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Headshot image of Dr. Alistair Smith

Dr. Alistair Smith
IFIRE Director and Associate Professor, University of Idaho

Alistair Smith joined the Department of Forest Resources in 2003 as a postdoctoral research fellow funded by the Upper Midwest Aerospace Consortium (UMAC) to organize and coordinate regional extension of forestry-remote sensing research. As part of this hire, Alistair serves as the National Coordinator for ForestPARC which since 2003 has, working with partners in the USFS has organized three national stakeholder orientated workshops. In 2007 he was appointed Assistant Professor of Forest Measurements at the University of Idaho, where he currently heads the Forest and Rangeland Measurements Lab. Alistair holds a BSc in Physics (Physics - University of Edinburgh), an MSc with Distinction in Imaging and Digital Image Processing (Physics - King's College London, University of London), and a PhD in Remote Sensing (Geography - King's College London, University of London), which focused on quantifying nitrogen and carbon emission from southern African savannah fires through a novel remote sensing analysis approach. Throughout his PhD, Alistair worked in Africa conducting prescribed fires and through his postdoctoral experience at the University of Idaho, continues to analyze fire behavior and fire effects. These days, Alistair’s research can be broadly described at trying to improve the physical linkages between remote sensing and ground measurements to reduce uncertainties in various biogeoscience cycles; such as the biogeochemical cycles and radiative transfer budgets. His current research themes include, (1) improving ground and remote measurements of fire-effects to better quantity carbon and water cycles, (2) using optical and thermal imagery to improve regional assessment of the impact on fires on smoke and regional air quality; and (3) developing approaches to characterize vegetation structure with LiDAR and aerial photography to improve our understanding of carbon, water, and energy budgets.

Alistair Smith has published in excess of 20 papers in peer-reviewed journals, frequently reviews proposals for the Joint Fire Sciences Program, and sits on the organizing committee for the Biogeosciences section of the Fall American Geophysical Union meeting. He is a member of the IEEE and in 2005 was voted by fellow to be a member of the Institute of Physics.

Headshot image of Dr. Kara Yedinak

Dr. Kara Yedinak
Lab Manager and Research Scientist, University of Idaho

Kara Yedinak is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Forests, Rangelands, and Fire Sciences at the University of Idaho. Kara received her BS in Physics from Pacific University in 2002 where she studied low dimensional chaos and fluid flow. She worked as a research technician in fire behavior science at the USDA Forest Service Fire Sciences Laboratory in Missoula, Montana from 2004 to 2007. Kara completed her PhD in Engineering Science from the Laboratory for Atmospheric Research at Washington State University where she studied the interactions between the atmosphere and fire behavior through the use of model simulations and field observations. Currently Kara is focused on work at the IFIRE laboratory investigating concepts surrounding wildland fire propagation theory.

Headshot image of Dr. Eva Strand

Dr. Eva Strand
Assistant Professor, University of Idaho

Eva Strand is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Forests, Rangelands, and Fire Sciences at the University of Idaho. Challenges facing natural resource management and conservation often occur across large areas, requiring a landscape scale perspective. Strand's research interests focus on quantifying landscape change occurring on a variety of spatial and temporal scales, including global change, succession, disturbance events, invasive species, and change induced by humans. To study landscapes through space and time she uses geospatial tools such as geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing and image interpretation, GPS and landscape scale modeling. Strand is particularly interested in the interaction between the landscape mosaic and ecological processes including the effects on plant communities, wildlife habitat, disturbance regimes, fire behavior and effects, biogeochemical cycling, and landscape structure. Some of her recent projects include: Landscape scale modeling of the past and future distribution of western aspen and juniper woodlands; quantifying the effects of juniper expansion on the global carbon budget; fine scale mapping of fuels along a sagebrush-woodland gradient; researching effects of pre-fire vegetation structure, fuels, and burn severity on successional trajectories; and modeling the effects of grazing on fuels and fire behavior in western rangelands. Strand has a BS in Chemical Engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm Sweden, an MS in Chemical Engineering- Systems Analysis, and PhD focusing on quantitative fire regime modeling from the University of Idaho. Strand teaches courses in geospatial applications in natural resources and fire science.

Headshot image of Dr. Phil Higuera

Dr. Phil Higuera
Associate Professor, University of Montana

Dr. Phil Higuera was recently the director of the Paleoecology and Fire Ecology Lab at the University of Idaho, where graduate students, undergraduate students, and he are pursuing research in the US Rocky Mountains, Alaska, and abroad in Tasmania, Australia. This work calls on spatially-explicit modeling and quantitative analyses, charcoal and pollen analysis in lake-sediment records, and dendrochronology. His research focuses broadly on understanding how climate, vegetation, and human activities influence and interact with fire occurrence and fire regimes over a range of time scales, from years to millennia. How will ecosystems respond to ongoing and future environmental change? Studying and understanding how systems have changed in the past is a key component to answering these and similar questions at the heart of environmental science, global change science, and sustainable resource management.

Other information is available at:

Headshot image of Dr. Wade Tinkham

Dr. Wade Tinkham
Research Scientist, Colorado State University

Wade came to the University of Idaho in 2008 from Washington State University where he earned a B.S. in Forest Management. Since arriving in Idaho, Wade has earned a M.S. in Forest Resources and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources. He was also recognized by the College of Natural Resources as the Outstanding Graduate Student for his doctoral work and also received a university Alumni Award of Excellence. Wade's research is focused on improving the assessment of ecosystem services, by advancing our understanding of errors within remote sensing datasets and applying that knowledge to quantify the accuracy of associated value-added products. Wade has since entered into a Research Scientist position with the Idaho NSF EPSCoR and continues to work with IFIRE as a collaborator.

