Please join us for a presentation on an innovative network analysis of how communication networks influence the design and delivery of fire research. Presented by Vita Wright (Fire Science Application Specialist, RMRS/NPS), Andrea Thode (Professor, NAU), Megan Matoni (Graduate Student, Colorado State University), Jacklynn Fallon (Graduate Student, NAU), and Anne Mottek Lucas (Mottek Consulting). Please register by 9/26/2012.
Recent studies of the federal fire management community suggest managers access research via informal communication networks, and that these networks vary by both agency and position. Sponsored by the Joint Fire Science Program's knowledge exchange network, we used a phone survey to understand the informal science communication networks of fire professionals in in two western regions of the United States (Northern Rockies and Southwest). In these regions, we sampled federal and tribal decision makers, fire management officers, fire ecologists, and fuels specialists to determine: 1) who they go to for scientific information about fuels or fire effects science, 2) why they go to these individuals, and 3) how they communicate with these individuals. Informal science communication networks varied by both professional position and information type (fuels vs. fire effects), with fuels specialists being universally important informants about science. For fire effects information, natural resource specialists, fire ecologists, and researchers were also important. Overall, fire and fuels managers tended to communicate within their own agencies but across work units. However, fire ecologists tended to go outside their agency and communicate with researchers more than other positions. Of five reasons for contacting informants (position, personal history, topical expertise, local knowledge, accessibility), professional position was the most important. Fire science communicators can use such information about informal fire science communication networks to design points of entry for more strategic and efficient dissemination of innovations in fire and fuels science. In contrast to a broadcast approach to science communication, a more strategic approach based on understanding the characteristics of fire science communication networks is expected to shorten time lags to diffusion.