How do we solve the “Wicked Problem”?: the State of Fire Science in California
California has a long history of fire science and an even longer history of extensive fire, both natural and human in origin. Today, California is also the epicenter of increasing wildfire disasters, yielding calls for solutions to what has been termed the “wicked problem” of wildfire. Such solutions will likely need to be complex and interdisciplinary in nature, highlighting the utility of developing collaborative fire science partnerships and efforts across the state. Here, we visualize the strengths and opportunities for fire science across California in the hopes of seeding new ideas for cross-campus and collaborative partnerships between the broad spectrum of fire science practitioners across the state, as well as with the science communicators who seek to inform science-based management. We also highlight the need to train a diverse population of new fire scientists who will continue to tackle the unknowns of the discipline into the evolving future.
Assistant Professor and Deb Faculty Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley
Assistant Professor of Fire Science, University of California, Merced
Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Merced
Crystal Kolden recently returned to California after a decade in Idaho and is still re-learning how to drive fast. She is a pyrogeographer and an Assistant Professor in Management of Complex Systems at UC Merced.
Jeanette Cobian-Iñiguez is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Merced. Prior to her current position, she was a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley working on smoldering fire behavior of simulated wildland fuels. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of California, Riverside. Jeanette’s focused areas are fire behavior and heat transfer and fluid dynamics of environmental phenomena. Her new research group at UCM will focus on fundamental wildfire behavior, fire dynamics, and the effects of wildfire on air and water quality.
Michael Gollner is an Assistant Professor and Deb Faculty Fellow in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He recently returned home to California after serving as a faculty member in the Department of Fire Protection Engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park from 2012-2019. He is broadly interested in fire science problems, utilizing experiments and combustion and fluid dynamics theory to solve problems related to fire spread, material flammability, and smoke transport. Much of his work is focused on applications to wildfires, including their spread through vegetation, ignition of structures in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), transport of embers, fire whirls, and emissions from wildfire smoke.