The Scholarship Application Period is now open, the deadline to apply is March 31, 2024. 

You must be an IAWF member to apply.  If you are not currently a member, you can join today. 

Click here for more information and to apply

In an effort to continue to promote the scholarly pursuits and graduate level training within the global wildland fire community, in 2022 the International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) will again be awarding two graduate-level scholarships, each valued at $3,000USD to IAWF members who are Master of Science/Arts (MSc/MA) or Doctoral (PhD) students studying wildland fire or wildland fire related topics.

We encourage applications from students studying any aspect of wildland fire be it from the perspective of physical, ecological or social science to less traditional subject areas as well: we are looking through this scholarship to recognize and support any type of research relevant to the global wildland fire community.

Scholarships will be awarded to the top MSc and top PhD applicants based the student’s submitted essay. Please see the guidelines and application information for details.

The International Association of Wildland Fire (IAWF) awards two graduate-level scholarships typically valued at $3,000 USD to Master of Science (M.Sc.) or Ph.D. students studying wildland fire or wildland fire-related topics. Student submitted essays are evaluated by an international panel of fire science experts and one award recipient is chosen for the Masters level and one for the Doctoral level. The IAWF has been presenting this award annually to members of the fire science community since 2007.

2023 IAWF Scholarship Recipients

We are pleased to share the 2023 scholarships recipients

Elise Brown-Dussault - 2023 MSc scholarship recipientElise Brown-Dussault, MSc Student in Integrative Biology, Wilfrid Laurier University

Elise was introduced to boreal burns in 2019, when she took her first field job assisting a master’s student on the Chilcotin Plateau in Central British Columbia. After her first soot-coated summer, she found her interests continuing to gravitate towards boreal wildfires and forest dynamics. As a resident of Canada’s Yukon Territory, she sees first-hand the complex socioenvironmental effects of wildfire in the north. She started a master’s with the Forest Ecology Research Group at Wilfrid Laurier University in 2022, hoping to contribute to climate change resilience in the northern boreal. Her research looks at caribou lichen transplantation as a method of accelerating caribou winter habitat regeneration, specifically seeking ideal transplant conditions for caribou lichen in boreal burns. She conducts research on the lands of Ka’a’gee Tu, Deh Gah Got’ie First Nations, and Tłı̨chǫ nation in the Northwest Territories.


Stella Mosher - 2023 PhD Scholarship RecipientStella Mosher, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Geography, University of Utah

Stella received her BS in Natural Sciences, with an emphasis in Geology from the University of Puget Sound, and her MS in Geology from the University of Cincinnati, before choosing to pursue paleoecology and paleofire research for her Ph.D. She has a deep interest in understanding how climate and people have modified Earth systems, and specifically how changes in fire activity have shaped (and continue to shape) our landscapes and communities.

Stella’s current research is focused on reconstructing fire histories over millennia in South Africa’s highly biodiverse and fire-adapted Fynbos Biome. She is particularly interested in understanding how this ecosystem has evolved due to climate and anthropogenic changes, including the onset of pastoralism in the Fynbos ~2,000 years ago, and subsequent landscape transformations through fire suppression since ~1650 CE. She is reconstructing fire histories at ~2-year intervals over the past 4,200 years to better understand these climate-vegetation-fire-human linkages and hopes that her research will provide a paleoecological context for understanding how climate and people have influenced fire in the Fynbos.

2022 IAWF Scholarship Recipients

We are pleased to share the 2022 scholarships recipients. We had a tie for the PhD applicants so we awarded an additional scholarship this year.

Sam Ebright
Master of Science, Forestry
Northern Arizona University

Sam Ebright has worked in fire ecology and management as a student, wildland firefighter, and researcher since 2014. He graduated from Northern Arizona University (NAU) in 2018 with a B.S. Forestry and B.A. Modern Languages (Spanish), returning to NAU for a M.Sc. Forestry in 2021. As an undergraduate he was funded by NASA to study high-severity fire impacts to aspen regeneration with remote sensing and assisted international field research in Argentinean Patagonia. With the forest ecology lab, he also had the opportunity to work with the Navajo Nation and Mescalero Apache Tribe to study historic fire regimes and culturally sensitive resources. After college he worked four seasons as a USFS wildland firefighter, with two seasons on the Flagstaff Interagency Hotshot Crew. Sam’s thesis continues his remote sensing work by exploring spatiotemporal relationships of fire and forest cover change in his father’s homeland of Vietnam. His specialties and interests are fire ecology, remote-sensing, dendrochronology, and international conservation. Sam now works in the US Forest Service, Washington Office; one step closer to a lifelong career in international conservation and fire ecology.

