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CITRIS Research Exchange – Crystal Kolden on Fire Science

A CITRIS Research Exchange Seminar with speaker Crystal Kolden

Talk title:How Do We Stop Wildfire Disasters? A Complex Systems Perspective

Speaker: Crystal Kolden, Assistant Professor, Fire Science, UC Merced

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Speaker bio: Dr. Crystal Kolden, Ph.D. is a pyrogeographer with over two decades of experience in fire science. After beginning her career as a wildland firefighter for the US Forest Service in California, she earned graduate degrees in Geography focused on remote sensing of wildfires, and has spent the last 15 years trying to understand and the causes of and identify solutions to rapidly increasing wildfire disasters. She conducts research on wildfire disaster mitigation and works with communities and agencies globally to develop and implement adaptation strategies.

Abstract: Wildfires are a complex physical process that occurs both naturally and at the hands of humans. Fires are necessary to support many ecosystems and cultures, but are producing increasingly disastrous human outcomes globally, and particularly in the western US. While engineering and technological advances have substantially mitigated other types of natural disasters over decades, there is a considerable lag in this arena for wildfire, which is a product of how fire has been historically viewed in the US. Here, I review both why the frameworks applied to disaster mitigation have been overlooked with respect to wildfire and also the state-of-the-science regarding common misconceptions about wildfire mitigation. Further, I highlight key areas where engineering, technology, and data sciences could produce substantial and rapid advances in mitigating wildfire disasters. I also offer suggestions for the development of near-term research in wildfire mitigation and adaption, particularly through replication, amplification, and expansion of natural biological solutions.

About the series: CITRIS Research Exchange delivers fresh perspectives on information technology and society from distinguished academic, industry, and civic leaders. Free and open to the public, this series highlights leading voices on societal-scale research issues. Each seminar takes place on Wednesdays from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm PT. Have a suggestion for a great speaker? Please use this form to suggest potential speakers for our series.

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