Philip Higuera

Dr. Philip Higuera is an associate professor in the Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences at the University of Montana where he leads the PaleoEcology and Fire Ecology Lab. As an expert on forestry, wildfires, fire ecology and climate change, he can provide insight on how wildfires have grown in strength with climate change and how forest ecosystems are adapting.

At the PaleoEcology and Fire Ecology Lab, Higuera studies forests across western North America and researches how fire activity has responded to climate change, both in our recent past and throughout history. His work also examines how forest ecosystems have reacted in turn to these drastic changes. In 2018, he was named as a “highly cited scientist” by Clarivate Analytics for papers published over the last decade. 

Higuera has a PhD in Forest Ecology from the University of Washington in Seattle, a Masters in Forest Ecology from University of Washington in Seattle, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Environmental Studies and Geology from Middlebury College.

His work focuses largely on the Rocky Mountains range but extends as far as Alaska.

Location: Missoula, MT

Expertise Field: Forestry, wildfires, fire ecology, climate change

Contact information:


Phone: 406-599-8908

Twitter: @PhilipHiguera

Listen to Philip Higuera on MTPR:

Last updated September 28, 2020

Ernesto Alvarado

Dr. Ernesto Alvarado is a research associate professor of wildland fire sciences in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences at the University of Washington. He’s an expert on fire ecology and management and can provide insight on the role climate change plays in wildfires and what we should do to better manage forests.

Alvarado’s research focuses on forests in Alaska and the western and southeast United States, in addition to his international work in Brazil, Mexico and Bolivia. 

Topics of study include fire behavior, biomass assessment, combustion modeling, fire ecology, fire management, prescribed fire, fires and climate change, landscape ecology, smoke emissions, and the impacts of smoke on public health.

He’s also looked into traditional fire use and forest management by indigenous communities

At the University of Washington, Alvarado teaches courses on wildland fire management, fire ecology, and the role of culture and place in natural resource stewardship in the Yakama Nation. He also leads graduate seminars on forest dynamics and disturbances and traditional ecological knowledge and fire use. 

Alvarado is also a member of the Fire and Environmental Research Applications Research Team of the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory in Seattle.

Location: Seattle, WA

Expertise Field: Forest fire ecology, wildfires, fire management, prescribed fire, smoke emissions, climate change, forestry

Contact information:


Phone: 206-616-6920

Listen to Ernesto Alvarado on KING5 Seattle:

Last updated August 27, 2020

Nalini Nadkarni

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, also known as “the Queen of the Forest Canopy,” is a Professor of Biology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where she directs the Center for Science and Mathematics Education. Her forest ecology research focuses on how biodiversity, forests, and the stability of world climate interact. With nearly 30 years of experience teaching public engagement with science for all parts of society, she also holds an adjunct professorship at the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Science in Seattle. In 2001, Nadkarni received the Guggenheim Fellowship for her work in Plant Sciences.

In 2005, she co-founded the Sustainability in Prisons Program, bringing science lectures and hands-on conservation projects to incarcerated adults in Washington State, Utah, and around the country. In 2009, she created the Research Ambassador Program, which recruits and trains other scientists to carry out engagement with science and conservation to underserved public audiences around the country.

Her latest project, to bring nature imagery to inmates in solitary confinement to reduce stress and violence, was recognized by TIME Magazine as “one of the “Best Ideas in 2014”. Nadkarni has published over 100 scientific articles, three scholarly books, and three children’s books.

Dr. Nadkarni has been featured in television documentaries, including Bill Nye the Science Guy and National Geographic, and her work has appeared in publications such as Natural History and the New York Times.

Nalini Nadkarni
Professor of Biology, the University of Utah

Areas of Expertise: Forest Ecology, Rainforest Conservation, Science Education, Inmate Education and Rehabilitation, Prison Reform

Location: Salt Lake City, UT

Contact Information:
Phone: 801-581-4161

Featured on American Public Media’s The Promised Land: “Meeting the Queen of the Canopy”

Added February 2015