Kit O’Connor is a Research Ecologist with the Wildfire Risk Management Science Team, housed in the Human Dimensions Program at the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. Kit’s primary research interest is in bridging the human and ecosystem dimensions of fire management; including the use of pre-fire planning and operational decision support analytics to promote ecosystem restoration and resilience, safe and effective suppression response, and sustainable forest and fire management systems.
Kit is one of the analytics leads for the National Risk Management Assistance Program for large wildfire management and is a core member of the Potential Operational Delineations (PODs) strategic fire planning team currently working with more than 60 national forests, three states, and numerous other public, private, and tribal land managers to develop and implement sustainable fire management plans. Specific references to his research are included in two line items of the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocating $100M for expanded implementation of the PODs framework and $500M to identify and reinforce Potential Control Locations. Kit has a B.S. in Entomology from Penn State University, an M.S. in Biology from The University of Quebec at Montreal, and a Ph.D. in Natural Resource Management from The University of Arizona. He is recipient of the 2019 and 2021 Rocky Mountain Research Station Science Delivery Awards and the 2020 USFS Deputy Chief’s Award for Science Delivery. Kit lives in Missoula, Montana where he enjoys trail running, mountain biking, and family campouts with his wife, daughters, and three dogs.