Research impact: Dr Helen Wheeler

Helen Wheeler

Our research and innovation work makes a transformative difference in our region, but also nationally and internationally. Working at an international level is Dr Helen Wheeler and her team, who are monitoring the impact of climate change on both animal and human populations.

Understanding climate and environmental change

Dr Helen Wheeler is an Associate Professor in our School of Life Sciences. She joined ARU in 2018, after conducting postdoctoral research in Norway, Canada, France and Denmark.

Helen's research sits at the interface of the social and ecological sciences. It examines how climate and environmental change affects wildlife, and the impact of changing wildlife population on nature and people. This includes specialisms in wildlife change in the Arctic and alpine environments, and rewilding.

A key aspect of Helen's work concerns justice and equity in research and decision-making processes in socio-ecological systems. Accordingly, her research is increasingly coproduced with Indigenous peoples.

Wildlife change in the Arctic

Currently, Helen is Principal Investigator on the BARIN project (Beavers and Socio-ecological Resilience in Inuit Nunangat) as part of the Canada Inuit Nunangat UK Programme. The project examines how the northward expansion of beavers is impacting nature and people, and is funded by UKRI and the International Arctic Science Council.

Helen and her team work in close collaboration with Indigenous Inuvialuit organisations and community members. You can read more and see fieldwork photos on the Wildlife Change in the Arctic project page.

Publications and research supervision

Helen's work has been covered by Times Higher Education, New Scientist, CBC (Canada), NPR (USA), BBC World Service and the Guardian as well as local news and radio in the UK, Canada and Australia. She is a lead author on the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Transformative Change Assessment, and has been researching Indigenous peoples’ visions and perceptions of transformative change in support of this work.

At ARU, Helen is currently lead supervisor to three PhD students and lead advisor to two postdoctoral researchers. She also teaches students at undergraduate level.

Read more about research at ARU

In May 2022 the impact of our research was recognised in the Research Excellence Framework, with every subject area having research rated as ‘world-leading’. This best-ever outcome for ARU followed the award of The Queen’s Anniversary Prize, which acknowledged the globally important work of our Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research.