Adam Watts, Ph.D., serves as a Assistant Professor of Fire Ecology and Deputy Director of the Climate, Ecosystem and Fire Applications (CEFA) program at DRI and is focused on wildfire prediction and monitoring, including applications for unmanned autonomous systems (commonly known as drones).
What do you study?
My research interests include fire ecology and fire science; interactive effects of ecosystem processes and disturbance on landscapes; ecological restoration; and the development of technology such as investigating unmanned aircraft systems for wildland firefighter situational awareness, fire detection and monitoring, and post-fire mapping and rehabilitation monitoring.
Why did you come to DRI?
As DRI’s first and only fire ecologist, I was excited to work with DRI’s broad spectrum of environmental scientists an engage on the Institute’s many multidisciplinary projects.
I came to DRI because of the collaborative and entrepreneurial culture. There is a tremendous number of very bright people here and the support for a variety of research projects covering all aspects of environmental science is remarkable.
What are you currently working on?
My current and recent projects include investigating whether repeated fires in wetlands during drought could change fire return intervals in these rarely-burned ecosystems; factors influencing smoldering combustion in organic soils; and the detection of ecological “footprints” in patterned landscapes.
I am also working on UAS (unmanned aerial systems) applications for remote sensing and fire research, and other DRI research programs and projects as well.
Where did you work/study prior to coming to DRI?
Prior to joining the faculty at DRI, I studied and worked at University of Florida, where I coordinated a multidisciplinary program to develop handheld, amphibious UAS for surveys of levees, invasive plant-control programs, and wildlife populations that continues to enjoy success. I has also worked as an alligator biologist, served as an agroforestry extensionist with the Peace Corps in Guinea, and was a volunteer firefighter with Federal wildland firefighter certification.