in the world. Built and launched in 1841, the Morgan embarked on 37 voyages up until 1921, roaming every corner of the globe in pursuit of whales. She had been docked at the Mystic Seaport in Connecticut since 1940, and underwent major restoration work in recent years. This month, she took one final commemorative voyage in order to call attention to the importance of historic ships and America’s maritime heritage, as well as…

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Editorial StaffDecember 7, 20224min
Over the past century, forests across the western United States have become vulnerable to catastrophic wildfires due to climate change. Overall, forest management activities for lowering wildfire risk appear to help, but little is known about how these activities influence forest water availability and water cycling, important indicators of drought. This is the key question that Environmental Studies Professor Helen Mills Poulos and her research team at Northern Arizona University, led by Temuulen Tsagaan Sankey, will attempt to address in a new NASA-funded research project. Poulos and her research team received a $597,000 grant from NASA in November to study…

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Olivia DrakeJune 6, 202216min
Wesleyan’s intellectually dynamic faculty, students, alumni, staff, and parents frequently serve as expert sources for national media. Others are noted for recent achievements and accolades. In The Conversation, Benjamin Elling, assistant professor of chemistry, explains why Bisphenol A, or BPA, is so widely used to make plastics, despite its reputation for causing adverse health effects. Elling, a synthetic polymer chemist, says BPA-derived polycarbonates "are transparent, incredibly strong, light, and don’t begin to melt or lose structural integrity until they reach high temperatures." Polycarbonates, he says, are a ubiquitous part of modern life. "A major concern with designing new plastics is…

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Olivia DrakeJanuary 11, 202218min
Despite a tumultuous year intertwined with pandemic up-and-downs, the Wesleyan community persevered. After returning to full, in-person learning for the Spring 2021 semester, students resumed their research, community service, social justice and entrepreneurial projects, extracurriculars, and athletic contests. The Class of 2021 celebrated with an in-person, mask-optional graduation ceremony. Members of the faculty won numerous grants and prizes and an alumnus even brought home an Oscar. Wesleyan continues to help people become more engaged citizens while offering a robust liberal education. In this timeline, we look back and explore some of Wesleyan's highlights in 2021: Feb. 9: Students Return to Campus for…