Who We Are

The Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory at University of Washington focuses on developing solutions from the 21st Century to wildland fire and health problems created by policies derived from more than a century of fire exclusion, climate change and a growing wildland urban interface throughout the United States and overseasThe lab conducts joint research with the USFS PWFSL in Seattle. UW Staff and some graduate students are housed at the USFS facilities. At the UW, the lab is led by Dr. Ernesto Alvarado, and consists of graduate and undergraduate students, professional staff, two programmers and field technicians.

We study a wide variety of wildland fire topics – fire behavior, combustion science, biomass assessments, fire ecology, fire management, prescribed fires, fire-climate change interactions, landscape ecology, emissions of greenhouse gases, fire policy, and traditional fire use by indigenous communities. Current and past research includes studies on Federal, State and Tribal lands in the United States, and biosphere reserves and protected natural areas throughout the Americas from Alaska, Mexico, and South America.



Principal Investigator:

Dr. Ernesto Alvarado,  Associate Professor of Wildland Fire Sciences

Affiliate Faculty

  • Dr. Morgan Varner, FERA Team Leader, USFS PNW Research Station.
  • Dr. Sim Larkin, AirFire Team Leader, USFS PNW Research Station.
  • Dr. Roger Ottmar, FERA Team, USFS PNW Research Station.
  • Dr. Morris Johnson, FERA Team, USFS PNW Research Station.


  • SEFS 535. Fire Ecology. Fall Quarter
  • ESRM420. Wildland Fire Management. Spring Quarter
  • SEFS 521. Field Trip to the Yakama Nation

Current Students:

  1. Anthony Martinez, BS Student
  2. Ashley Blazina, MS Student
  3. Claudia Muñoz, MS Student
  4. Colton Miller, PhD Student
  5. Dana Chapman, BS Student
  6. Deborah Nemens, MS Student
  7. Fabiola Pulido, MS Student
  8. James Cronan, PhD Candidate
  9. Lawrence Curley, MS Student
  10. Lesly Franco, MS Student
  11. Paul Albertine, BS Student
  12. Paulina Casillas Llamas, PhD Student
  13. Wyatt O’Brien, BS Student

Past Graduate Students:

  1. Christopher Rynhan. MFR 2009. Using Fuel Mastication to Reduce Fire Hazard in the Cedar River Watershed.
  2. Gustavo Negreiros, PhD 2002. Thesis: Understanding and Modeling Ecological Processes Controlling Flammability in Seasonally Dry Evergreen Forests of the Brazilian Amazon. Professor at the Geography Department, Federal University do Vale do Sao Sao Francisco, Bahia, Brazil.
  3. Brooke Cassell, MS 2012. Thesis: Fire History of the Sierra de Manantlán Biosphere Reserve in Western México. PhD Student at Portland State University
  4. Joseph Restaino, MS 2012. Thesis: Wildfire and fuel treatment effects on carbon storage, eastside Cascade Range, Washington, USA
  5. Pratibah Duwal, MS 2014. Thesis: Perceived Impacts of Climate Change on Forests and Livelihoods in the Padampokhari Village on the Parsa Wildlife Reserve Buffer Zone, Nepal.
  6. Tmthspusmen Wilder, MS 2014. Thesis: Quantifying landscape spatial patterns: a collaborative forest management framework for tribal and federal lands.
  7. Katherine Hoglund-Wyatt, MS 2013. Thesis: Riparian Vegetation Structure and Composition in the Fire–Prone Ecosystem of Eastern Washington. Nature Capital, Stanford University.
  8. Natasha Stavros, PhD 2013. Thesis: Understanding climate and very large wildfires in the Western United States at scales for modeling air quality. NASA JPL.
  9. Taylor Cates, BS 2016. Megafires, radiative force, and atmospheric stability in the state of Washington.
  10. Holly Mouser. BS Capstone. Comparing fire potential between the Yakama Reservation and USFS lands.
  11. Lukas Vandrell. 2014. BS Capstone. Ecological and economic tradeoff analysis between the wildfires and prescribed fires in the Naches RD: Values threatened by the Wild Rose Wildfire and saved by the Kaboon Prescribed Fire.
  12. Jaime Olivia Jazzie. BS 2014. Integration of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in fire and land management at the Navajo Reservation. Navajo. MS student at Northern Arizona University.
  13. John Kirby. BS 2014. Fuel treatments in the Wildland Urban Interface in the Eagle Fire in the Wenatchee-Okanogan National Forest.Silviculturist at the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
  14. Helen Fillmore, BS 2013. Fuels and Fire hazard at the Washoe Tribal Lands of Nevada. Washoe of Nevada. MS student at the University of Nevada at Reno.
  15. Brandon Ambrose, BS. 2010. Fuelbeds for the fuel treatments in the Yakama Reservation. Fuels Manager at the Yakama Nation.
  16. Aarin Sensirirak. 2009. Capstone Project: Insects and Fire in the Tripod Fire.
  17. Patrick Buttom. 2008. Wildfires in northern India. Smoke Jumper at the USFS North Cascades Smokejumper Base.
  18. Kelsay Knutson. 2008. Carbon Emissions and Biomass Consumption from Slash-and-Burn Fires: A Case Study from the Chiquitano Forest in Bolivia. MS Student at USC. 


