Thompson Rivers University

Wildfire experts

  Posted on: August 24, 2021

Wildfire behavior, ecology, land, air and water impacts

Dr. Mike Flannigan, BC Research Chair in Predictive Services, Emergency Management and Fire Science.
His research involves developing methods to help predict when and where extreme fire weather may arise and exploring the development of early warning wildfire notification systems. He is working with BC Wildfire Service staff to address challenges related to predicting wildfire activity and behaviour, to enhance their ability to prepare for and respond to wildfires.
Please note Dr. Flannigan’s contact info will change when he’s at TRU full time. Get in touch with the media staff at the bottom of this list if these contacts don’t work.
Contact: Please get in touch via Michele Young,
For background information about the summer heatwave in Canada:

Dr. Jill Harvey, Canada Research Chair in Fire Ecology.
Dr. Harvey is investigating how wildfires and drought impact forests in the BC Interior. Her research studies the dynamics of past wildfires to understand how drought impacts the recovery of forests. Understanding the connections between wildfire, drought and forest responses is crucial to protect natural resources and determine how BC landscapes may change in the future.
On maternity leave until 2022, when she joins TRU full time.
Contact: 780-777-6458;

Dr. Thomas Pypker, associate professor, Faculty of Science.
Dr. Pypker is studying the after-effects of wildfires, particularly as they impact land disturbance and water flows. His project is being done in conjunction with UNBC and UBCO.
Contact: 250-828-5414 |

Dr. John Church, assistant professor, Faculty of Science Natural Resource Science and BC Regional Innovation Chair in Cattle Industry Sustainability.
Dr. Church studies the use of drones to monitor cattle on rangelands and uses that knowledge to help study wildfires, climate change and landslides.
Contact: 250-828-5150 |

Dr. Wendy Gardner, associate professor, Faculty of Science Natural Resource Science.
Dr. Gardner is studying plant community response after fires, and is leading undergraduate studies on fire severity impacts to understory plant community recovery.
Contact: 250-371-5570 |

Dr. John Karakatsoulis, associate teaching professor, Faculty of Science Natural Resource Science.
Dr. Karakatsoulis teaches forest ecology, conflict resolution in natural resources, silvics and silviculture. He studies natural landscapes and how ecosystems respond to natural and human-caused disturbances in coastal and interior ecosystems. Past research includes the early successional patterns of vegetation development following wildfire.
Contact: 250-828-5462 |

Dr. Michael Mehta, professor, Faculty of Arts Geography and Environmental Studies.
Dr. Mehta studies public perceptions of risk, air quality and health, and disaster preparedness and lessons learned from previous wildfires.
Contact: 250-852-7275 | 778-220-3568 (cell) |

Dr. Xiaoping Shi, assistant professor, Faculty of Science Mathematics and Statistics.
Dr. Shi studies hyperspectral remote sensing images acquired from Earth-orbiting satellites and their great promise in helping monitor and catalogue substances emitted into the atmosphere. He continues to develop new methods including classification for segmenting the hyperspectral images and change-point detection for finding when the smoke and wildfires start, and then extend those methods to other fields for pollute detection.
Contact: 647-867-8639 |

Wildfire economic and social impacts

Dr. Bala Nikku, assistant professor, School of Social Work and Human Service in the Faculty of Education and Social Work.
Dr. Nikku studies human interactions with wildfires, such as the evacuation choices that people make. He tries to understand the rationale behind peoples’ choices before, during and post disaster, and how those choices intersect with disaster management practices. He is researching evacuation choices made during fires at Fort McMurray and in the BC Interior, and nurturing community resilience to wildfires.
Contact 250-828-5242 | 250-320-7294 (cell) |

Dr. Ehsan Latif, professor, School of Business and Economics, chair of Department of Economics.
Dr. Latif studies the socio-economic determinants of health and obesity, but also the economics of happiness and well-being. That has led to him commenting on the psychological impacts of economic devastation, such as caused by wildfires and other disasters, and even the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contact: 250-377-6026 |

Can’t find the wildfire expert you’re looking for?
Contact Michele Young, Media Relations, TRU University Relations