A Closer Look
Igniting Fire Research at HSU’S Fire Lab
In 2012, federal agencies spent $1.9 billion battling wildfires in the United States. Wildfires are getting larger, causing more damage and becoming more dangerous and expensive to fight. Humboldt State University’s Wildland Fire Laboratory is working to understand the flammability differences of fuels in an effort to better manage wildfires and lessen the negative impacts they can have on ecosystems.
As one of only three universities in the nation to have an active indoor fire research lab, HSU’s Wildland Fire Lab houses state-of-the-art equipment and cutting-edge technologies that allow students and faculty to work together to study fire behavior. Faculty and students conduct research that tests the flammability of different fuels (tree debris, grasses and decomposed organic matter that help spread wildfires) using the fire lab’s burning facility, thermal infrared imaging camera and fire modeling software.
On October 4, CSU’s Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) hosted a one-day workshop at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where faculty and students in science disciplines learned successful strategies on how to bridge the gap between academia and Sacramento.
COAST collaborated with State Senator Sam Blakeslee and his staff at the Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy at Cal Poly SLO, the Center for Coastal Marine Sciences at Cal Poly SLO and the Institute for Applied Marine Ecology at CSU Monterey Bay to bring the “Connecting Science to Sacramento: The Role of Science in Policymaking” event to fruition. The workshop consisted of six sessions where legislators, state agency personnel, policy committee staff and journalists shared with faculty, staff, students and community leaders details about the policy and decision making process.
Michael Fox studying the effects of disturbances on kelp and their associated communities during his lab at the MLML.
Michael Fox, who recently completed his M.S. at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, is one of three recipients of the 2013 Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship. The scholarship, which is awarded annually to only three to four scholars from across the country, provides financial support to encourage independent graduate-level research in oceanography, marine biology, or maritime archaeology.
At the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Fox studied the recovery from disturbance in giant kelp. He is now pursuing a Ph.D. in marine biology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The scholarship will be used to support his dissertation of how nutrient pollution affects the dominant processes structuring competitive interactions between reef-building corals and macroalgae.