Simin Rahmani
PhD of Environmental Science
Western Sydney University

Simin is a PhD student in the field of fire ecology in Western Sydney University (WSU). She received her Master of Environmental Biology from University of Wollongong (UOW) in 2018. She studied the pollution level from bushfire smoke plumes. She started working as a research assistant in UOW and Western Sydney University where she collected field data, did laboratory works and statistical analysis to examine effects of drought and fire on forest mortality and recovery. After that, she started my PhD and my research focuses on drought and fire integration and their effect on tree mortality and recruitment.



Matt Ruggirello
Doctoral program in agricutlural and forest sciences
National University of La Plata (Universidad Nacional de la Plata), Argentina

Originally from Chicago, Matt has spent much of his adult life living in the western U.S and Argentina. He graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2017 with a master’s degree in forestry. While in Flagstaff, Arizona, he spent a summer on a seasonal conservation crew, hand-felling conifers to release aspen and reduce fire risk for The Nature Conservancy.  After graduating, he worked for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) as a forester. In the latter job, he oversaw every element of multiple restoration timber sales aimed at reducing fire risk and improving forest health around local communities. Matt also had the opportunity to work with prescribed fire crews and regularly burn slash piles during that time. His personal and professional experiences in the western U.S. introduced him to fire and ever since he has been fascinated by its power to drive ecosystem change. When the opportunity arose to study post-fire tree regeneration dynamics in his wife’s hometown of Ushuaia, in southern Argentina, he jumped at the opportunity. Matt currently lives in Ushuaia where he is raising his newborn son, Luca, while he pursues his doctorate in forestry. After completing his PhD, he hopes to become the first permanent researcher in the region to focus exclusively on the impacts of wildfire on native forests. Matt is very grateful for IAWF’s support of his PhD work and is thankful to be engaged with the international wildfire community through IAWF.

2021 IAWF Scholarship Recipients

Emma Sherwood, Masters student, Earth and Environmental Sciences, McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario)

Emma Sherwood - 2021 IAWF Student Scholarship Recipients MSc

Emma received her BSc in Geographical Sciences from the University of British Columbia in 2020. Through her undergraduate degree, she worked on various GIS and fieldwork projects including looking at the impacts of climate change on bird diversity in northern Saskatchewan, caribou habitat disturbance in BC, and Horned Lark ecology in the southern Alberta prairies. Fire impacts on the landscape were present on all these projects, and Emma is excited to be able to focus her Masters thesis on wildfire in Northern Ontario. Her research involves mapping peat vulnerability to smouldering using remote sensing and machine learning. The project leverages known relationships between smouldering vulnerability and peat properties, and the mapping methodology will be verified against the Parry Sound 33 fire at the study site. In addition to the new methodology, Emma’s project will investigate spatial patterns in peat properties and peat smouldering vulnerability from an ecohydrological perspective.



Joseph Novak, PhD Student, University of California, Santa Cruz

Joseph Novak (23) from Raleigh, North Carolina, entered college skeptical of climate change. An introductory Biology course convinced Joseph that climate change is a serious threat to the planet and society. After a change of heart and major, Joseph graduated Brown University with a B.S. in Geology Biology in May 2020. Now, Joseph is pursuing a PhD in Ocean Sciences from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he studies molecular fossils in lake and ocean sediments to understand relationships between fire regimes, climate, and vegetation in Earth’s distant past. The IAWF PhD Fellowship will support Joseph’s study of fire proxies in sediments from Lake Baikal, Russia, where he seeks to understand the relationship between combustion products preserved on the lake bottom and historical wildfire records. This study is the first step in a larger project that will integrate 8.4 million years of climate, fire, and vegetation data preserved in Lake Baikal’s sediments, which Joseph hopes will prove to be foundational datasets for understanding the relationship between fire and climate state in boreal forests. Joseph humbly thanks the IAWF for their support of his work.


