The following Oregon State University faculty members have expertise related to wildfire issues and are willing to speak with journalists. Their specific expertise, and contact information, is listed below. For help with other OSU faculty experts, contact Sean Nealon, 541-737-0787, [email protected].

Oregon State's Fire Extension Program and the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication teamed up to create this resource guide for media covering wildfires in Oregon. 

Culture/History/Society

Emily Jane Davis, 541-520-2688, [email protected]

Davis is the interim director for the OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Fire Program, which facilitates partnerships that work to create healthy and resilient communities and landscapes across Oregon by minimizing risk of catastrophic wildfire and providing education and outreach for all Oregonians. Her areas of expertise include:

  • Collaboration and partnerships 
  • Fire adapted communities 
  • Landscape resiliency  
  • Social and economic dimensions of wildfire adaptation and suppression/response
  • Outreach and education

David G. Lewis[email protected]

David is a member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, a descendant of the Takelma, Chinook, Molalla, and Santiam Kalapuya peoples of western Oregon. He is an associate professor in anthropology and Native studies at OSU. David studies tribal histories of Western Oregon tribes. His research addresses traditional burning practices among Indigenous groups, and changes that came to tribal societies when colonization by settlers occurred and removed tribes and their cultures from the land. He can speak to: 

  • Traditional cultural landscape stewardship
  • Histories of changes to tribal cultures
  • Diseases, assimilation, treaties, removal, reservations and federal management histories of tribes. 
  • Restoration of Tribal cultural practices

Ecology/Climate

John Bailey, 541-737-1497, [email protected]

Bailey studies the role of forest management in accomplishing landowner objectives, including fire resilience, habitat and restoration. His areas of expertise include:

  • Fuels management for fire risk reduction
  • Wildland fire ecology
  • Prescribed fire

Kevin Bladon, 541-737-5482, [email protected]

Bladon, an associate professor in the OSU College of Forestry and department head of Forest Ecosystems and Society, studies the impacts of wildfire and post-fire land management on forest hydrology, water quality and aquatic ecosystem health. His areas of expertise include:

  • Effects of fire on streamflow
  • Effects of fire on water quality, including stream temperature, sediment and nutrients
  • Wildfire threats to community drinking water supply

Lisa Ellsworth, 541-737-1959, [email protected]

Oregon’s largest wildfires have occurred not in forests but in rangelands where wind-driven grass fires can spread with devastating speed. Lisa Ellsworth, associate professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and Conservation Sciences, studies the long-term consequences of fire, invasive plants and other factors in forests and the sagebrush country of central and eastern Oregon. She can discuss:

  • How rangeland ecosystems respond to fire
  • The role of fire in creating the habitat and vegetation of western forests and rangelands
  • Links between climate change, altered fire regimes, invasive plants, and increased human ignitions

  • Fuels management: Prescribed fire, fuel breaks, fuel treatments

Erica Fleishman, 805-291-6258, [email protected]

Fleishman is director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute and a professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. Her research focuses on ecological responses to variability and changes in climate and land use in the western United States.  She can discuss:

  • Interactions among fire dynamics and natural and human environmental change
  • Challenges and opportunities that fire presents to resource management
  • Ecological adaptations to fire

Jeff Hatten, 541-737-8720, [email protected] 

Hatten, an associate professor of forest soils, studies the impact of prescribed and wild land fire on soils, soil organic matter, forest nutrition, and the erosion of soil carbon from burned watersheds. He can comment on:

  • Fire effects on soil nutrients, moisture and temperature
  • Role of fire in soil organic matter stabilization and destabilization 
  • Response of tree productivity to fire
  • Role of fire in eroding and transporting carbon from watershed

James Johnston[email protected]

Johnston studies historical and contemporary patterns of wildfire in the Pacific Northwest, with a particular focus on using tree ring data to understand variability in fire and climate. Johnston also monitors the ecological effects of fuel reduction treatments in dry forests and works closely with stakeholders to integrate science into management. His areas of expertise include:

