San Jose State Establishes Nation’s Largest Academic Wildfire Research Center

As the Professor of Meteorology and Climate Science and Director of the Fire Weather Research Lab at San Jose State University, Craig Clements believes the college has now assembled a dream team of wildfire scientists.

The timing could not have been better, as massive blazes have ravaged California and made clear that there’s an urgent need for advanced wildfire research.

SJSU this past week announced that it has established the largest academic Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center (WIRC) in the nation.

The program is buoyed by new tenure-track faculty members and with millions of dollars in new technology. Future research and data coming out of WIRC are expected to uncover new information that may help prevent the next big wildfire.

The WIRC team specializes in several different disciplines of wildfire science and management, including biology, meteorology, environmental studies and mechanical engineering, ensuring that no sticks or un-sparked kindling will be left unturned in the advancement of this particular field of study.

“The research group that was established here 10 years ago has been international leaders in their fields for quite some time,” Clements told San Jose Inside in a recent phone call. “We were lucky to recruit these [new] faculty members because they vary in experience and all of them bring a unique perspective.”

Clements will staff the program along with fellow faculty members Patrick Brow, Mike Voss, Adam Kochanski, Amanda Stasiewicz, Ali Tohidi, Kate Wilkin and another yet-to-be-named instructor expected to join the team in January.

Each professor boasts a different skill set and specialization that school officials say will go a long way in meeting the enormous challenge of dealing with future wildfires.

“In just the past few years, wildfires have scorched California’s landscape, burning millions of acres, injuring and killing hundreds of people and causing billions of dollars in damages,” SJSU College of Science Dean Michael Kaufman said. “Dealing with this challenge requires interdisciplinary solutions. The advanced wildfire research enabled by this new center is needed now more than ever before.”

Clements and his staff will have the latest technology at their disposal, including an advanced, next-generation wild-atmosphere forecasting system and a host of mobile assets to conduct research in the field.

An advanced fire protection system takes into account how wildfires create their own weather, which most fire protection systems ignore, Clements said.

The mobile assets include two customized trucks equipped with Doppler radar and one truck having LiDar, an active remote sensing instrument that measures the speed of aerosols-dust, water or pollution-found traveling in the wind.

“One of our goals is to provide state-of-the-art science research in the academic discipline of wildifre science,” Clements exlained. “If we combine all the physical tools and social science fire ecology aspects, we can realize our goal to be able to push better policies at the state and national level.”


  1. > San Jose State Establishes Nation’s Largest Academic Wildfire Research Center

    Probably, a useful idea.

    Two conditions:

    1. Prohibit ANY global warming or climate change quacks from having anything to do with this research.

    2. Fund it by DEFUNDING the diversity studies, gender studies, ethnic studies, or any identity politics programs.

  2. Mr Bubbles,

    Of course neither will happen.

    No need to fund anything, the conclusion and recommendations of the Center will be:

    Conclusion – The conclusive cause of wildfires will be climate change catalyzed by white supremacy and their colonization of stolen lands.

    Urgent Imperative – Starting with Santa Clara County, all zoned properties outside UGB will lose residential zoning. First no re-building, then no new builds, then forced de-occupation as a police power for the public good. Once they have worked out the kinks and the constitutional challenges, it will be time to move on to the state. Once the entire population is educated to believe that anything other than small, high density population is the solution of wildfires/climate change/white supremacy, by then synonyms, all low population states would be de-occupied of “white” colonizers and returned to the indigenous.

  3. > Conclusion – The conclusive cause of wildfires will be climate change catalyzed by white supremacy and their colonization of stolen lands.

    Mr. Kulak:

    Lily Tomlin famously said: “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.”

    I concede your points. I can’t keep up.

  4. Mr. Lee tells us “the timing could not have been better”. Huh? Seems to me the timing is ten years too late, given the wildfire history of the last five years, which might have been ameliorated had this program started ten years ago.
    But then I read on, to find that this current announcement is about increasing an existing program. So what were the fine public employees in the program doing the last ten years?
    It doesn’t take an overeducated wildfire researcher to know that proper forest management is the primary defense against wildfires. But in CA little money has been spent in that area, in favor of throwing money away on worthless and serially unsuccessful liberal feel good programs. Check out Oregon. Copy its forest management system, terminate most of the current non essential team for ineffectiveness and delay hiring any additions or buying new high tech equipment that is little better than common sense, but far less effective.
    California wastes far too much taxpayer money on ineffective feel good programs, while letting basibpc and necessary things like road repair and maintenance fall by the wayside.

  5. Wildfires have been part and parcel of the west for thousands of years.

    What we really need to do is change building codes for those residing in fire prone areas.

    Why is this NEVER part of the solution!

    It’s almost as if the building and timber industry have billions of dollars at stake.