Projects and Events

Students and faculty across campus are working with community members, organizations and businesses on all aspects of fire impacts.

Fire and Natural Systems

Fire and Social Systems

Fire and Technology

Fire and Economics

Fire Working Groups

Fire and Natural Systems

gps map printoutBurn Severity Analysis - A new metric to estimate burn severity from remote sensing data was applied to the 2017 North Bay Fires, providing a comparison for models used in CalFire’s Watershed Emergency Response Team reports.

Partners: David Ackerly UC Berkeley

Faculty: Matt Clark (Center for Geospatial Analysis)

sudden oak death study areaThe Role of Pre and Postfire Fuel Loads as a Component of Wildfire Severity in Sudden Oak Death Infected Oak Woodlands.

Students: Manuel Hernandez, Susan Carter, Maria Martinez, Mikayla Mesker, Keenan Raleigh, Mikala Tator

Faculty: Lisa Patrick Bentley(Biology)





Soil collection at Crane Creek Regional Park. Changes in Soil Porewater Chemistry Due to Fire Damaged Soil

Students: Soundarya Neriyanuri, Lauren Cleveland, Jose Ochoa, Haley Provencher

Partner: Pepperwood Preserve, Crane Creek National Park






student helps with fire workEffects of the 2017 North Bay Fires on Lizards - Lizard abundance increased after fires at the Pepperwood Preserve.

Students: Conner Cimmiyotti, Alex Moore, Julie Wittmann

Partner: Pepperwood Preserve

Faculty: Derek Girman (Biology)




GIS mapSources of Acorns Used in Post-Fire Restoration Efforts – This GIS mapping project plotted the location of acorn collections available for oak restoration efforts.

Students: Beth Kahrer, Mariana Palacio, Taryn Carr

Partner: Re-Oaking Coalition, California Native Plant Society, Betty White

Faculty: Matt Clark (Geography, Environment and Planning), Lisa Bentley (Biology)


Effects of Fire on White Oaks – Burnt and unburnt white oaks had similar tree canopies and soil moisture during the spring following the fires.

Students: Trinnah Limon, Emily Ziegler, Phillip Shamlian, Harry Gonzales, Kimberlee Gutierrez

Partner: Sonoma County Regional Parks

Faculty: Martha Shott (Math and Statistics), Melina Kozanitas (Biology)

Genetics of Oaks Used in Post-Fire Restoration Activities – Variation in seedling growth suggest that genetics may be an important factor to consider in oak regeneration.  

Students: Daniel Remeta and Physiological Ecology class  

Partner: Re-Oaking Coalition, California Native Plant Society, Betty Young

Faculty: Lisa Bentley (Biology)


Assessment of Post-Fire Soils – Plants grew better in burned than unburned soils.

Students: Hannah Keegan, Sommer Kluge, Spencer hall, Wendel Simpson

Partner: Sonoma County Regional Parks

Faculty: Martha Shott (Math and Statistics), Melina Kozanitas (Biology)



Fire and Oak Disease – Half of the sites in a 200 plot Sudden Oak Death (SOD) monitoring grid were burned in the North Bay fires. We are resurveying the grid to determine if pre-fire SOD severity is correlated with fire severity and studying how the fires affect SOD spread.

Students: Johanna Peelen, Susan Carter, Mikala Tator, Emily Rosa, Serina Cabrera, Jocelyn Keller, Sierra Sluxiewicz, Avery Wilson, Marcus Benton

Faculty: Melina Kozanitas (Biology), Nathan Rank (Biology), Lisa Bentley (Biology)


Post-Fire Vegetation Assessments – Post-fire monitoring at Crane Creek Regional Park revealed that 80% of the study area was lightly burned and 20% was scorched. The data are part of a county-wide effort to document fire impacts on natural systems.

Students: Glenda Chicas, Taylor Flores, Marysia Kowalczyk and Climate Change and Society class

Partner: Sonoma County Regional Parks, Pepperwood Preserve

Faculty: Justine Law (Hutchins School)


Fire History of SSU’s Fairfield Osborn Preserve - Low soil charcoal and lack of fire scarring in a dendrochronology study suggest that fire has not occurred at this site in the last 125 years.

Students: Kyle Towers, Pasha Abooamery, Emma Anthony, Gracie Lock, Mark Castro, Lauren James, Devin Connor, Chris Cunningham, Quinten Rodriguez, David Price, Justin Reacer

Partners: Center for Environmental Inquiry: Fairfield Osborn Preserve

Faculty: Michelle Goman (Geography, Environmental and Planning)

Fire and Social Systems

Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center

Green Music Center Community Healing Task Force - The Community Healing Task Force of the GMC Board of Advisors is developing a large benefit concert and related storytelling event at the Green Music Center during the summer of 2018.

Contact: Becky Cale (Green Music Center)


Sarah Fishback with poster presentation

The Northern California Wildfires: Perspectives from Families of Children with Disabilities 

Faculty: Elizabeth McAdams Ducy (Educational Leadership and Special Education), Ph.D., Sarah Fishback, & Laura M. Stough, Ph.D.

Partners: Texas A&M University


Mapping Project The Santa Rosa Neighborhood Heritage Mapping Project

 Students - Anthropology, Computer Science, and Geography students

 Faculty - Margie Purser (Anthropology)






a person with an N95 mask with two horsesThe Sonoma County Equestrian Community’s Reaction to Wildfires: an Ethnographic Study

Student: Holly Casey Hay

Faculty: Jeff Baldwin (Geography, Environment, and Planning)


Sonoma County Strong - WeakGiving to the "All-American Family": the Politics of Charitable Giving After the Santa Rosa/ Paradise Wildfires 

Students: Alexandria Johnson, Leandra Barcenas, Sadie Torres, Angela Vaquerano

Faculty: Benjamin Smith (Human Development)


Keegon Donely helps his communitySonoma State Student Helps His Fire Stricken Community - Graduating senior from the Computer Science Department, Keegan Donley, assisted evacuees by distributing supples, teaching others how to camp outside, and worked on a team to develop a website for Sonoma County Rises. 