2020 IAWF Scholarship Recipients

Mary Armstrong, MSc Student , University of Florida
As a master’s student at the University of Florida in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation, Mary is writing her thesis on the effects of season of prescribed fire on reproductive characteristics of several species in the Asteraceae and Poaceae families. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Eckerd College, she began her career in prescribed fire with The Nature Conservancy in southeast Georgia. Since then, she has worked on prescribed fire crews with The Department of Natural Resources in Georgia, Lake Travis Fire Rescue in Texas, and Wildland Restoration International in Florida. She has also worked wildfire suppression on an engine and helicopter crew in Helena, Montana.  After four years of field work, she decided to continue her education at the University of Florida to expand her knowledge of ecosystems and prescribed fire, and to write a thesis that could assist land managers in their decision making. In her fire career, she learned that land managers across all four states have many similar research questions. Her goal is to conduct research to help answer these questions, beginning with timing of fire and its effects on the reproduction of groundcover plants.




Robert Scott, PhD Student, Sociology, University of Colorado Boulder
Robert received a BS in Sociology from Westminster College (Salt Lake City, UT) and an MA in Sociology from the University of Victoria (Victoria, BC). He is a PhD student in Sociology at the University of Colorado and has worked in various fire management positions (Type 1 Crew Member, Type 1 Crew Leader, Provincial Training Officer) for the Government of Saskatchewan.

For his doctoral research, Robert uses historical and interview methods to investigate how single- and multiple-fatality incidents involving firefighters affect the construction of self among other firefighters. The research includes a comparative analysis of Canadian and American firefighter fatalities that occurred in a 30-year period. Robert is especially interested in how firefighter fatalities influence who firefighters become in terms of their subsequent experiences and perceptions of risk. He anticipates his research will have significant value for the wildland fire community as well as occupations involving risk.

Scholarship Recipients in 2019

Sam HillmanSamuel Hillman, PhD Candidate, RMIT University, Australia
Sam is completing his PhD with the Remote Sensing Centre at RMIT University. Having always had a passion for the outdoors, Sam’s graduated with a Bachelor of Environments from the University of Melbourne and a Masters of Geospatial Science from RMIT University before taking up a graduate position with Forest Fire Management Victoria. In conjunction with summer forest firefighting roles, Sam’s work at FFMVic focuses on managing the collection of fuel hazard information across the state. Seeing a growing need to invest in new technologies for efficient collected of fuel hazard data, Sam returned to study to further study while continuing his role with FFMVic part-time.

Sam’s PhD project explores the use of innovative methods for estimating below canopy forest structure for fuel hazard assessments. More specifically, the research investigates the utility of image based and LiDAR point clouds derived from terrestrial and airborne sources to describe the cover, height and structure of below canopy vegetation.

Sam enjoys working with fire scientists and practitioners across Australia to improve the utility of this research. He is currently based in North America collaborating with research partners at the Rocky Mountain Research Station in Missoula, Montana and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver to test these technologies outside of Australia forest systems. Sam is passionate about connecting innovative research to operations and believes that transitioning to a 3D paradigm will allow the accurate quantification and characterisation of fuel leading to improved operational and ecological decision making.

Megan Rennie, Master of Science, Atmospheric Sciences, University of Nevada, Reno
Megan completed her bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric Sciences with a minor in Mathematics in 2018 at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is working on her Masters in the Atmospheric Sciences program with a certification in Renewable Energy from the College of Engineering. Megan has always had an interest in aerosols and their interactions with the atmosphere. Megan presently works as a graduate research assistant in the Division of Atmospheric Sciences at the Desert Research Institute where she performs open combustion in the laboratory measuring the chemical and optical properties from the aerosols that are emitted. She is studying the biomass burning emissions from the invasive species of the U.S. Intermountain West where more frequent wildland fires are changing the landscape ecology.

