Graduate Education and Research Opportunities in Forest Fire Management at Ontario Universities

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources’ fire management program is home to many skilled and knowledgeable personnel, some of whom may be interested in, but unaware of, opportunities for advanced study in fire at Ontario universities. We therefore decided to prepare the following brief descriptions of graduate programs offered by Ontario university researchers who work closely with the fire program and would be very pleased to host such students.

Carleton University

The School of Industrial Design at Carleton University offers a Master of Design (MDES) focusing on the interdisciplinary design development process. Graduates are trained to positively affect the greater integration of design principles and knowledge into private and public sector design business practice. The design of products, environments, and systems related to forest fire fighting is one critical area for research and project development. In every case research and projects are conducted in close collaboration with relevant MNR experts in the field.

Thomas Garvey is Associate Professor and Director of the School of Industrial Design at Carleton University. His research interests include design for extreme and minimal environments and in recent years he has supervised a wide range of new products and equipment redesigns for initial attack crews. Currently plans are being made to conduct research into the systems level design of hose processing facilities, SRO rooms, and mobile bases.

Contact: (613-520-5674)

University of Toronto

The Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto offers traditional M.Sc.F. and Ph.D. graduate research programs and a 16 month professional Masters in Forest Conservation (MFC) program in which students could opt for one or two fire courses, an internship, and a major project focused on fire management. General admissions information is available at:

Dave Martell is a Professor in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto. His research interests include the application of operational research and information
technology to fire and forest management and the development of decision support systems for fire and forest managers. His current research projects include integrated fire/forest management planning, detection planning, initial attack resource deployment, and large fire management. He is seeking MFC and M.Sc.F. students with a background in quantitative methods in forestry, geography, computer science, or mathematical modelling. He can be contacted by email to or by telephone (416 978-6960).

Mike Wotton is a research scientist with the Canadian Forest Service but works out of the University of Toronto as an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Forestry. His research focuses on the development of fuel moisture, fire occurrence and fire behaviour models for the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System. Some current research projects involve the development of lightning fire occurrence prediction models, incorporating stand closure, fuel type and other factors into existing Canadian fuel moisture models, modeling the probability of ignition and surface fire spread in FBP system fuel types. He would be glad to talk with those interested in graduate work focused on this side of physical fire science. Email
Phone: (416) 978-5251.

York University

York University's Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) offers bachelor's, master's, and PhD programs in environmental studies. FES takes an interdisciplinary approach to environmental studies and includes faculty from natural sciences, social sciences, and the humanities working on climate change, planning, economics, health, and other fields. In the 2-year (6-term) Master's of Environmental Studies (MES) program, students can develop an individualized plan of study, acquire field experience as researchers or in organizations, and prepare a Major Research Paper or Project (MRP). See for program information.

Justin Podur is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) at York University. His research interests include landscape fire modeling, forest fire weather and climate change, and landscape ecology. Current research projects include large forest fire growth and suppression using simulation models, using satellite data to model forest fire 'spread events' for fire growth modeling, and developing future scenarios for area burned by forest fires under climate change. He teaches landscape ecology and ecological restoration at York's FES and is seeking master's students for the MES program with backgrounds in ecology, forestry, geography, computing, or others. Email: Ph: 416-736-5252x20742

Other Graduate Research and Education Opportunities

The graduate education and research opportunities outlined above reflect our own personal research interests and are not nor are they intended to be comprehensive. There are for example, many forest ecologists affiliated with universities in Ontario and other provinces, some of whom study fire and its impact on forest ecosystems. Although we do not know all the players involved we will endeavour to refer those interested in pursuing fire-related research and education opportunities in other disciplines (e.g., forest biology, engineering, mathematical and computing sciences, and the social sciences) to colleagues that might be of assistance to them.

Thomas Garvey, Dave Martell, Justin Podur & Mike Wotton June 23, 2008