DroneFire Project Team

Carl Seielstad, Professor & Project Leader

Carl Seielstad
Dr. Seielstad is our project leader and a fire scientist for the National Center for Landscape Fire Analysis (FireCenter) in the College of Forestry and Conservation at The University of Montana- Missoula, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Forest Management. His research focuses on fundamental biomass measurements using laser scanning.  Applications for his research include forest inventories, carbon assessments, fire behavior models, and fire effects. 

LLoyd Queen, Professor & FireCenter Director

Lloyd Queen
Dr. Queen is the FireCenter Director and a Professor of Remote Sensing in the Department of Forest Management at UM. His work on the DroneFire project will develop and implement thermal infrared imaging capability.  That effort will focus on stand-to-plot scale assessments of fire radiative energy using hi-resolution drone imagery as well as image fusion techniques that link optical/video data with thermal datasets.

Jim Riddering, Professor & Lead Pilot

Jim Riddering
Dr. Riddering is a remote sensing scientist and lead pilot on the DroneFire project. He currently holds an Adjunct Research Professor position in the College of Forestry and Conservation and is the Remote Sensing Program Manager in the National Center for Landscape Fire Analysis. He has held a private pilot license (SEL) since April 2000.

Dave Affleck, Professor

Dave Affleck
Dr. Affleck is an Associate Professor in the College of Forestry & Conservation. As a biometrician, his primary interests in this project are the design of drone data collection strategies for resource assessment, as well as the development of analytical methods for relating drone-derived data products to the forest and environmental attributes that inform management.

Jennifer Fowler, AASO Director & Pilot

Jennifer Fowler
Jennifer Fowler is director of the University of Montana’s Autonomous Aerial Systems Office. Her extensive field research experience includes a wide variety of commercial atmospheric instrumentation and remote-sensing platforms having participated in multiple balloon launches, both tethered and high altitude, to evaluate new airborne payloads for high altitude, tether, and UAS systems. Her particular research interests lie in acquisition of higher resolution atmospheric profile data and its impact on forecast accuracy. Fowler's role in the project is evaluating purchases of potential UM UAS, pilot training and certification, client development, and mission criteria for weather measurements.

Jaylene Naylor, AASO Assistant Director

Jaylene Naylor
Jaylene Naylor is the Assistant Director of the Autonomous Aerial Systems Office and Computing Specialist/Lab Supervisor and Instructor for the Department of Physics and Astronomy.  Jaylene’s involvement in the DroneFire project includes evaluation of UM UAS purchases, vendor relations and website development.

Valentijn Hoff, GIS Analyst & Remote Pilot

Valentijn Hoff
Valentijn Hoff is a GIS analyst at the National Center for Landscape Fire Analysis, at the University of Montana.  After fighting and lighting a lot of fires in the southeastern United States, he started a career in GIS at the government of Oconee County, in South Carolina.  Since 2008 he has been helping wildland fire managers and researchers with data collection, spatial analysis and database development here in Missoula.  In the summer he works on wildfires across the country, on Incident Management Teams and Wildland Fire Modules as a field observer and a GIS specialist.  He has a BS in Forest Management from Clemson University and a MS in Forestry from The University of Montana.

Tim Wallace, Image Analyst & Pilot

Tim Wallace
Tim Wallace is a GIS/remote sensing image analyst and pilot at the FireCenter. Tim is primarily interested in fire research utilizing remote sensing/LiDAR and burn operations in conjunction with drone platforms.

Natasha Bartha, Remote Sensing Analyst

Natasha Bartha

Natasha Bartha received a BS in Resource Conservation with Mountain Studies and Wildland Fire Sciences & Management from the University of Montana in May 2016. At DroneFire, she analyzes fuel and wildfire remote sensing data. She is also interested in the planning process for wildfires and prescribed burns.

Chris Moran, PhD Student

Chris Moran
Chris Moran is working with Dr. Seielstad on a PhD degree studying the roles of LiDAR in forest fuels management. Chris is interested in using drones as LiDAR research and developmental platforms to better study fuels characterization and fire behavior.

George Gaines, PhD Student

George Gaines

George earned a B.S. in Forest Resource Management and a GIST Certificate from the University of Montana in 2014. After a year in a leadership development role in private forest industry on the west slope of the Cascade Range, he returned to Missoula to pursue a doctorate degree in forest biometrics with Dr. Affleck. George’s interests include the use of drones as sampling tools for forest resource assessment; multi-source remote-sensing based approaches to forest volume, biomass, and carbon inventory; and techniques for forest structural characteristic modeling.

Philip Williams, MS Student & Remote Pilot

Philip Williams

Philip Williams earned his BS with High Honors in Forestry with minors in Ecological Restoration and Wildland Fire Sciences & Management from the University of Montana in May 2016. Philip is currently pursuing an MS in Forestry degree as a FireCenter research assistant with Dr. Queen, and earned a GIS Certificate in December 2016 and his FAA Remote Pilot Certificate in April 2017. He designed and maintains the project website and Instagram profile and assists both the FireCenter and the Autonomous Aerial Systems Office. His work primarily deals with the implementation of drones (UASs) as scientific instruments and usable fire management tools, and his MS project involves mapping vegetation with UASs. Philip also enjoys hiking, biking, writing, and playing the piano.

Matt Cunningham, MS Student & Remote Pilot

Matthew Cunningham
Matthew Cunningham earned a B.A. in Archaeological Anthropology from the University of Montana in May of 2013. Matthew has spent the past 11 years working for various Federal agencies in many aspects of the wildland fire community. He is beginning an MS in Forestry degree with Dr. Seielstad in the fall of 2017. Matthew’s primary interest in the use of UAS platforms in fire is to lessen the risk involved with the various fire missions that are currently flown with manned aircraft.

Peter Davis, MS Student

Peter Davis
Peter Davis earned his master's in the Systems Ecology program, and studied with Dr. Maury Valett in the Valett Aquatic Ecosystem Ecology Lab. Peter also worked at the FireCenter as a Research Technician for the DroneFire program. His role at the Firecenter included drone flight parameter optimization and data processing. Peter’s main research interests lie in using drone-acquired data for riverine complexity quantification and analysis.