Scholarship recipients in 2018

Joanne Kingsbury, PhD Environmental Science, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA Jo Kingsbury is a PhD student in the Environmental Science Graduate Program at The Ohio State University and is based within the School of Environment and Natural Resources. She is originally from the Isle of Arran in Scotland and completed her BSc Honors degree in Zoology at the University of Glasgow in 2011. While studying for her undergraduate degree, she spent her summers leading student expeditions to Latin America where she fell in love with tropical ecology and birds. After graduating, she worked for four years with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) as a project officer in landscape-scale conservation. Her current research focuses on understanding how fire shapes habitat for globally threatened birds within Bolivia’s Beni Savanna Ecoregion, one of the earths most remote and threatened savanna systems. The Beni is critically understudied compared to other savanna systems globally and currently its habitats and biodiversity are experiencing extreme pressure from altered fire regimes associated with widespread cattle-ranching. Rangeland fire-management has altered historic wildfire patterns, changing the frequency, seasonality, extent and severity of fire-events. Understanding the fire ecology of this region will be vital to the future conservation of its habitats and species. She is working collaboratively with the local Bolivian Birdlife International partner Association Civil Armonia who own and manage protected land within the Beni. They have implemented multiple experimental burns to study how fire interacts with flooding and grazing to shape avian habitat (vegetation structure/composition) and resources (food/nest sites). Results will be used to build a predictive model to test how fire can be used to protect bird communities. Her work thus aims to develop more sustainable fire-management regimes and predictive tools for land managers that will help to balance agricultural and conservation priorities within this region and more widely within Latin America. Lauren Folk, Masters of Applied Science in Civil Engineering, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Read Lauren’s Thesis Abstract

Lauren is a pursuing her Master of Applied Science in civil engineering at York University in Toronto, Canada. Previously, she studied at Carleton University where she completed her bachelor’s in Architectural Conservation and Sustainability Engineering in 2017. Lauren has long been passionate about sustainable development and finding ways to help improve the lives of others. She has been conducting research on human behaviour in fire (HBiF) since her junior year, transitioning her research focus from long term care home evacuations during her undergraduate degree to community resilience and wildland urban interface (WUI) evacuations for her master’s thesis. She spent three months interning at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2017, researching the factors affecting protective action decision making during wildfires and hurricanes. Lauren is now collaborating with community partners to improve the safety of evacuation routes for vulnerable Canadian WUI communities by incorporating HBiF into evacuation modelling and planning. She hopes that her research will help to improve wildfire safety in WUI communities and to further the study of HBiF in North America.

Scholarship recipients in 2017

Paulina Llamas-Casillas, PhD student, Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington Paulina Llamas-Casillas is a Ph.D. student from Mexico in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington. Her research focuses on using different proxies to reconstruct multiple fire regime parameters, with the aim of understanding how humans and climatic anomalies influence fire regime at different spatio-temporal scales in the tropics and temperate forests. Paulina worked as research assistant and instructor of fire ecology and management at the University of Guadalajara before starting her doctoral studies in Seattle. Paulina enjoys being a teaching assistant and mentoring students at the University of Washington. In the future, Paulina wants to use her professional and academic experience to create international networks for fire ecology studies.

Marshall Stageberg, Master of Science, Geography, Michigan State University

Marshall received his Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology from  St. Cloud State University with minors in GIS and Computing in 2016.   He is now pursuing a Masters of Science degree in Geography at Michigan State University. He is working with collaborators at the USDA Forest Service, St. Cloud State University, and Michigan State University to investigate the complex flows that occur in the vicinity of a wildland fire, flows that are primarily driven by heat and moisture released from the fire. Since extreme conditions in the fire environment make collecting meteorological observations difficult, we employ a high-resolution numerical model to simulate the atmospheric responses to a fire. The numerical simulations will determine the sensitivity of fire-induced flows to the magnitude of the heat and moisture fluxes from the fire, and to atmospheric stability, moisture, and wind profiles. The results from this project will help us to better understand the sensitivity of the fire inflow/outflow patterns and the atmospheric perturbations to the characteristics of the fires.  The simulations, when combined with available observations, will enable us to diagnose fire-atmosphere interactions on scales that will help inform operational decision-making when managing both prescribed fires and wildfires.

Scholarship recipients in 2016

Noémie Gonzalez Bautista, PhD candidate, Université Laval, Québec, Canada

Noémie received her first master’s degree in environmental science in 2005 from the Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine (France). After several years working in environmental education, she returned to university to earn a master’s degree in ecological anthropology from the Museum d’Histoire naturelle de Paris (France) which led her to her present PhD research in anthropology at Université Laval (Québec, Canada). For this project she will be working with the Atikamekw community of Wemotaci in the Nitaskinan territory within the province of Québec, and with the SOPFEU, the provincial forest fire protection agency. The primary objective of her study is to understand and to describe the relationship between these two groups, with a particular emphasis on their respective ways of interacting with wildfires and the territory. In particular, she will be examining the coexistence of SOPFEU’s technical knowledge and know-how and indigenous knowledge and know-how. Noémie hopes that this study will serve as a tool to help SOPFEU and the Atikamekw, as well as other forest fire management agencies and First Nations, to share knowledge, experiences and capacities for better wildfire management and more resilient communities.

