Students submit

Phil Zylstra

Although the main body of research from the 2003-2010 program has finished, many of the remaining PhD student projects are in the final stages of submitting their thesis. In the past month three students – Claire Johnson, Phil Zylstra and Jennifer Hollis – have submitted. 

By the end of 2010 we had 22 students who had submitted their final thesis, and in the coming months we expect more.  A Fire Note is published on each PhD project as it completes.

Claire Johnson submitted her thesis to La Trobe University. Her research was into how bushfire fighters think about worst-case scenarios – identifying what might go wrong during a fire with the aim of not being surprised by unexpected events and identifying possible actions to mitigate the consequences if the worst happens.

“A failure to consider worst-case scenarios has been implicated in a number of high-profile investigations into Australian bushfire disasters,” Claire says, adding that her findings “indicated that bushfire fighters inconsistently consider worst-case scenarios and identified a number of potential barriers to worst-case scenario thinking. ”

Claire’s work is summarised in Fire Note 77 and she talks about it in a series of video interviews, all available on the Bushfire CRC website

Phil Zylstra’s thesis on Forest Flammability has just been approved without corrections by the University of New South Wales ADFA.  Phil’s forest fire behaviour model is already partly in use by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and the NSW Rural Fire Service. It is used, for example, to develop precision prescriptions for burning under trees in koala habitat, to identify ideal fire frequency to best assist suppression efforts in a diverse range of forests, and to create prescriptions for burning heathland to manage rare flightless birds.

The work of Bushfire CRC PhD scholar Jennifer Hollis at the University of New South Wales at ADFA, on predicting woody fuel consumption was summarised in Fire Note 76.

The ability to accurately predict woody fuel consumption during a fire is important for both forest and fire management. Information on woody fuel consumption in Australian southern eucalypt forest is scant and the predictive capacity of existing models unknown.

Jen’s work evaluated the predictive capacity of five existing models.