i’m feeling (the class of 20) ’22

Congratulations to our 25 ENVS majors graduating with Wesleyan’s Class of 2022! Always amazing to recognize the breadth of our ENVS students, from majors across the university, and the depth of their academic research and interests! Find out more, below!






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standing with ukraine

The College of the Environment, the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, the Fries Center for Global Studies, and Russian, Eastern European & Eurasian Studies present a series of international livestream conversations with students, journalists, civic leaders, and others in Ukraine. Links to recordings of all past series events can be found below.

Week 7: Fri, April 22 at noon
Fries Center for Global Studies (Fisk 201)
Link to join online: bit.ly/ukraineseries
This week, we’re joined by investigative journalist Mustafa Nayyem, former Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, who is credited as catalyzing the Maidan protest in Kyiv in 2013 with his fierce defense of open journalism, democracy, freedom, and famous call to action stating, “Likes don’t count.” Nayyem was elected to the Ukrainian Rada Parliament in 2014 and in 2021 appointed as Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Transport. He is currently in Kyiv, actively engaged in the defense against Russia.

Past events

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abrell brings animal instincts to coe

The COE shares faculty from across departments and programs at Wesleyan, including government, history, art, dance, computer science, English, philosophy, environmental science, biology, African American studies, physics, classical studies, chemistry, Science in Society, theater, religion, economics, archaeology, and more. Elan Abrell is currently a visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Wesleyan. He will become a professor of the practice in environmental studies in fall 2022.

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pinkus ’21 supports volunteerism at us forest service

Andrei PinkusAndrei Pinkus ‘21 is a communications and data support resource assistant at the US Forest Service. During his time at Wesleyan, Andrei was a recipient of a 2020 COE Summer Research Fellowship. He graduated with a BA in government and environmental studies.

Why did you choose to be an environmental studies (ENVS) linked major here at Wes?
I’ve always had a passion for environmental issues. Even as a kid I was aware of the negative ways humans influence the environment; I made a habit of turning off lights, taking shorter showers, and never wasting food. So, in that way, I suppose I’ve always been environmentally conscious. Only at Wesleyan, through my ENVS classes, did I realize just how intersectional (and important) the field was. The environment is everything, and without it we have nothing. Although it sometimes feels like an impossible quest, I want to dedicate my career to doing whatever is possible to make the world at least just a little better than when I came into it. That’s why I chose to be an ENVS major.

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think tank explores ways to visualize environmental change

COE Think Tank
2021-22 Think Tank members, from top left: Olivia Baglieri ’22, Dylan Judd ’22, Jennifer Raynor, Skye Hawthorne ’22, Alton C. Byers, Helen Poulos, Suzanne O’Connell, Courtney Fullilove, Antonio Machado-Allison.

Each academic year, the COE gathers a small group of Wesleyan faculty members, a scholar of prominence from outside Wesleyan, and undergraduate students into a year-long academic think tank on a critical environmental issue. The aim of the COE 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. The Think Tank theme for 2021-22 is visualizing environmental change.

Our 2021-22 COE Think Tank faculty fellows are: Suzanne O’Connell, the Harold T. Stearns Professor of Earth Science; Jennifer Raynor, assistant professor of economics; Courtney Fullilove, associate professor of history; Helen Poulos, adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies; Antonio Machado-Allison, university professor in the College of the Environment; and Alton C. Byers, senior research scientist at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTARR) at the University of Colorado at Boulder and this year’s Menakka and Essel Bailey ‘66 Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the College of the Environment. Olivia Baglieri ’22, Dylan Judd ’22, and Skye Hawthorne ’22 will also be joining the Think Tank as student fellows this academic year.

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green news is good news

Read below for all the good green news that’s fit to print!

  • Congratulations to University Professor Antonio Machado Allison, who recently published Alto Orinocoa new volume of the Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales (ACFIMAN) collection.
  • Rosemary Ostfeld recently received a USDA award for her PlanEat startup. Read more at News@Wes!
  • Helen Poulos is featured in a USGS “Eyes on Earth” podcast where she discusses wildfires and her remote sensing research data from ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS). Poulos and her collaborators studied the Arizona Pine Oak forest five years after a severe fire and learned that post-fire landscape had surprisingly high rates of water use.
  • Congrats to Helen Poulos and her co-authors of three new published papers, including one with Michael Freiburger ’21:  Poulos, H. M., Freiburger, M. R., Barton, A. M., & Taylor, A. H. (2021). Mixed-Severity Wildfire as a Driver of Vegetation Change in an Arizona Madrean Sky Island System, USA. Fire4(4), 78; Briggs, M. K., Poulos, H. M., Renfrow, J., Ochoa‐Espinoza, J., Larson, D., Manning, P., … & Crawford, K. (2021). Choked out: Battling invasive giant cane along the Rio Grande/Bravo BorderlandsRiver Research and Applications; and Barton, A. M., & Poulos, H. (2021). Wildfire and topography drive woody plant diversity in a Sky Island mountain range in the Southwest USA. Ecology and Evolution001– 18.
  • Helen Poulos’s NASA-funded research on the 2011 Horseshoe II Fire in Arizona was highlighted on AZ Central. “In the face of increasing wildfire frequency, size and magnitude — due to both fire suppression and climate change — one of the key things we want to understand is how plants recover from fire, specifically high-severity wildfires,” said Poulos, a professor of environmental studies at Wesleyan University and the principal investigator of the study. “Understanding how plants use water is a really important step in understanding ecosystem recovery after a fire.” Read all about it @ NASA-Funded Study Uses International Space Station to Predict Wildfire Effects. 
  • Congrats to our class of 2021 honors or high honors in environmental studies recipients: Sanya Bery (honors), Rebecca Lopez-Anido (high honors), Gabe Snashall (high honors), and Isabella Whiting (high honors)!
  • Awardees have been announced for the 2021 Robert Schumann Distinguished Student Award. Established in 2007 by a gift from the Robert Schumann Foundation, the prize is awarded to an outstanding student or students who demonstrates academic accomplishment and excellence in environmental stewardship through work at Wesleyan or the greater Middletown community. This year’s honorees: Franny Lin, for her work at Long Lane Farm, and Cat Xi, for her work with the Sustainability Office and with the town of Middletown.
  • Helen Poulos recently published a paper on Arizona wildfires. Read more about the project in this News@Wes article! 
  • Congrats to the newest members of Wesleyan’s Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa: Lizzie Edwards (ENVS & ANTH), Cat Xi (CSS, ENVS), Franny Lin (ENVS, E&ES),  Maggie O’Hanlon (ENVS, GOVT) & Cameron Scharff (ENVS, PHIL)!