Monique Wynecoop, Master of Science, Fire Science Program, College of Natural Resources, University of Idaho

Monique received a dual major in Ecology and Conservation Biology and Fishery Sciences and a minor in American Indian Studies at University of Idaho in 2010. She is now employed as a USFS Fire Ecologist for the Colville National Forest and is pursuing a Masters of Science in the Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences at the University of Idaho. She is Mountain Maidu and her husband and children are Spokane Tribal members. Her research project is inspired by her family and the cultural importance of their ancestral homelands. It is her goal that her children and all of the future generations of local tribes feel that their best interests are addressed in the management of natural resources, on and off the reservation. As a Fire Ecologist, and part of the monitoring committee, she developed her thesis as a collaborative socio-economic and fire effects monitoring project for the Colville National Forest Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP). The project emphasizes cross-cultural collaboration and fire ecology of understory vegetation of the western half of the Colville National Forest. She uses modified monitoring techniques to look at the impacts of wildfire and U.S. Forest Service fuels reduction treatments on understory vegetation while also using a participatory GIS program developed by the Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) to look at the perspectives of the Confederated Colville Tribal community regarding how their cultural practices and livelihoods are being impacted by such treatments. Her research has required constant collaboration and trust-building between all parties involved, and she plans on continuing this monitoring project as part of her Forest Service position to further collaboration and knowledge-sharing between local tribal and non-tribal governments and scientific communities for years to come.

Scholarship recipients in 2015

Billy Haworth (PhD student), University of Sydney, Australia

Billy Haworth is a PhD candidate and tutor in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney. Billy holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Applied Science, specialising in GIS and spatial information science. Before commencing his PhD Billy worked in GIS industry and in research, with notable previous work examiningpatterns of graffiti removal in urban environments. His PhD research is focussed on the role of volunteered geographic information (VGI) in natural disaster management. VGI refers to the widespread voluntary engagement of private citizens in the creation of geographic information, predominantly through social media, smartphones and online mapping tools. VGI represents a shift in the ways geographic information is created, shared, used and experienced. This has important implications for various applications of geospatial data, including disaster management, where the social practice of VGI has potential to transformthe traditional top-down structure of emergency management.Billy’s research is supported by the Bushfire & Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre and examines the potential role of VGI in fostering community engagement in bushfire preparation in Tasmania, where VGI has potential to aid in building risk awareness, community connectedness, and ultimately increased disaster resilience.

Will Olsen, Masters student, Michigan Technological University’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science

Will Olsen is currently a Masters student in Applied Ecology at Michigan Technological University’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. Will’s interest in hydrological processes in forested landscapes lead him to an opportunity for research in  the burned area of the 2013 Rim Fire in California, where in the fall of 2014 salvage logging activity commenced. He is studying the changes that occur from post-fire salvage logging on rill erosionand sediment yields at small and large spatial scales. The goal is to help increase our understanding of the role of salvage logging in burned forests in regards to soils and erosion, in order to improve planning and implementation of salvage activities after wildfires. Will’s research will continue through the summer and winter 2015-2016, and he is excited for the opportunity to continue learning and studying wildfire, salvage logging, and erosion throughout the western US and internationally.

Scholarship recipients in 2014

Miltiadis Athanasiou (PhD student), National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece Miltiadis studied Environmental Science at the University of the Aegean, Lesvos, Greece and has received a M.Sc. Degree in Prevention and Management of Natural Disasters from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. Degree in the same field at the same University. The emphasis in his post-graduate studies is on forest fire management. The title of his Ph.D. dissertation will be “Development of an optimal methodology for forecasting forest fire behavior in Greece”. His work includes data collection on “live” wildfires and relevant analysis. So far, he has produced a number of interim publications documenting wildfires and analyzing fire behavior (fire spread, spotting) in Greece. In parallel with his studies he has compounded a total of seventeen years of experience in environmental management and has built significant experience in forest fire management. His firefighting training and operational experience commenced in 2000, when he started being trained by the Special Units of Disaster Response, Hellenic Fire Corps on a weekly basis until 2003. At the same time he was the Lead Supervisor and Operational Coordinator, of a Natural Disaster Response and Relief Volunteer Team. He has also served with the 6th Fire Department Station of Athens as a Volunteer Firefighter (fire engine crew member). Since 2008, he is officially recognized as Specialized Volunteer Expert by the Hellenic General Secretariat of Civil Protection. In his professional career that runs parallel to his studies, he has undertaken and carried out research projects, studies and operational plans for wildfires management and suppression, cooperating with the Technological Educational Institute of the Ionian Islands, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and with private companies. Since the summer of 2011, he also works in firefighting, as crew member of heavy-lift helicopters in Greece, during each fire season.

