Browsing: Fire

If you’ve ever used a device that picks up signals over the air, you know that sometimes you just can’t get the signal to come in clearly. You point the device every which way, move it all around the room, do a little dance, but nothing seems to work. There doesn’t seem to be any explanation. Maybe it’s sunspots, who knows? While that’s an annoyance for us, sometimes people’s lives depend on that signal getting through. People like firefighters. One of my group’s more recent projects has been to help make sure that their signals get through, wherever they are. Like many people, I’m in awe of what firefighters do. With seemingly little regard for their own safety, they routinely…

I’m a dragon wrangler. While that might sound like something straight out of Harry Potter or Game of Thrones, this isn’t fantasy, this is serious science. As a dragon wrangler, or more colloquially, a fire researcher, my job is to help protect people and property from fire’s devastating effects. My area of expertise is wildfires, and in particular wildfires that threaten whole communities, which we call Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) fires. In the U.S. alone there are more than 80,000 wildfires every year. About 2 to 3 percent of those fires threaten populated areas, putting 46 million structures and over 120 million people at risk. And every year, we lose about 3,000 homes to these kinds of fires. The “Beast” wildfire…

Today in Taking Measure we asked Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recipient Tara Lovestead a few questions about her life and work. Tara was recognized for her extensive application of new methods to rapidly and inexpensively detect trace levels of chemicals in vapors, enabling advances in homeland security, forensics, and food safety. What brought you to NIST? After I finished my bachelor’s in nutrition at Virginia Tech, I attended The University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder for both my master’s and Ph.D. in chemical engineering. My research focused on ultraviolet (UV) light-curable cross-linking polymer kinetics — a fancy way of saying I studied things like how dental fillings harden under UV light. Upon finishing my Ph.D.,…

Earlier this week at NIST, we brought together a diverse group of people who will have a profound influence on the future of our cities and the services provided to their citizens. These 300 leaders from government, industry, and academia came to attend an event called the Global City Team Challenge (GCTC) Tech Jam. The GCTC program, launched in 2014 by NIST with a number of partners from the federal government and industry, is one way that NIST is supporting the Administration’s Smart City Initiative announced last September. Two of the questions I get most often when I mention this topic are: What is a “smart city”? And why is NIST involved? I’ll offer my perspective, and I encourage you…