UW Professional Staff Housed at the Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory

  1. Susan Prichard, PhD, Fire Ecologist
  2. Thomas Milac, PhD, Applied Mathematician
  3. Robert Solomon, PhD, Mathematical Computing and Modeling
  4. Ronan Paugam, PhD, Combustion Engineer
  5. Courtney Cansler, PhD, Fire Ecologist
  6. Kjell Sweden, Senior Computer Specialist
  7. Joel Duwoby, Senior Computer Specialist
  8. Joe Restaino, MS, Fire Ecologist
  9. Amy Marsha, MS, Statistician
  10. Anne Andreu, MS, Ecologist
  11. Sarah Harrison, BS, Forest Technician
  12. Jimin Kim, BS, Mathematical Computing


  • Dr. Susan O’Neil. AirFire Team, USFS PNW Research Station.
  • Dr. Armando Gonzalez-Caban. Riverside Forestry Laboratory. USFS PSW Research Station
  • Dr. Diego Perez-Salicrup. UNAM, Mexico
  • Dr. Joao Andrade de Carvalho, UNESP and INPE, Brazil
  • Enrique Jardel-Pelaez. Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico
  • Dr. Daniel Vega, Universidad de Durango, Mexico

Visiting Scientists and Sabbatical Scholars

The lab has hosted several visiting scientists and post-doctorate fellows on short research visits or year long sabbaticals either through the University of Washington or the USFS Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory.

  1. Dr. Fernando de Souza Costa. Combustion Scientist. Propulsion and Combustion Laboratory. National Institute of Space Research (INPE), Sao Paulo, Brazil. On a sabbatical year, co-hosted with the USFS Corvallis Forestry Sciences Laboratory. Corvallis, Oregon. 2000.
  2. Dr. Lourdes Villers Ruiz. Professor from the National University of Mexico on a sabbatical year. 2002.
  3. Dr. Carlos Gurgel Veras. Professor from the Mechanical Engineering Department, University of Brasilia. Brasilia, Brazil. 2007.
  4. Dr. Joao Andrade de Carvalho. Professor and Scientist. Mechanical Engineering Department, University of the State of Sao Paulo, and Propulsion and Combustion Laboratory. National Institute of Space Research (INPE). Sao Paulo, Brazil. Three 2-week stays in 2000, 2005, 2016.
  5. Mr. Jose Carlos dos Santos. Research Coordinator. Propulsion and Combustion Laboratory. National Institute of Space Research, Sao Paulo. Brazil. 2 months in 1999, 2 weeks in 2005.
  6. Dr. Marcus Vinicio Neves de Oliveira. Senior Scientist, Agriculture and Forest Research Center (EMBRAPA), Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil. Two-year sabbatical and research stay at the USFS Seattle Laboratory. 2008-2010.
  7. Dr. Diego Perez Salicrup. Professor from the National University of Mexico on a sabbatical year. 2010
  8. Dr. Guenther Carlos Krieger Filho. Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, on a 6 month sabbatical in 2012.
  9. Jose Maria Michel Fuentes. MS student from University of Guadalajara, Mexico. Graduate in 2010.
  10. Xareni Sanchez. Doctoral Student from the Physics Department, University of Guanajuato. 2015.

Funded Research Projects

  1. Determining community based mitigation solutions for long term wildland fire/flood risks. Collaborator: Prof. Robert Freitag, UW College of Built Environments.
  2. Washington Forest Resiliency Burning Pilot: Fuel Characterization, Tree Mortality Assessment and Air Quality Monitoring and Analysis. Collaborators Roger Ottmar and Susan O’Neil, USFS PNW Research Station.
  3. The consequences of soil heating for prescribed fire use and fire restoration in the South. Collaborators: Prof. Leda Koziar, University of Idaho and Dr. Morgan Varner, USFS PNW Research Station.
  4. Evaluating the effects of salvage logging and developing fire resilient forests on the Colville Reservation and Colville National Forest in Washignton and El Dorado National Forest in California. Collaborators: Dr. Morris Johnson, USFS PNW Research Station, Dr. Tom de Luca, Colton Miller, Melissa Pingree, SEFS UW.
  5. Nisqually Garry Oak Habitat: Cultural and Ecological Considerations for Successful Restoration in the Nisqually Tribal Reservation. Collaborator Ashley Blazina
  6. Solutions for Current and Future Wildfires: Physical and Ecological Models for Fire, Fuels, and Smoke in Ecosystems and the Wildland Urban Interface.
  7. Improving estimates of future fires, fire emissions, and smoke.
  8. Research on Fire, Fuels, Landscape Ecology, and the Wildland-Urban-Interface.
  9. Detailed fuelbed characterization, mapping and future fire hazard assessment for Eglin Air Force Base, FL. Collaborator James Cronan
  10. Fire management tools for Mexico’s Biosphere Reserves and Protected Areas. USFS International Program.
  11. Biomass estimation, carbon emissions, smoke chemistry, carbon fluxes, recovery of burned areas, flammability modeling, combustion modeling in the Amazon Forest in Brazil.
  12. Fuel characterization and classification to generate and validate fuel models for Mexico. PI: Dr. Diego Perez-Salicrup. Mexico’s UNAM
  13. Development of a forest fire risk rating for Mexico. PI: Dr. Daniel Vega, University of Durango, Mexico.