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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Sara S. McAllister

Research Mechanical Engineer
5775 Highway 10 West
United States

Phone: 406-329-4800
Fax: 406-329-4877
Contact Sara S. McAllister

Current Research

My current research has focused on understanding the ignition behavior of woody material, including ignition criteria and the effect of fuel and environment variables.

Research Interests

My research interests include understanding fundamental combustion and heat transfer processes related to the spread of wildfires.  In particular, I have two main research projects.  The first is to better understand the ignition process in both live and dead fuels subject to different forms of heat transfer.  The second is to examine how the burning behavior of a fuel bed is affected by its characteristics and environmental conditions.

Past Research

In the past, I've examined the ignition criteria of wood for variations with external heat flux, oxidizer flow velocity, and moisture content. I have also examined the effect of ambient pressure and oxygen concentration on the ignition behavior of polymers.

Why This Research is Important

This research is important because new models and understanding of fire spread cannot be attained without a clearer picture of the underlying processes. In particular, these fundamentals are vital to understand and predict crown fire behavior. Crown fires can be both dangerous and damaging, and no satisfactory tool exists to explain and predict them. A better understanding of crown fires can thus benefit everyone at all levels in the wildfire community.


  • University of Nevada, Reno, B.S. Mechanical Engineering 2004
  • University of California, Berkeley, M.S. Mechanical Engineering 2006
  • University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering 2008

Professional Organizations

  • International Association of Wildland Fire (2013 - Current)
  • International Association of Fire Safety Science (2011 - Current)
  • Combustion Institute (2007 - Current)

Awards & Recognition

  • International Association of Wildland Fire Early Career Award, 2019
    This award is to recognize a promising early-career professional who has demonstrated outstanding ability in any field of wildland fire science.

Featured Publications & Products


Last updated on : 07/01/2020