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Climate Change Experts: Wildfire, Smoke and Air Quality

By Kat Kerlin on October 24, 2019 in Environment

The following sources from the University of California, Davis, are available to talk with media about climate change and wildfire, smoke and air quality. 

More UC Davis climate change experts lists are available under the topic areas of atmospheric sciences, water, wildlife, agriculture, energy and transportation, and community resilience.

Air Quality and Wildfire Smoke

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, is professor of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the UC Davis School of Medicine and directs the Environmental Health Sciences Center. She can discuss the potential health impacts of wildfire, smoke and ash, as well as other environmental exposures. Contact:, 530-752-3025, or Karen Finney at UC Davis Health, 916-734-9064,

Anthony Wexler, director of the Air Quality Research Center, can discuss air quality of urban and natural areas, and the impacts of wildfire, emissions and other forms of pollution on air quality. Contact:, 530-754-6558

Kent Pinkerton, professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine and director of Center for Health and the Environment, can discuss the health effects of inhaled environmental air pollutants, including smoke from wildfires. 530-752-8334,   

Keith Bein is an associate professional researcher with the Air Quality Research Center. He can discuss the health effects of air pollution and smoke from wildfires, the role of particles in climate change, air sampling techniques and environmental justice. Contact: (530) 570-2562,

Helene Margolis is an associate adjunct professor with UC Davis Health & School of Medicine. She can discuss the health impacts of climate change and environmental factors, most notably heat and air pollution, on vulnerable populations, especially children and older adults. Contact:

Anita Oberholster is a Cooperative Extension Specialist in Enology. She can discuss the potential impacts of wildfire smoke on wine grapes, or “smoke taint.” Contact: (530) 754-4866,

Thomas Young is a professor of civil and environmental engineering and associate director of the Superfund Research Program. Young and postdoctoral researcher Gabrielle Black have been studying ash samples from the 2017 Sonoma fires for possible pollutants formed by incinerating household chemicals, electronics and other products. Contact: (530) 754-9399,

Forestry and Plants

Mark Schwartz, an ecologist and professor of Environmental Science and Policy, can speak broadly about climate change impacts on forested ecosystems, stressors and management responses.

Hugh Safford is regional ecologist for the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region and holds a research position in the UC Davis Department of Environmental Science and Policy. He can discuss forest management and the impacts of climate change on wildfires and restoration ecology. Contact:

Malcolm North is a forest ecologist with the USDA Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region and an adjunct professor at UC Davis. He can discuss climate change impacts on wildfire and forest management. Contact: 530-902-8135,

Andrew Latimer, a professor of Plant Sciences, can discuss how forests and grasslands respond to climate change, drought and fire. Contact: 530-309-9111,

James Thorne, a research scientist with the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, can discuss the vulnerability of California’s vegetation to climate change over the coming decades. Contact:  530-752-4389,

Susan Harrison, an ecologist and professor of Environmental Science and Policy, can discuss post-fire ecology and climate change’s effects on grassland communities. Contact: 530-752-7110,

Christopher Adlam is a graduate student and lecturer in ecology who works on the revitalization of traditional fire management by tribes in California. He has led classes with Professor Beth Rose Middleton that take students to Native American communities to learn from traditional practitioners and to participate in prescribed burns to manage gathering areas. He is featured in this UC Davis video about this work: Contact:

Burn injury

Tina L. Palmieri is a professor in the Department of Surgery, Director of the Firefighters Burn Institute Burn Center at UC Davis, and Assistant Chief of Burns for Shriners Hospital for Children Northern California. She can discuss the effects, treatment, and outcomes of all types of burn injury, including wildfires, as well as triage, medical response, and prevention of wildfire burns. Contact: 916-453-2050; or Karen Finney at UC Davis Health, 916-734-9064,


This expert's list was updated October 29, 2019 from a previous 2018 version.


Media contact(s)

Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-752-7704, 530-750-9195,