US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Matt in Chile

Matthew P. Thompson

Research Forester
240 W Prospect Rd
Fort Collins
United States

Phone: 970-498-1302
Contact Matthew P. Thompson

Current Research

risk, decision, and systems analysis; wildland fire management; forest management.

Research Interests

Application of principles from systems engineering, industrial engineering, risk analysis, operations research, economics, and decision-making under uncertainty to complex resource management with economic and environmental objectives. With future work I hope to better incorporate spatiotemporal dynamics into integrated risk assessment, facilitate the application of comparative risk assessment frameworks to inform strategic planning efforts, better understand the role of human factors and incentives in decision-making, improve our ability to model the effectiveness of suppression resources, and continue to systematically explore methods for addressing uncertainty.

Past Research

My past research has focused on the integration of systems and industrial engineering with economics and other disciplines to support natural resource management and decision making.

Why This Research is Important

The spatial, temporal, and social dimensions of wildfire risk are challenging the Forest Service to meet societal needs while maintaining the health of its land base. The confluence of past management practices and philosophies, a changing climate, and increased human development into fire-prone areas result in magnified threat to human and ecological values. There is a continued need for increased analytical rigor, systems thinking, and alignment with risk management principles within the wildland fire management community. Collectively my research seeks to promote enhanced pre-fire planning, development of safer and more effective response strategies, landscape restoration and resource protection, and ultimately to inform and improve decision-making processes, be it related to wildfire management or more broadly to natural resources management with multiple objectives.


  • Stanford University, Certificate Strategic Risk and Decision Making 2017
  • Oregon State University, Ph.D. Forest Engineering 2009
  • Oregon State University, M.S. Forest Management 2008
  • University of California, Berkeley, M.S. Industrial Engineering & Operations Research 2002
  • University of Virginia, B.S. Systems Engineering 2001

Professional Experience

  • Research Forester, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Human Dimensions Program
    2009 - Current

Awards & Recognition

  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, 2016
    The highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers
  • Research & Development Deputy Chief's Early Career Scientist Award, 2013
    Award recognizes scientists at the beginning of their research careers who have demonstrated outstanding capability and exceptional promise for significant future achievement.

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


Assessing Wildfire Risk to Communities and to Natural and Cultural Resources

New wildfire risk assessment methods form the scientific basis for the National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, an effort of federal ...


Modeling COVID-19 Potential in Fire Camps

As a science-based, data-driven agency, the USDA Forest Service regularly conducts risk-based analysis to inform leadership and improve the over ...


Report Offers Framework for Wildfire Risk Assessment and Decision Support

Scientists crafted a framework for wildfire risk assessment and applied the framework to support fire-management decision making processes on mu ...


Risk Analysis Prioritizes Investments in Hazardous Fuels Reduction

Scientists mitigate the adverse impacts of wildland fires


Snag Hazard to Firefighters Persists Long After the Smoke Has Cleared

A new tool developed through collaboration between USDA Forest Service and Oregon State University researchers tracks treefall through time and ...


Last updated on : 01/19/2022