Headshot image of Dr. Crystal Kolden

Dr. Crystal Kolden
Department of Geography, University of Idaho

Headshot image of Dr. John Anderson

Dr. John Anderson
Virtual Technology and Design, University of Idaho

Headshot image of Aaron Sparks

Aaron Sparks
Ph.D. Student, University of Idaho

Aaron Sparks joined the Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences in the fall of 2012 under the guidance of Alistair Smith. Before coming to Idaho, Aaron earned a B.A. in Resource Management and a certificate in GIS sciences and technologies from the University of Montana in 2010. During his time at UM Aaron worked at the Mystic Ranger District in the Black Hills on a Forest Service engine crew. Following his district crew experience Aaron worked at the Fire Sciences Lab in Missoula working on projects studying fire severity mapping, whitebark pine restoration, and wildfire smoke plume composition. Aaron's graduate research has two foci: 1) investigating the seasonality of gas emissions from cheatgrass and native ecosystems in the western Great Basin; and 2) understanding the influence of fuel properties on the fire behavior and emissions composition of masticated fuels.

Headshot image of Nate Weihner

Nate Weihner
M.S. Student, University of Idaho

Nathan Weiner joined the Department of Forest, Range, and Fire Sciences at the University of Idaho as a M.S. student in the fall of 2012. Nathan’s research focuses on the influence wildfire fuels and fire severities have on post-fire vegetation response in Western Juniper woodlands in Southwestern Idaho. He received his B.S. in environmental geography from the University of Iowa in 2011. Nathan is currently the teaching assistant for the undergraduate prescribed fire course and has a professional background in prescribed fire management and wildfire suppression.

Headshot image of Dr. Robert Kremens

Dr. Robert Kremens
Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology

I am a physicist by training but a generalist by choice. I have worked in the private sector as an electronics engineer and consultant, as a physicist for the US Army, as a physicist at a large university research facility (U of Rochester Lab for Laser Energetics) and now lead my own research program investigating combustion processes for wildland fires.

Other information can be found at:

Headshot image of Dr. Michael Falkowski

Dr. Michael Falkowski
Colorado State University

Increasing concerns over climate change, biodiversity loss, and ecosystem disturbance have increased the demand for spatially explicit, large area ecosystem characterizations. To meet this need, my research is focused upon solving applied problems in ecosystem science and sustainable forest management. I am particularly interested in developing methods to quantify and monitor vegetation structure and composition across large spatial extents, primarily via remote sensing and spatial modeling.

I conduct research in a diversity of areas including LiDAR remote sensing of forest structure, spatial modeling of forest species composition and wildlife habitat suitability, as well as remote sensing of active fire and post-fire effects, among others. Although each of the aforementioned research areas are focused upon unique problems, there is one common thread throughout; integrating cutting edge spatial technologies with fundamental field measurements and established ecological theory to gain a better understanding of the natural environment.

Other information can be found at:

Headshot image of Dr. Jeff Hatten

Dr. Jeff Hatten
Assistant Professor, Oregon State University

Dr. Jeff Hatten returned to the northwest to serve as an Assistant Professor of Forest Soils at Oregon State University in the department of Forest Engineering, Resources & Management. Jeff graduated with a BS in Environmental Science from Western Washington University (1999). In 2007 I graduated from the University of Washington with a PhD in Forest Soils (Darlene Zabowski, advisor) after which I was a postdoc with an organic geochemist (Miguel Goni) in CEOAS at Oregon State University (2007-2009). I spent three years in Starkville, Mississippi as an Assistant Professor at Mississippi State University in the Department of Forestry (2009-2012). Currently, Jeff's research focuses on forests soils in managed settings that include intensively managed forests, prescribed fire, and other less intensively managed settings. I also conduct research on the source of sediment in natural and managed systems. His involvement began with the IFIRE lab in an effort to quantify the production and budgeting of black carbon, through the burning of masticated fuels.

Other information can be found at:

Headshot image of Nolan Brewer

Nolan Brewer
Forest Warden, Washington Department of Natural Resources

Nolan joined the Department of Forest Resources in the summer of 2009, under the tutelage of Dr. Alistair Smith. Nolan comes to the department with a B.A. in Geology and Environmental Studies from Whitman College. His undergraduate thesis focused on the effects of prescribed fires on aquatic ecosystems and sedimentation rates. After graduating in 2003, Nolan spent the last five years working in wildland fire as a hotshot, helicopter-rappeller, and smokejumper, as well as earning a technical degree in applied fire science under the Wildland Firefighter Apprenticeship Program. Nolan's research has primarily focused on measuring pre- and post-fire carbon emissions and carbon sequestration through black carbon production. Nolan successfully defended his MS in 2011 and has since taken a position with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources as a district Forest Warden, but continues to be actively involved in research efforts with the lab. Other interests include fire ecology, LiDAR mapping, and remote sensing.

Headshot image of Josh Hyde

Josh Hyde
Smoke Program Coordinator
USDA Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory, Seattle, WA
University of Idaho

Josh Hyde is an Instructional Associate and Program Coordinator for the University of Idaho department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire Sciences, working remotely from the Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory in Seattle, WA. He has a BSc in Rangeland Ecology and MSc in Forest Resources from the University of Idaho. Josh works with the NWCG Smoke Committee developing outreach materials on smoke and air quality issues, perform training assessments, and coordinate outreach efforts. Josh also works with the National Interagency Fuels Technology Transfer Team reviewing geospatial fuels management tools, and reviewing and developing learning content for these tools.

Headshot image of Dr. Chad Hoffman

Dr. Chad Hoffman
Colorado State University

Headshot image of Dr. Jim Lutz

Dr. Jim Lutz
Utah State University