poulos receives $300k nasa research grant

Helen Poulos on a research trip in Arizona.
Helen Poulos on a research trip in Arizona.

Dr. Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies, has been awarded a $300,000 NASA grant to examine forest type-conversion through the lens of evapotranspiration (plant sweat) in response to high-severity wildfire in southeastern Arizona. Poulos and her team will conduct their research using imagery gathered by the ECOSTRESS sensor mounted on the International Space Station. It will be the first-ever test of the ECOSTRESS sensor’s applicability for wildfire-related research.

Plants facing the aftermath of wildfire often have insufficient water, which causes their temperature to rise. The ECOSTRESS radiometer measures the temperatures of plants across Earth to an extraordinarily accurate degree. Poulos’s NASA-funded project will specifically investigate the effects of the 2011 Horseshoe Two Fire on post-fire plant and site water balance and evaluate the potential of using data gathered from the ECOSTRESS sensor to predict wildfire effects on plant community structure and water relations in an Arizona Sky Island pine-oak forest.

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get to know our envs military vets: freiburger ’21 & snashall ’21

The Posse Veteran Scholars Program identifies talented veterans interested in pursuing bachelor’s degrees, and places them at top tier colleges and universities, where they receive four-year full scholarships. Each year, Wesleyan accepts a “posse” of 10 veterans. Today, on Veterans Day, we honor all U.S. military veterans by shining the spotlight on two of our own: Gabe Snashall ’21 and Michael Freiburger ’21.

You’re both Posse Veterans here at Wes, class of 2021. Why did you join the military and what was your role?
Michael Freiburger (MF): I joined the Army right out of high school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, and college wasn’t an option, but I knew that I needed to get out of my hometown. I spent the majority of my service at Fort Bragg North Carolina (5 years), and two years station in Germany. I deployed to Afghanistan twice and worked as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician – Bomb Squad.

Gabe Snashall (GS): I joined right after graduating from High School in Fresno, California in 2011. At the time, the unemployment rate in my hometown was +18% and rising, so everybody I knew was leaving to either go to college, the peace corps, or the military. For me, the better option seemed to be a military program that offered college credit, a year or two of formal military training, and, of course, a decent amount of travel experience. Broadly speaking, I chose the military option for the opportunity to focus on and explore what I wanted to do in life, what I wanted to study, and where I wanted to go to school. I found that opportunity with the Naval Submarine Service and left my hometown a short two weeks after signing paperwork. That decision took me to Chicago for bootcamp and Connecticut for Submarine School. I was then stationed on the USS Pittsburgh (recently decommissioned) from 2011-2016, and was deployed to the Middle East, the North Pole, the Indian Sea, the Arctic Sea, and the Caribbean. In fact, I think we sailed the globe over three times while I was onboard. On land, we would port in Scotland, Spain, the UAE, and Norway. On ‘The Pit’, I officially served as an Electronics Technician (ET)—specializing in satellite telecommunications, cryptographic operations, and radar and periscope maintenance. Unofficially, my peers knew me as “Snooki,” a nickname that was a reference to, and mostly making fun of, the loud and annoying way I would persuade submarine officers to accept my work requests or proposals. I won’t go into detail here, but the highly chaotic working world on a submarine brings out the most competitive side of all who work onboard—so it’s an anything goes world, really.

How did you find out about the Posse Veterans program?
MF: I found out about the Posse Veterans program while I was processing out of the military. I was pretty fortunate that Posse representatives were at Fort Bragg the same week I was in mandatory exit briefs. I was lucky enough to meet with the program that week and began the process that brought me here to Wesleyan.

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envs spanish-language course explores venezuela

This spring, Wesleyan will offer its first-ever Spanish-speaking cross-departmental course, ENVS283/LAST383, Venezuela: The Effect of Oil Discovery on People, the Environment, and Democracy. The course will be taught by Antonio Machado-Allison, former Menakka and Essel Bailey ‘66 Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment and current research fellow in the College of the Environment. He was recently named a member of the Academia de Ciencias de América Latina.

Antonio Machado-Allison
Antonio Machado-Allison

Tell us about ENVS283. Why are you focusing on Venezuela?
Antonio Macado-Allison (AMA): Being a Venezuelan scholar and witnessing what is happening in my country, one way I think I can help my people is to let citizens of other countries know how Venezuela arrived at these conditions. In the course we will discuss the key factors that have affected the development of Venezuela and its environment from the pre-colonial period to the present through the reading of interdisciplinary literature that includes anthropology, religion, sociology, environmental sciences, law, and history. Ultimately, we will examine the factors that have led to the collapse of democracy in Venezuela.

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a perfect day for 2019 pumpkin fest

On Saturday, October 5, hundreds of Wes and Middletown community members spent their day soaking up the sun at Long Lane Farm’s 2019 Pumpkin Fest. Cosponsored by the COE, the Green Fund, and Wesleyan Bon Appetit, the student-run event featured live local bands, local vendors, farm tours, crafts, free veggie burgers and cider thanks to Bon Appetit, baked goods for sale benefitting New Horizons Domestic Violence Shelter, a pie-eating contest with prizes courtesy of WesPress, and lots of Wes student groups, including the Sustainability Office, CAG, WesDivest, Bread Salvage, Resource Center Spirituality and Sustainability Interns, WildWes, Natural History Museum, Sunrise, Outing Club, Wesleyan Refugee Project, Uslac, Veg Out, Real Food Challenge, NEAT &  WesNEAT. A special thanks to Wesleyan RJ Julia, NoRA Cupcakes, Auntie Arwen’s Spices, and Adelbrook Bark-ery for joining us for the day⁠—and to an amazing lineup of talented performers for sharing their songs: Lopii, Iris Olympia, Barry Chernoff, Emcee Elvee, Rebecca Roff, and Skye Hawthorne!

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think tank explores beyond the human

Each academic year the COE gathers a small group of Wesleyan faculty members, a scholar of prominence from outside Wesleyan, and a small group of undergraduate students into a year-long academic think tank on a critical environmental issue. The aim of the think tank is not only to generate a deeper understanding of the thematic issue, but also to produce scholarly works that will influence national/international thinking and action on the issue.  This year’s Think Tank theme: Meaningful Worlds: Listening and Learning Beyond the Human.

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versey, ritter ‘19 explore environmentally induced displacement with coe faculty-student research grant

Assistant Professor of Psychology H. Shellae Versey, PhD and Emma Ritter ’19 launched a faculty-student research collaboration during the 2018-2019 academic year exploring Communities in Crisis: The impact of disasters on mental health. The research focused on environmental hazardsboth natural and manmadeand the resulting effect on health and displacement among various communities. A COE faculty-student research a grant provided Versey and Ritter the opportunity to conduct research that would not have been otherwise possible.

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