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Preparing passionate leaders driving change in sustainability and stewardship of the environment.

  —Our Mission

Dr. Stella Cousins

Dr. CousinsDr. Stella Cousins

Phone: (805) 756-2513
Office: 74M-A117

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Dr. Cousins' Areas of Focus

Forest Ecology · Ecosystem Ecology · Natural History · Sustainable Resource Management · Applications of Dendrochronology

About Dr. Stella Cousins

Dr. Cousins is an ecosystem ecologist interested in understanding how and why forests change. She uses patterns of growth and mortality in trees to reveal how ecosystems respond to human demands and disturbances. Her recent research focuses on the causes and consequences of tree mortality in California forests, leveraging comprehensive surveys conducted by the USFS Forest Inventory and Analysis Program. In earlier and ongoing projects she has examined forest carbon dynamics, air pollution impacts in California, watershed services, and the management of vegetated cultural landscapes.

Dr. Cousins enjoys working closely with students in the field and lab, and teaches silviculture, natural resource ecology, forest management, and related courses at Cal Poly. She also collaborates with the team at Swanton Pacific Ranch to bring hands-on field experiences to students. Dr. Cousins welcomes questions from undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing research or practice in all aspects of forest ecology, biology, and management. Stella holds a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from UC Berkeley, a Master of Forest Science from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and a BS in Biological Sciences from Stanford University.

Teaching Quality Rating1Teaching quality rating A+

Student comments about the teacher:


Dr. Cousins is a great addition to the NRES faculty. Her wealth of knowledge and overall enthusiasm made this course exciting and helped myself and others look forward to it every week. The field trips were outstanding and very effective. She often forwards applicable information and job opportunities to the class, which is great.

Dr. Cousins is clearly very passionate about what she is teaching, and succeeds at making the information relevant and interesting. She is professional and approachable. Overall I have been very happy to have her as a professor.

Dr. Cousins goes over class material clearly and material sticks over time. She is very positive and supportive and incredibly knowledgeable of the topic.

Dr. Cousins is really knowledgeable about the subject, enthusiastic, and very approachable and easy to talk to. I think she did a great job for her first quarter teaching.

Dr. Cousins provided assignments that were thorough and comprehensive. The instructor was open to questions and very knowledgeable on all subjects. The interactive teaching styles used for each lab kept me engaged and interested. Complicated subjects were approached clearly. All of the field trips were beneficial and provided new learning opportunities for me.


1 Teaching quality rating is based on student teaching evaluations completed by Cal Poly students. A cumulative grand average for all courses taught over the last two years is calculated from responses to the student evaluation question, "Overall, this instructor was educationally effective" that ranges on a scale from 1=Strongly disagree to 5=Strongly agree.

4.5+ A+
4.0 to 4.5 A
3.5 to 4.0 B
3.0 to 3.5 C
Below 3.0 D

Selected Publications

Romulo, C. R., Posner, S., Cousins, S., Fair, J., Bennett, D., Huber-Stearns, H., Richards, R. and McDonald, R. R. 2018. Global State and Potential Scope of Investments in Watershed Services for Large Cities. In press, Nature Communications (09/2018).

Huber-Stearns, H., Bennett, D., Posner, S., Richards, R., Hoyle, J., Cousins, S., and Romulo, C. 2017. Social-Ecological Enabling Conditions for Environmental Policies: A Review of Current Conversations. Ecology and Society 22: 1:18. DOI: /10.5751/ES-08979-220118

Cousins, S., Battles, J., Sanders, J., and York, R. 2015. Decay patterns and carbon dynamics of standing dead trees in mixed conifer forests. Forest Ecology and Management 353: 136-147. DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2015.05.030

Battles, J., and Cousins, S. University of California Berkeley. 2015. Carbon Dynamics and Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Standing Dead Trees in California Mixed Conifer Forests. California Energy Commission. Publication number: CEC-500-2016-001.

Battles, J. Saah, D., Robards, T., Cousins, S., York, R., and Larson, D., 2013. Intact Forests. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Natural Resource Condition Assessment. Appendix 12 in: Panek, J.A., J.J. Battles, J.T. Austin, C.A. Sydoriak, K.R. Nydick, A.M. Esperanza, D.S. Saah. 2013. A natural resource condition assessment for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Natural Resource Report NPS/SEKI/NRR—2013/665.12. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.

Cousins, S., and DuVal, A. 2012. Management Approaches for Protected Areas of Cultural and Biological significance: the Beech Pollards of Aiako Harria Natural Park. Chapter 5 in: Integrative Protected Area Management: Reconciling conservation, restoration, and recreation objectives in Aiako Harria Natural Park, Northern Spain. Ashton, M., Muruetagoenia, T., and DuVal, A., eds. Nova Publishers, Hauppauge, NY.

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