UC Riverside Wildfire Experts

Faculty experts can talk about topics including fire ecology, land development, vegetation management, fire behavior and air quality

Photo shows a wildfire.

UC Riverside has a wide variety of faculty members and researchers available to talk about wildfires.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — With wildfires burning in Southern California, a wide range of University of California, Riverside faculty members and researchers are available to talk to journalists to add depth to wildfire stories:


Richard A. Minnich, a professor of earth sciences, is an expert on the fire ecology of Southern California. He can comment on how exotic plant invasions and climate change influence wildfires, problems that can arise due to fire suppression, the impact of dry weather and drought on wildfires, the contribution of air pollution to wildfires and solutions to addressing wildfires. He can be reached at 951-827-5515 and richard.minnich@ucr.edu.


Tom Scott, an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Earth Sciences, studies wildlife conservation and can speak to the effect wildfires have on animal habitat, and on the land that sits between the suburban developments of the cities and the tourist towns of the highlands. “We have 1,900 kilometers of houses that back up to wild lands in Riverside County alone,” he said. “How could we not have problems with that kind of juxtaposition of people and brush fire territory? Along that margin, anything can happen.” Scott currently is working on oak mortality triggered by the goldspotted oak borer, which has killed over 80,000 trees in San Diego County. He can be reached at thomas.scott@ucr.edu and 951-827-5515.


Kevin Turner, coordinator of UC Riverside’s goldspotted oak borer program, is a retired CALFIRE chief whose specialty was vegetation management.  He shepherded the creation of a fuel management plan for the San Jacinto Mountains. He can be reached at kevin.turner@ucr.edu and 951-827-5115.


Marko Princevac, an associate professor of mechanical engineering in the Bourns College of Engineering, can comment on fire behavior and emissions/air quality/visibility impacts of wildfires. He can be reached at 951-827-2445 or marko@engr.ucr.edu.


Akua Asa-Awuku, an assistant professor of chemical engineering in the Bourns College of Engineering, investigates the composition of particles that form during wildfires and their impact on regional air quality and climate. She can talk about that research and what is happening to create the different color compositions in the sky that are often seen during wildfires. She can be reached at 951-827-2271 or akua@engr.ucr.edu.


Katharine Sweeny, an assistant professor of psychology, studies how people give news of, prepare for, and respond to bad news. These lines of research incorporate the study of risk judgments, coping, decision-making, emotions, social cognition, and communication. People frequently face difficult waiting periods when they anticipate uncertain news regarding their or their loved ones’ health, relationships, professional prospects, and academic outcomes. She explores one aspect of the waiting experience in detail: bracing for bad news. She can be reached at 951-827-5243 and katharine.sweeny@ucr.edu.


Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-4756
E-mail: john.warren@ucr.edu

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