Trisha Gabbert, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, USA (MSc student)

Trisha is currently a Masters student in Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and an Air Force veteran.  She is researching biomass burning emissions in the Northern Sub-Saharan African region.  The project utilizes a first ever, gridded smoke-aerosol emissions coefficient (Ce) product developed by NASA’s Fire Energetics and Emissions Research (FEER) team.  The goal is to process satellite measured fire radiative power and use FEER’s Ce product to generate smoke aerosol emissions to be ingested into NASA Unified Weather Research and Forecasting (NU-WRF) model for representation of smoke dynamics and impacts in the African Sahel and surrounding areas.  Trisha was first introduced to smoke emissions research during a summer internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center during her undergraduate studies.  She is very excited to continue learning about the interactions of fire emissions on our climate, weather, and air quality.

Scholarship recipients in 2013

Héctor Leonardo Martínez Torres (PhD Candidate) National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico

Hector studied Agricultural Engineering and then got a Master’s Degree in Botany, where he started his work in Ethnobotany. Later he worked as Technician in several research projects in the Ecosystems Research Center (CIEco) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).  The last two projects in which he got involved in this capacity were related to fire, and he had the opportunity to interact with collaborators from the Mexican Government and Mexican and US Universities.  This experience sparked his curiosity to investigate how people in rural areas of Mexico manage fire as part of their subsistence activities, which clearly could be considered as Ethnoecology. At present he is in the second year of his PhD studies in the Laboratory of Ecology of Forest Managment at CIEco – UNAM. His research focuses on the traditional use and management of fire by indigenous and non-indigenous rural inhabitants in forestry, agriculture and livestock management at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, one of the most emblematic Natural Protected Areas in Mexico.

Elizabeth Schneider (MA Student), University of Tennesse, Knoxville, TN, USA

Elizabeth Schneider is a Masters student in the Department of Geography at the University of Tennessee. Her concentrations are in biogeography, paleoclimatology, and dendrochronology. Elizabeth’s research focuses on low-frequency climate oscillations and their influence on the occurrence of wildfires in the Southwest. Her goal is to increase the knowledge of fire-climate interactions and provide fire managers with in depth information on the changing patterns of wildfire. Elizabeth’s interest in fire and dendrochronology began as a lab assistant at the University of Oregon. She is now a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Tennessee and is working in the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Science.

Scholarship recipients in 2012

Rachel Anne Carter, LaTrobe University (PhD Candidate), Victoria, Australia

Rachel Carter

Rachel Anne Carter is a PhD Candidate and Legal Scholar with La Trobe University located in Bundoora, Victoria, Australia. As part of her PhD, Rachel holds an industry scholarship with the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Rachel’s work is primarily centred on insurance and fire related events. Her research involves an international comparative approach whereby she is currently undertaking an analysis of different systems in Europe, America, Asia and the Australia pacific region. In order to undertake this aspect of her research Rachel spent time as a visiting scholar at the International Institute of Sociology and the Law in Onati, Spain and also in the research offices at the OECD, Paris. At the OECD, Rachel liaised with policy makers, economists and senior officials discussing the different insurance models. Rachel has co-authored a book, published in academic journals and presented at conferences both in Australia and internationally. In 2011 Rachel presented evidence to the Senate in relation to insurance in Australia in the aftermath of the Queensland flooding. Rachel was also involved in the insurance media work in the aftermath of the flooding which resulted in political attention being drawn to the issue and subsequently the issue was cited by various senators. She has also worked with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in reviewing disaster policy. Rachel hopes that her overall findings will better assist in improved individual economic planning for disaster events particularly through the means of insurance.

Dianne Hall, San Jose State University (MSc), Los Gatos, California, USA

Grant Park Burn 2011

Dianne is a Masters student in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at San Jose State University. Her current area of research is to measure and document the interaction between fire and the atmosphere in complex terrain through a series of head fire experiments on slopes. The data set created from the fires will be used by scientists to help understand fire behavior at a micrometeorological scale and thus lead to improvement of fire behavior models. Dianne has worked multiple seasons as a firefighter in California and has been a volunteer fire fighter in her community for more than 12 years. She was drawn into this research by her fascination with fire behavior while studying to be a FBAN.

