New advisors share critical wildfire knowledge – forest research and service

Reposted from UC ANR news

UC ANR will hire more fire advisors to address the growing threat to California communities.

Bringing additional expertise to the state, the California University of Agriculture and Natural Resources continues to hire fire advisors to help communities prepare for the most devastating climate-fueled threats.

As California grapples with drought and the constant threat of wildfires, three highly skilled UC Cooperative Extension consultants have joined the organization since early May: Luca Carmignani, serving Los Angeles and Orange counties; Barb Satink Wolfson, serving Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties; and Tory serving Norville, Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties.

These areas – as well as others recently added in the fields of agriculture and natural resources – are part of California’s commitment, as reflected in the state budget, to improve the lives of residents in the face of climate change.

The announcement of two additional fire advisors in the coming weeks will expand the knowledge and practical advice UC ANR academics share on a variety of topics including fire prevention, fire ecology, prescribed fire, wildfire research, forest and wildlife management, and climate. Change results. Together they form a formidable team of firefighters.

Although their specialty areas vary, all New Fire Advisors are committed to helping residents and community groups across California become more fire aware, adaptive and resilient. Californians share useful information on how to prepare homes, landscapes and properties for wildfires.

Luca Carmignani

Luca Carmignani joined UCCE on May 2 as a fire consultant for Orange and Los Angeles counties. His research interests include image analysis, computer programming and scientific information.

Before joining UC ANR, Carmignani was a postdoctoral researcher at the Berkeley Fire Research Laboratory at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on fire and combustion applications, from wildland fires to the flammability of materials.

He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Sciences from the joint doctoral program between UC San Diego and San Diego State University, and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Pisa, Italy.

Carmignani is based at the South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine and can be reached at and (949) 237-2956. Follow him on Twitter. @l_carmignani.

Barb Satink Wolfson

Barb Satink Wolfson started June 30 as the UC Cooperative Extension Fire Advisor for Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties.

Her primary responsibilities include developing wildland fire-related research and delivery for the Central Coast region, building trust, strong partnerships and collaborative relationships within both professional and non-professional communities.

Satink Wolfson earned her BS and MS in Forestry from Northern Arizona University, and brings more than 20 years of fire research and outreach experience in Arizona to UC ANR. Her favorite job, however, was working as a backcountry ranger in Yosemite National Park when she was an undergraduate.

In her new work, Satink Volson hopes to address some of the questions behind the use of prescribed fire in different ecosystems (such as coastal plains and oak forests) and help all Central Coast communities build wildland fire resilience for their residents. Safely in fire-prone landscapes.

Satink Wolfson at the UCCE office in Hollister can be reached at

Tori Norville

Tori Norville started Aug. 1 as the new UC Union Extension fire advisor for Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties.

In this capacity, Norville works with residents and organizations at the wildland-urban interface to promote and develop fire-adapted communities. She strives to provide education and outreach on the landscape about homesteading, shelterbelts, and the importance of forest and fuel management.

While pursuing her undergraduate degree in forestry and natural resources at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Norville became interested in “disruptive ecology” — how conditions like disease, insects and fire affect landscapes and habitats.

“Most of the forest health problems we see stem from a lack of disturbance, which has traditionally been fire,” Norville said.

Her understanding of fire and its effects comes from her master’s degree in forestry science (also at Cal Poly SLO) as well as seven years with CAL FIRE at the Jackson Demonstration State Forest in Mendocino County. She worked as a registered professional forester for her timber sales program and then for the research and demonstration program.

Norville’s first-hand experiences from the past few fire seasons have helped shape her goals and approach. She hopes to “work holistically with disturbances”—specifically fire—on landscapes where healthy forests and ecosystems can adapt and cope, and also explore fuel reduction projects and the environmental and social aspects of prescribed fire.

“Hopefully, I’ll start to change the perception of fire from something we fear to something we respect,” she said.

Norville, who is based at the UCCE office in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, can be reached at


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