Claire Belcher is a Senior Lecturer in Earth System Science at the University of Exeter. As a self-confessed fire starter she uses experiments to understand the role that wildfires play in maintaining the natural balance that makes our planet habitable.
We typically view wildfires as part of the destructive face of nature yet often forget that human harnessing of fire has strongly influenced our social development and success as a species. In a microcosm, what fire has done for human beings, wildfires also do for our planet. Claire’s research seeks to understand how evolutionary innovations in our ecosystems have allowed plants and fire to exist on our planet in relative equilibrium. She is currently the leader of a €1.52 million EU European Research Council funded team. Her approach to studying wildfires is described in her recently published edited book “Fire Phenomena and the Earth System, an Interdisciplinary Guide to Fire Science”. As a recent awardee of the European Commission’s Marie Curie Prize for her work in science communication she says “scientific research isn’t worth anything if it isn’t communicated”.