Scholarship recipients in 2011

Alexis Lewis (Ph. D. student), Oregon State University , Corvallis, OR, USA

Alexis Lewis is a PhD candidate in the Department of Exercise and Sports Science with an emphasis in Sports Psychology at Oregon State University. Alexis’ research revolves around ways to improve human performance through leadership and decision-making in wildland fire through mindfulness and self-compassion interventions. Alexis’ goal is to make her research as practical as possible for fire personnel, while upholding scientific rigor. As such, she has been working closely with fire managers and personnel in developing appropriate and effective strategies for implementation. Alexis has also been a seasonal wildland firefighter for eight seasons throughout different parts of the Western U.S., and will begin her ninth season in June of 2011.

Victoria Pantoja Campa (MA student), Universidad Autónoma Chapingo , Chapingo, Estado de M éxico, Mexico

Victoria Pantoja Campa is a first year masters student in the Division de Ciencias Forestales, Universidad Autonoma Chapingo. She has concentrated on  planning and implementation of the Integrated Fire Management in Mexico, Central and South America. She has been trained in prescribed burning based on community fire management  and fire ecology. In 2006 she was awarded a scholarship by the Fundación Carolina and studied at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain,  Master in Management of Protected Areas. At her professional career has served as Regional Coordinator Fire Management in Southeast Mexico with the Fondo Mexicano para la Conservacion de la Naturaleza, A.C., and The Nature Conservancy. She has applied Fire Ecologist for Latin America with The Global Fire Team of Nature Conservancy; conducted research for Pronaturaleza, Peru; and as a consultant conducted an Analytical Mapping Wildfires in  Maya Forest region with the CATIE (Research & Higher Education Center) – BID (Inter-American Development Bank).

Scholarship recipients in 2010

Carissa Brown  (Ph. D. student), University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Carissa Brown is a Ph.D. candidate in the Northern Plant Ecology Lab in the Department of Biology at the University of Saskatchewan. Carissa investigates how the successional trajectory of black spruce stands may change if they are burned too frequently to produce seed and self-replace, as well as how changes to the fire regime affect carbon dynamics. She conducts her research at the northern range of the boreal forest in the Yukon, a region where summer temperatures have increased over the past several decades, and where fires are predicted to occur more frequently with warming. Update as of June 2012: Carissa is currently a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Mark Vellend at l’Université de Sherbrooke in Sherbrooke, Québec. She is continuing her research on the dynamics of tree species at the limits of their distributions, now on elevational gradients in mountain ecosystems of southern Québec. She is also continuing her Yukon/latitudinal treeline research through collaborations and data syntheses with other arctic researchers.

Brooke Cassell (MA student), University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Brooke Cassell is a second year masters student in the School of Forest Resources, University of Washington. Her research focuses on using dendrochronology to understand the historical range of variability of fire in high elevation pine-oak forests in Mexico. She aims to increase knowledge about fire management in patchy landscapes consisting of fire adapted and fire sensitive ecosystem types. Brooke is also a Teaching Assistant at the University of Washington and is active in the Student Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration, National Forestry Honor’s Society, and is an avid bicyclist.   Update as of June 2012: Brooke recently defended her masters thesis on the Fire History of the Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve in Western México and will be working with the USDA Forest Service as a student tech this summer before starting a PhD program in the fall. She’ll be continuing her studies with the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington.

Scholarship recipients in 2009

Victoria Balfour (Ph.D. student), University of Montana, Missoula, Montana

The Doctorial Scholarship recipient for 2009 is Victoria Balfour of the University of Montana.  Victoria’s research concentrates on the role of wildfire ash in understanding the varied hydrologic response following wildfires. Through unique and innovative methodologies she has aided in defining the term wildfire ash, more specifically with respects to hydrologic characteristics. Victoria has been invited to continue her research internationally by collaborating with leading scientists in Europe (Wales and Spain). During her planned stay in Europe she will be comparing the results from her North America samples with data from Wildfires in Australia and Spain to assess ecosystem differences.  Update as of June 2012: Vicki is in the process of completing her degree, she plans to finish in December, after which she will be doing a post-doc at the University of Montana for a year. She is still studying the effect of ash on post-fire infiltration. Following that she hopes to pursue teaching, mainly geared toward youth.