  • Paleoecological data
  • Fuel reduction thinning
  • Collaborative governance
  • Restoration forestry

Meg Krawchuk, 541-737-1483, [email protected]

Krawchuk studies fire ecology and fire patterns using data from satellites, maps, management and field collections to understand drivers of where fires occur, the fingerprints they leave behind and the ecological outcomes of burning. She can discuss:

  • How and why historical and modern fire patterns vary across environmental gradients and in different geographies
  • Ecological and social wins and losses associated with fire
  • Fire as an ecosystem process, pros and cons of fire for conservation of biodiversity

Beverly Law, 541-737-6111, [email protected]

Law is a professor of global change biology & terrestrial systems science in the OSU Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. Her research is on climate change; forest ecology; biodiversity of plant and animal species; natural climate solutions; micrometeorology and biogeochemistry. She can comment on:

  • Land use strategies for climate mitigation and adaptation
  • Landscape to regional analysis of effects of drought, fire and management on forest carbon, drinking water sources and biodiversity
  • Science and policy

Daniel Leavell, 541-737-7163, [email protected]

Leavell is an associate professor of practice in the OSU College of Forestry, specializing in forest and fire science: fire ecology, silviculture, landscape ecology, disturbance ecology, fire management, forest management, prescribed burning and fire investigations. He can address:

  • Cohesive Strategy, cross-boundary, landscape-scale fire resilience, forest health, wildlife and watershed suitable planning and implementation of projects.
  • Fire management, training and education.
  • Fire investigations for wildland and structure.
  • Where forest, range, watershed, wildlife and fire ecology meet and intersect across communities and landscapes.
  • Risk assessment at various scales, planning and implementation.

Larry O’Neill, 541-737-6396, [email protected]

O’Neill is the Oregon State Climatologist with the Oregon State Climate Service and an associate professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. He can discuss:

  • Seasonal outlooks and historical weather patterns
  • Weather factors influencing wildfire and drought conditions
  • Links between climate change and severity and duration of drought cycles
  • Current weather,fire and drought conditions in Oregon

Human/Animal Health

Perry Hystad, 541-737-4829, [email protected]

Hystad is an environmental epidemiologist who studies the health effects associated with exposure to air pollution, including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and cancer. He’s currently leading a global study of cardiopulmonary health impacts from outdoor and household air pollution. His areas of expertise include:

  • Health impacts of air pollution from wildfire smoke
  • Differences between smoke and other types of pollution
  • Ways to lessen health impacts of wildfire smoke

Risk/Resilience

Chris Adlam, 971-318-0350, [email protected]

Adlam, regional fire specialist with the OSU Extension Fire Program, works to support community-based ecological forest and fire management in southwest Oregon. He seeks to understand and communicate the place of fire in our landscapes and societies through fire science and collaboration with diverse experts, including Indigenous fire practitioners. He can discuss:

  • Prescribed fire use and benefits.
  • Supporting Indigenous cultural burning practices
  • Impacts of fire and forest management on biodiversity
  • How a lack of fire has altered landscapes, and what we can do about it in the face of climate change

Carrie Berger, 541-737-7524, [email protected]

Berger is the program manager for the OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Fire Program, which facilitates partnerships that work to create healthy and resilient communities and landscapes across Oregon by minimizing risk of catastrophic wildfire and providing education and outreach for all Oregonians. Her areas of expertise include:

  • Fire preparedness and mitigation
  • Fire adapted communities
  • Landscape scale restoration
  • Prescribed fire
  • Outreach and education

David Blunck, 541-737-7095, [email protected]

Embers are wildfire’s emissaries. By understanding how embers form and travel through the air, scientists can more accurately predict how fire will spread. Blunck, an associate professor in the College of Engineering, is studying the process of ember formation in wind tunnel experiments. He can discuss:

  • How moisture and wood species affect the development of embers
  • How far embers can travel and set spot fires
  • The physics of ember transport

