Kia ora, my name is Kerryn. I am a Kiwi from Dunedin, New Zealand, and I have recently moved to Birmingham in the United Kingdom to join PyroLife as ESR2. I will be undertaking this research primarily at the University of Birmingham under the supervision of Dr Nick Kettridge and look forward to also working with secondment partners University of Alberta, Canada and Tecnosylva, Spain.
I come from a physical geography background, completing a Master of Science (Geography) at the University of Otago. My thesis was focused on the climate controls on glacier mass balance, and my research interests are closely aligned to climate, weather and atmospheric processes. However, what initially drew me to the PyroLife programme was my experiences as a volunteer rural firefighter for Wakari Rural Fire Force, who respond to wildfires in the Otago region. It was this role that really opened my eyes to the importance of developing (and disseminating) wildfire research, to develop strategies to better prepare how we can live with wildfire, especially considering our changing climate.
I love volunteering in an operational capacity and hope to continue to do so for the rest of my life, but PyroLife has given me the opportunity to turn something I love and something that is really important to me into a life-long career in wildfire management. I am really excited to be part of the PyroLife training network and collaborate with researchers and institutions across a broad range of different disciplines and countries.
My research with PyroLife will focus on capturing variable fuel moisture content in order to develop a comprehensive fire danger rating system for temperate Europe. There is evidence that current predefined fuel types developed for the Boreal forests of Canada do not accurately reflect actual fuel moisture conditions in temperate Europe, which has significant effects on the accuracy of fire behaviour predictions—particularly at the upper level of extremes. Capturing fuel moisture content variability across temperate European fuel types and assessing the impacts of these measurements on fuel behaviour predictions will lay the foundations for a more robust fire danger rating system for temperate Europe, thereby supporting improved wildfire management practices across a wide range of stakeholders.
I am highly motivated by the significance of this project and its potential for widespread value, and I am equally excited to learn from the wide array of experienced and knowledgeable people involved in PyroLife, particularly in areas unfamiliar to me—I look forward to meeting, collaborating and sharing my own research findings with you all in the future!
Written by Kerryn Little