Stella Cousins

Research Scientist


Ph.D., 2016. University of California Berkeley, Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

Master of Forest Science, 2010. Yale University, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Bachelor of Science, 2004. Stanford University, Department of Biological Sciences

(734) 647-5047
Dana 4032


Dr. Stella Cousins is an ecosystem ecologist interested in understanding how and why forests change. She uses patterns measured in trees and forests such as growth, mortality, and community dynamics to reveal how ecosystems respond to human demands and disturbances. Her current research focuses on the drivers of tree mortality in California forests and the transformations that can be expected in ecosystems that experience rapid change. In earlier research she has examined forest carbon processes, air pollution impacts to montane forests, provision of watershed services, and the management of vegetated cultural landscapes. Her work leverages comprehensive surveys conducted by the USFS Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program, long-term monitoring, and measurements ranging from individual tree rings to whole forest structures. Dr. Cousins is broadly interested in how landscapes can be sustainably managed for multiple benefits, which often involves collaborating on multi-disciplinary teams and investing in place-based data collection. She is especially interested in social-environmental problems facing the Western United States. Prior to joining SEAS, Dr. Cousins was an Assistant Professor at California Polytechnic State University and a postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley. She completed her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley and was a graduate fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC). 

Select publications: 
  • Wallen, K., Filbee-Dexter, K., Pittman, J., Posner, S., Alexander, S., Romulo, C., Bennett, D., Clark, E., Cousins, S., Dubik, B., Garcia, M., Haig, H., Koebele, E., Qiu, J., Richards, R., Symons, C., and Zipper, S. 2019. Integrating team science into interdisciplinary graduate education: an exploration of the SESYNC Graduate Pursuit. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 20 March 2019.
  • Romulo, C. R., Posner, S., Cousins, S., Fair, J., Bennett, D., Huber-Stearns, H., Richards, R. and McDonald, R. R. Global State and Potential Scope of Investments in Watershed Services for Large Cities. 2018. Nature Communications 9, 4375.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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