Ariel Cowan, [email protected]

Cowan is based in Redmond and she serves eight counties on the east slope of the Cascades for OSU’s Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Fire Program. The program facilitates partnerships to create healthy and resilient communities and landscapes across Oregon by minimizing risk of catastrophic wildfire and providing education and outreach for all Oregonians. Her previous experience includes studying fire effects (soils, fungi, and seedling establishment) in dry forests, tree pathology, dendrochronology, forestry, and wildland firefighting. Her areas of expertise include:

  • Fire ecology and history
  • Soils & Fungi
  • Defensible space and fuel reduction treatments
  • Prescribed Fire

Amy Jo Detweiler, 541-548-6088, [email protected]

Detweiler is a horticulture faculty member in the OSU Extension Service and a co-author of a publication, “Fire-Resistant Plants for Home Landscapes.” She can discuss the following topics:

  • Types of perennials, shrubs and trees that are less likely to burn
  • Care and maintenance tips for firewise plantings
  • Techniques for firewise landscape practices

Chris Dunn, 541-737-1194, [email protected]

Dunn, an assistant professor in the College of Forestry, studies large fire management and wildfire risk science to address long-term wildfire risk reduction by rethinking our relationship with fire across fire-prone landscapes. He focuses on science that supports decision-making by the fire-management service in response to the many values placed upon natural landscapes. He also researches post-fire landscapes and ecosystem resilience to contemporary fires, further informing upstream decisions about managing fires to meet resource objectives. His areas of expertise include:

  • Fire ecology
  • Wildfire management
  • Analytics and decision-making

Erica Fischer, 541-737-0093, [email protected]

The wildland urban interface (WUI) is the fastest growing land use in the contiguous United States; however, our civil infrastructure is not designed to withstand the demands from wildland urban interface fires. Erica Fischer is an assistant professor in the School of Civil and Construction Engineering in the College of Engineering. She studies fire in the wildland urban interface environment to improve civil infrastructure resilience. She can discuss:

  • How building systems and materials behave in fire
  • How critical infrastructure (water, hospitals, schools) can be designed for fires in wildland urban interface communities
  • Interconnections in impacts and recovery of institutions within a community (e.g. housing and education)

Aaron Groth, 503-325-8573, Ext. 259, [email protected]

Groth, based in Astoria (Clatsop County Extension), works as an assistant professor of practice and regional fire specialist for the coastal fire service area, with OSU’s Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Fire Program. The program facilitates partnerships to create healthy and resilient communities and landscapes across Oregon by minimizing risk of catastrophic wildfire and providing education and outreach for all Oregonians.  His career has focused on environment and natural resource management, governance, and training. He develops fire education programming, responding to the needs of multiple demographics, landowners, local organizations, and government agencies across the coast. His areas of expertise include:

  • Collaboration and partnerships
  • Wildfire preparedness and mitigation
  • Facilitation
  • Fire history and ecology

Rachel Houtman, 541-737-4294, [email protected]

Houtman is a research assistant in the Department of Forest Engineering, Resources, and Management at OSU studying the long-term implications of forest management actions and wildfire at the level of landscapes. She can comment on:

  • How actions today may shape our landscapes tomorrow, leading to resilient landscapes
  • The effect of fuel treatments and harvests on wildfire
  • Trade-offs between fire suppression costs and losses from fire

Andrew Merschel, 541-908-5192, [email protected]

Andrew Merschel uses dendrochronology or “tree-ring” research methods to understand fire regimes and forest dynamics. This research helps us understand the role of fire in shaping different ecosystems, understand how forest and fire management is changing forests ecosystems, and develop strategies for forest conservation.

Area of expertise include:

  • Precise dating or aging of trees and past fires across the Pacific Northwest
  • Describing fire regimes and assessing the impacts of contemporary fires in comparison to historical fires
  • Forest dynamics and development history in dry forests east of the Cascades and moist forests in the Western Cascades and Oregon Coast Range