PhD position in fire weather and fire management


This PhD position will seek to characterize the skill in fire weather forecasts for periods between 5 and 15 days (and beyond) using numerical weather prediction (NWP) models. The NWP ensemble outputs for temperature, precipitation, relative humidity and wind speed will be used to calculate the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System indices and other demonstrated metrics of wildland fire activity. Forecast skill will be examined with particular attention paid to the value such predictions have for potentially reducing uncertainty in the information used to support operational fire management decision-making. Machine learning approaches could be used to explore the best use of ensemble forecasts in the highly dynamic domain of wildland fire management.


This project is part of a large NSERC-supported Strategic Network grant focussing on improving wildfire science in Canada (www.canadawildfire.org/nsercnetwork). The successful candidate will have the opportunity to work with university and government researchers, as well as students from throughout Canada who are researching fire ecology, fire behaviour, and fire/forest management.


Applicants require a background (e.g., MSc) in meteorology, physics, computer science, ecology, forestry, or other relevant fields. Funding is available for four years. The ideal applicant will be available to begin in September 2022.


To apply, send a short letter outlining your interests, CV, recent transcripts, and two references to Dr. Mike Wotton: mike.wotton@daniels.utoronto.ca;  and Dr. Mike Flannigan mike.flannigan@ualberta.ca  by April 15, 2022. This PhD could be located at the University of Toronto or the University of Alberta, with an option to spend time at Thompson Rivers University.

Two M.Sc.F. positions in wildfire management at the University of Toronto  

David Martell is seeking two M.Sc.F. students to study wildfire management in the Fire Management Systems Laboratory at the University of Toronto.

The students will study airtanker management, inter-provincial fire suppression resource sharing and related topics. Research on these topics calls for a strong background in quantitative methods (e.g., undergraduate mathematics and statistics courses), software (e.g., Python) and spatial analysis (e.g., GIS software). Practical fire management experience would be a definite asset.


Professor Martell and his students use operations research, management science (OR/MS) and analytics methods to further their understanding of fire management systems and to develop fire management decision support systems that fire managers can use to enhance the performance of their fire management systems.


This project is a part of the NSERC/CANADA Wildfire Strategic Network (www.canadawildfire.org/nsercnetwork), which received an NSERC Strategic Partnership Grant for a five-year period beginning in 2020. The Network's Theme 5, Delivering Innovative Fire Management Solutions, is led by Professor Martell.


To apply, first refer to the guidelines for admission to graduate studies in Forestry at the University of Toronto: https://www.sgs.utoronto.ca/programs/forestry/ and contact researchstream@daniels.utoronto.ca for specific admission information. Before submitting a formal application, prospective candidates should email Professor Martell (david.martell@utoronto.ca) a cover letter describing why they want to study wildfire management, recent transcripts, and two references. Those who want to start their study in the fall of 2022 must apply by April 15.