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wesleyan-related ukraine events, support and coverage

The College of the Environment stands with the people of Ukraine. Below are links to Wesleyan-related Ukraine events, support and coverage:

ukraine reports: thank you from student panelist (3/4/22)

By Roman Stasiuk
4th year student, bachelor  program „Ethics-Politics-Economics“, Ukrainian Catholic University, Lviv
Student panelist for our Feb 25th event.

I am very grateful to you for the opportunity to tell about the situation in Ukraine for your students!  It is difficult for me to express my admiration for the Ukrainian people at this difficult time. Ukrainians are experiencing an indescribable moment of unity.  Everyone is trying to help as much as they can.

I am working on a media project with UCU students: Frontier in Ukraine (on Instagram) and I am also volunteering at Plast, Ivano-Frankivsk (National Scout Organization).

I also ask you to share UCU statements on the situation in Ukraine with your friends and university, if possible, through Ukrainian Catholic University (on Facebook).

ukraine reports: a kind of refugee (3/2/22)

By Larissa Babij
Reporting from Lviv

I am writing this from the corridor as the air raid siren wails for the third time today. Luckily, although we hear sirens every day, the city of Lviv has not been hit by bombs or shelling (so far).

You’re receiving this letter because we’ve been in touch in the past week and I want to share some moments and thoughts from my new life as a “kind of” refugee in Lviv: at once safe from the barbaric destruction of Ukraine’s other cities and torn from the fabric of my former life in Kyiv, which now belongs to the past.

I fled the city I consider home the day Russia sent cruise missiles to targets all over Ukraine, the day I was awakened by a phone call at 5 am from a friend asking, Did you hear the explosions? No, I didn’t. And even after my ears heard the next ones, my stubborn mind refused to believe that the area around my fragile little beloved apartment was being exploded by rockets that had flown through the air from neighboring Russia.My friends and I (a motley group of 3 cats and 5 people) got into a car that afternoon and headed west. It took us two days to reach Lviv. Other friends took a principled stance to stay (especially those who had to abandon their homes in Donetsk 8 years ago — finding themselves in Ukraine and having found Ukraine in themselves, now they are not budging).Tonight will be my fourth night sleeping in the same place. It’s been great for my cat Telepatia, although every day she walks up to the door meowing with urgency, as if beyond that door she would find her old home. She is also constantly trying to jump / crawl / climb UP. Do cats have a sense of vertical equilibrium by which they feel their distance from the ground at all times? We used to live on the 7th floor, but now we are on the third.I’ve joined a band of local volunteers (including old friends-colleagues from Lviv and some plucky recent arrivals) that is helping to organize the shipment and delivery of medical supplies from abroad to those who need it most in Ukraine, providing regular news updates for friends and journalists from around the world, and supporting recently arrived refugees, whether they are staying or moving further west toward Europe. I also now have seven pairs of underwear!Countless friends, including artist colleagues I have not spoken to in years, have invited me to Bialystok, Lodz, Berlin, and even offered to drive to the Ukrainian border to pick me up. Thank you, friends, I do not want to leave Ukraine. This quandary between fleeing and standing — I’ve somehow managed to do both — is something I want to think through and, if you don’t mind, share with you.The decision to flee for protection or to stand your ground where you are is the primary existential question of the moment. The next question — addressed to any and all who stay — is what are you standing for? If in peacetime staying put can be a passive “choice,” then war turns it into an act.Today my heart is most with those still living in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol, and with the Ukrainian Armed Forces and newly formed territorial defense battalions who are on the ground defending our cities and infrastructure from this unconscionable Russian brutality.Glory to Ukraine! Death to the enemies!PS If you wish to donate funds to support these courageous fighters with necessary equipment and other supplies, I recommendCome Back Alive: Helping Ukrainian army with gear, coordination, trainings, psychological help. Working since 2014. https://savelife.in.ua/en/donate/