Spring 2019 New Faculty Spotlights
Assistant Professor Nicholas Babin
By Elle Harlow and Olivia Wiemann
The Natural Resources Management and Enviornmental Sciences (NRES) Department welcomed Assisant Professor Nicholas Babin in fall 2018.
Babin earned a doctorate in environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz, where he focused on coffee agroforestry. After earning his doctorate, he spent time at Purdue University investigating the obstacles and opportunities for adopting the best agricultural management practices in the U.S.
Originally from Northern California, Babin enjoys snowboarding, hiking, reading, cooking, surfing and gardening. He is excited to teach in the public university system, having previously taught at Sierra Nevada College, a small private university near Lake Tahoe in Nevada. He is also excited to be working in the College
of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences because many of his interests lie in agroecology and sustainable agriculture.
Babin teaches NR 306: Natural Resource Ecology, NR 324: Social Dimensions of Sustainable Food and Fiber Systems, NR142: Environmental Management, and NR 323: Human Dimensions in Natural Resource Management. He has proposed a new agroecology course that he will teach in fall 2019 at the student experimental farm. The course will focus on ecological concepts and principles in the context of agricultural systems. He is also working to establish a program in which Cal Poly students can travel to Costa Rica and stay with farm families while learning about the challenges and opportunities faced by small-scale coffee producers.
The NRES Department looks forward to seeing the impacts of Babin’s work and new programs at Cal Poly.
Assistant Professor Stella Cousins
By Anthony Schmitt
Assistant Professor Stella Cousins joined the Natural Resources Management and Enviornmental Sciences (NRES) Department in fall 2019, bringing an extensive scientific background to the Cal Poly community. As an ecosystem ecologist, Cousins is interested in understanding how and why forests change. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Stanford University, master’s degree in forest science from Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and doctorate in environmental science, policy and management from UC Berkeley, Cousins has established herself in the field of forest ecology, particularly in Californian forests. Her research focuses on using forest dynamics, ecological processes, and demographic data to analyze patterns across time so that individuals can develop a better understanding of how and why forests are changing. She believes that examining forest processes provides an interesting framework for studying ecosystem functions. Students build an understanding of how ecosystems change by relating their preexisting knowledge of botany and dendrology. Studying tree growth and decline—especially as viewed using tree rings—gives students a way to explore how the environment has changed through time and how the flora and fauna of forests are affected by those changes. Cousins hopes that a better understanding of these topics will lead students to further grasp the implications of long-term fire suppression and global warming. Cousins enjoys hiking, reading and playing ultimate frisbee. She said she is excited to engage in hands-on learning with students in beautiful San Luis Obispo.
For more stories, read the rest of our Spring 2019 Newsletter