Kelsey Gibos  (MSc.F. student), University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Masters Scholarship recipient for 2009 is Kelsy Gibos of the University of Toronto.  Working with an industrial partner, Kelsey is investigating the influence of solar radiation on the moisture content and ignitability of fine forest fuels. Because her previous experience involves work with fire agencies across Canada and overseas in Australia and New Zealand, her study provides an important link between academic endeavors and their applications at the fire-ground level.  Update as of June 2012: After finishing her MSc. in Forestry at the University of Toronto, Kelsey obtained a term position assisting with reconstruction of the fire behaviour events of Black Saturday, 7 February 2009, in the state of Victoria, Australia. Following that, she has been assigned the role of ‘bushfire risk analyst’ where she is using fire behaviour science to inform new building and community planning guidelines for this fire prone state. Her time there in Australia has been extremely rewarding; she has learned so much about mass fire behaviour and convective driven fire spread, as well as about hazard and risk at the wildland-urban interface. Her near future leads to assisting with the establishment of a predictive services unit for another state fire authority here in Australia and an eventual triumphant return to Canada to consider furthering her academic career. 

Scholarship recipients in 2008

Kara Marie Yedinak (Ph.D. student), Laboratory of Atmospheric Science, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington

Dissertation Advisor: Dr. Brian Lamb, Regents Professor and Boeing Distinguished Professor of Environmental Engineering Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Washington State University Pullman, WA 99164-2910 The IAWF Scholarship recipient for 2008 is Kara Yedinak of Washington State University in Pullman.  Kara Marie is working toward a Ph.D. in engineering science with the Laboratory of Atmospheric Research (LAR) at Washington State University. LAR is an interdisciplinary graduate program focusing on air quality with an emphasis on interactions between the biosphere and atmosphere. At LAR, Kara is pursuing her interests in understanding the links between fire behavior and the atmosphere to better understand the role and scale of wildland fire in air quality.  Update as of June 2012: Kara is working towards finishing her PhD in Engineering Science at Washington State University. Her work continues on the sensitivity analysis and evaluation of WRF-Fire, a coupled fire-atmosphere model.

Cathelijne Stoof  (Ph.D. student), Wageningen University, The Netherlands

Principal Academic Advisor: Dr. Coen J. Ritsema, Professor in Physical Soil Quality Wageningen University The Netherlands The IAWF Scholarship recipient for 2008 is Cathelijne Stoof of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Cathelijne has been working on soils and hydrology combining field, lab and modeling approaches in the Netherlands and abroad. In her Ph.D. research she uses a multiscale approach to explain post-fire erosion and flooding events by studying the effects of fire on soil water movement. Update as of June 2012: After receiving the IAWF scholarship in 2008 Cathelijne continued her fieldwork in Portugal where she had her 10-ha research catchment burned by experimental fire in 2009 to study fire impact on soil and hydrology. In 2010, she used the IAWF funds to develop a method for evaluating the effects of ash on water movement in soil at the Steenhuis lab at Cornell University (USA) where she works as a post-doc after graduating in 2011. In her current job she studies sustainable management of soil, water and landscapes, from bioenergy and hydrofracking impacts to fire risks and effects.

Scholarship recipients in 2007

Sean T. Michaletz (Ph.D. student), University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada

The IAWF Scholarship recipient for 2007 is Sean T. Michaletz, a Ph.D. student at the University of Calgary in Canada.  Sean has developed models for deciduous and coniferous mortality following low intensity fires, and has also worked with crown scorch models. His PhD. research will concentrate on combining some of his individual tree models into stand and landscape level models.  Update as of June 2012: Sean is currently finishing his PhD thesis “Tree mortality and seed survival in forest fires,” which he will defend in July. He then begin a postdoctoral research position at the University of Arizona, where he will be developing metabolic scaling theory to better predict variation in plant growth, performance, and hydraulics.

Andrew Sullivan (Ph.D. student), Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

The IAWF Scholarship recipient for 2007 is Andrew Sullivan, a Ph.D. student at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.  Andrew has been working on the development of fire spread simulation software, was co-author of a book on grass fire behavior and management, and conducted field experiments in Australian forests. His PhD. research focuses on the role of the competitive thermokinetics of cellulose thermal decomposition and combustion in patterns of bushfire spread.