Lab Members


Dr. Helen Poulos

Distinguished Professor of the College of the Environment and Environmental Studies

Link to Curriculum Vitae
Google Scholar Page
Phone: (860)685-4205

Jenna Otaola (BA/MA)

Jenna studies topographic, hydrological, and climatic drivers of fire severity in southwestern North America. She is employing the random forest data mining algorithm, GIS, and remotely sensed imagery to build models to identify environmental factors influencing fire behavior over the 2019-2020 fire seasons in Arizona, USA. 

Undergraduate Students

Charlotte Zapletal

Charlotte is a sophomore Earth and Environmental Sciences major and Data Analysis minor. She is also a shining star of Wesleyan’s Lacrosse team. Charlotte is evaluating the utility of ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on the International Space Station (ECOSTRESS) land surface temperature data for examining how adaptive forest management bolsters forest drought resilience in the Stanislaus-Tuolomne National Forest in the Sierra Nevada range in California.

William Wallentine

Will is a senior Earth and Environmental Sciences major with a passion for forests. He works with ECOSTRESS evapotranspiration data for examining how adaptive forest management bolsters forest drought resilience in the Stanislaus-Tuolomne National Forest in the Sierra Nevada range in California.


Phoebe Snyder

Phoebe is an Environmental Studies and Government major, and co-captian of the Wesleyan women’s swim team. Phoebe studies the effects of forest management and wildfire on northern Arizona ponderosa pine forests using GIS and remotely sensed imagery.  

Jordan Green

Jordan is an Environmental Studies and Psychology major. Tree mortality is on the rise in the Northeast due to increased invasive forest pathogens, more frequent and more intense storms, and an aging urban forest. Small-scale tree nurseries are forming in response to the need for locally-grown street trees, but we know little about how these entities came to be or who operates them. Through narrative interviews and text mining, Jordan is characterizing the demographics, motivations, structures, production, and funding streams of a suite of recently-formed small-scale urban tree initiatives here in New England.

Paul Kraut

Paul is a junior Environmental Studies and Biology major with a minor in Chemistry. Paul studies the impacts of invasive species on food webs and forest dynamics in Connecticut. His undergraduate thesis project focuses on identifying spread the vectors of beech leaf disease, a new invasive nematode (Litylenchus crenatae mccannii), which is now spreading rapidly into Connecticut’s beech forests. 

Lila Luthy

Lila is a senior Environmental Studies and English major. In collaboration with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, she studies the impacts of recent emerald ash borer wasp parasitoid biocontrol releases on the survival and regeneration of white and green ash populations throughout Connecticut. 

Recent Graduates

Becky Velie

Becky has a long-standing passion for the lake systems of her home in New Hampshire. For her undergraduate thesis, Beckey surveyed New Hampshire lake users and interviewed lake managers to identify the key issues surrounding aquatic invasive species management and assess public awareness of invasive species and eradication efforts to curb their spread at three lakes in New Hampshire.

Ally Detre

At Wesleyan, Ally worked with Rio Bravo Restoration and restoration ecologists at Big Bend National park to quantify riparian plant community trends along hundreds of miles the Rio Grande/Río Bravo. Landscape scale assessments of plant community composition and diversity are paramount evaluating changes in the integrity of dryland riparian systems. Through this research, Ally and our conservation partners established a rapid assessments protocol for long-term, landscape-scale riparian vegetation monitoring. Ally will begin a master’s degree in Geosciences at Colorado State University in Fall 2023 to work on a project that validates the NASA SnowEX satellite.

Gabriel Snashall

Gabe studies palm oil contract farming in Indonesia. His research examines the role transnational palm oil corporations in regulating smallholder assets in the Indonesian palm oil industry. Since graduating from Wesleyan, Gabe completed a master’s degree at the Yale School of the Environment, and he continues to work on palm oil and Indonesian forests since graduating.

Michael Freiburger

After graduating from Wesleyan, Michael completed a master’s degree at the Yale School of the Environment, and he now works at the Urban Resources Institute in New Haven, CT. Michael studies forest stand dynamics and silviculture. As an undergraduate thesis student, Michael quantified fire-induced changes in plant community composition in response to the 2011 Horseshoe Two Fire in the Chiricahua Mountains in Arizona.

Yuke Kirana

Yuke joined the World Resources Institute and the Systems Change Lab in 2021 after graduating from Wesleyan. Yuke is a Data Analyst with the Systems Change Lab, where she supports the collection, processing, analysis, and data sharing partnerships of key stakeholders of SCL’s monitoring platform. Yuke’s work centers on capturing and understanding critical progress of global major economic systems in order to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and shift to nature-positive development. At Wesleyan, she used VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Infraradiometer Suite) and ECOSTRESS data to study the impacts of land use and landscape water stress on fire behavior in Indonesia over the 2019-2020 fire seasons.

Miles Brooks

Miles is currently a forestry technician at the Feather River Resource Conservation District in northern California. Miles has loved bees all his life. At Wesleyan, he did a pollinator study of a large natural area near his home in the San Francisco Bay area, San Bruno Mountain. Miles performed detailed field surveys and network analyses to quantify plant-pollinator interactions in one of the last contiguous pollinator habitats on the Peninsula.  

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