Function of signs in post-disaster Santa Rosa – Post-fire signs, which were most common on the perimeter of burned areas and in shopping centers, overwhelmingly thanked first responders and reinforced community relationships. Signs and Images

Students: Hannah Bowman and Andrew Estigoy

Faculty: Margie Purser (Anthropology)

dear sonoma students

Dear Sonoma Journal - Our community literary journal is a collection of poetry, narratives, photography, and artwork documenting the October fires. The journal was created to address the mid to long-term impacts of the fires. 

Students: English students and community members

Partners: SSU Writing Center, University Elementary at La Fiesta, and members of greater Sonoma County community. All proceeds go to Community Foundation Sonoma County's Resilience Fund. To purchase:

Faculty: Emily Seder (English)

Archaeological Sites Affected by October 2017 Fires – The Anthropological Studies Center is collaborating with CalFire to assess damage to cultural resources that occurred during firefighting activities, and to conduct surveys for projects designed to minimize the threat of future fires.

Students: Cultural Resource Management and Fire Response Interns, Master’s degrees

Partners: CalFire, Caltrans, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), California State Parks, and Native American tribes

Faculty: Thomas Whitley (Anthropological Studies Center)

Hope Ablaze: an Outdoor Performance at SSU’s Fairfield Osborn Preserve – This outdoor performance was created by students in the liberal and performing arts as an exploration of climate change and its impact on our environment and daily lives. Hope Ablaze Video

Student Performers: Serina Cabrera, Jocelyn Keller, Sierra Sluxiewicz, Avery Wilson, Marcus Benton

Partner: Center for Environmental Inquiry

>Faculty: Justine Law (Hutchins School), Alexis McNab (Theatre Arts & Dance)

Wildland-Urban Interface Safety – A variety of fire-safety prescriptions were recommended to enhance safety at SSU preserve buildings.

Students: Mike Stone and Mineaux Gray

Partner: SSU Fairfield Osborn Preserve

Instructor: Suzanne DeCoursey (Center for Environmental Inquiry)

Oral Histories of the October 2017 Fires – This project documents the experiences of fire survivors, and includes an online GIS story map for Coffey Park that creates an interactive experience for others to share these experiences. Coffey Strong: ArcGIS Story Map

Students: GEP 389 - Advanced GIS / GEP 317 Emma Forester, Kathleen Funke-Spicher, Maxwell Gilbert, Jake Letofsky, Ryan Magowan, Emily Rosa, Rose L. Snyder

Partners: Coffey Strong, Sonoma County Museum, Listening for Change

>Faculty: Matt Clark (Center for Geospatial Analysis), Margie Purser (Anthropology), Thomas Whitley (Anthropological Studies Center)

Image result for school counselor

After the Fires School Survey – A survey of K-12 school counselors revealed  how schools made decisions during the fires and documented the perceived stressors and reactions of students, families and teachers as they return to school.

Partners: Sonoma County K-12 schools

Faculty: Maureen Buckley (Counseling)


Image result for trauma resources

Fire Trauma Resources – A list of resources was compiled for use by children and families after the fires

Students: lower division and graduates in Early Childhood Studies

Faculty: Christina De Korsak (Early Childhood Studies)


Sacramento State Students Volunteer in Relief Effort

Students: Sacramento State Alternative Spring Break

Partners: Restorative Resources, Habitat of Humanity, Charles M. Schulz Museum, Sonoma Ecology Center, and Redwood Empire Food Bank.



Latino Health Forum Poster

Latino Health Forum: Fire and Ice

Students: Nursing and CALS majors

Partners: Latino Health Forum



Fire and Technology

Locating device for emergency personnel

Drone Locating Device for Emergency Personnel – This portable device can detect the presence of drones and direct the user to the person controlling the drone to remove obstacles to emergency-response helicopters. Vargas and Roohian 2018

Students: Michael Vargas and Kooi Roohian

Partner: Keysight Technologies, Pocket Radar

Faculty: Brendan Hammel-Bissell (Engineering Science)


Energy Harvesting Fire Sensors for Remote Locations – Development of power-harvesting fire sensor networks that automatically notify users of extreme temperature changes.  

Students: Independent Research Projects

Faculty: Farid Farahmand (Engineering Science)


Fire and Economics

Survey and Industry Working Group on the Effects of North Coast Fires on the Wine Industry – A survey of more than 200 vineyard and winery stakeholders across Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma Counties to assess the extent of damage to the region's wineries and vineyards. Working

Partners: California Wine Institute, California Association of Winegrape Growers, faculty from the Department of Viticulture and Enology at the University of California, Davis

Faculty: Honore Comfort (Wine Business Institute), Ray Johnson (Wine Business Institute)

Honore Comfort

Strategic Preparedness for Human-Created Crisis and Natural Disaster in the Wine Industry.

Student: Deanna Brown

Partner: Wine Business Institute

Faculty: Armand Gilinsky, Judith Ford (Business Administration)


Fire Working Groups


NomaCares – Sonoma State raised $150K+ in cash and in-kind donations from 450+ donors to provide financial support to 107 students, staff and faculty impacted by the North Bay fires. An additional $150K grant from the North Bay Relief Fund made counseling services possible.

Partners: Redwood Credit Union, The Press Democrat, Senator Mike McGuire

SSU Leadership: Dr. Judy Sakaki (President)