Leda Kobziar headshot

Event Date

Seminar Series: Professor of Wildland Fire Science Leda Kobziar

Please join the UC Davis Institute of the Environment as we host Dr. Leda Kobziar for “Living Microbes in Wildfire Smoke: How, What, Where, and Why Does it Matter?” Kobziar is an associate professor of Wildland Fire Science and director of the Master of Natural Resources program at the University of Idaho.

Wildfires are responsible for the emissions of approximately 1,530 gigagrams of particulate matter (PM) annually, as modeled from 2005-2011 burned area in the western U.S. Smoke from wildland fires has been studied extensively in the context of particulate matter (PM) and public health, and smoke modeling is a major factor in carbon emissions and climate forcing models. Wildfire-induced convective dispersal of PM, including volatilized organic compounds and pyrogenic carbon particles, has been shown to transport aerosolized materials across continents, yet little is known about the role wildland fire smoke plays in transporting living microorganisms, which may have pathogenic, beneficial, or neutral impacts on terrestrial and aquatic environments and human health.

The objective of Kobziar's research is to elucidate the aerosolization and transport of living microorganisms via wildland fire, referred to as “pyroaerobiology” (PAB). PAB integrates microbiology, atmospheric sciences, and fire ecology to explore this dispersal mechanism which has presumably been influencing microbial distribution for millions of years. This seminar will highlight the methodological developments and recent discoveries in PAB derived from unmanned aircraft systems (drones) sampling smoke plumes over high intensity wildland fires. Implications for biodiversity, the atmosphere, and human health will be explored. 

The discussion with Kobziar will take place 4-5 p.m. Wednesday March 1, 2023 in the Multi-Purpose Room in the Student Community Center at 397 Hutchison Drive in Davis. A reception with light refreshments will follow. The event is free and open to all.

About Leda Kobziar

Leda Kobziar earned her Ph.D in Ecosystem Science in 2006 at the University of California at Berkeley and joined the University of Florida's School of Forest Resources and Conservation (SFRC) that year. After nine years at the University of Florida as an associate professor of Wildland Fire Science, she joined the faculty of the University of Idaho’s College of Natural Resources and is currently an associate professor of Wildland Fire Science and director of the Master of Natural Resources program. She draws from her experience working with fire managers and conducting prescribed burns across the US and Europe to promote advancing fire science through real-time observations and measurements on the fireline. Her research in plant community ecology, soil science, and fire ecology supports the maintenance and restoration of natural fire regimes for ecological and social benefits. She’s had the honor of mentoring over 100 graduate students and served as the first female president of the Association for Fire Ecology. She is an associate editor of the peer-reviewed journals, Forest Science, Forests, and Fire Ecology, and served on the Board of Directors of the Association for Fire Ecology from 2008 to 2018. Her recent work has established “pyroaerobiology” as a new line of research to explore the biological role of wildland fire smoke, and has been featured in media outlets around the world.