KU Field Station

Researchers in vest and hard hats using equipment to monitor prescribed burn

Understanding fire behavior

Haiyang Chao, KU professor of aerospace engineering (right foreground), and his graduate students study the use of drones in understanding the behavior of prescribed fires and wildfires. In several small burns at the Field Station, they monitored metrics such as fire front location and the rate of fire spread.

The 2021 season was dynamic. Research crews found creative ways to maintain research continuity in a time still surrounded by an abundance of caution. The number of active research projects at the Field Station varies annually and includes many long-term studies, some requiring extensive infrastructure; this year 35 projects were active. In addition, a team of research technicians from the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), of which the Field Station is part, continued regular visits to monitor species and atmospheric conditions.

As in 2020, the scheduling of KU staff retreats at the Field Station’s Armitage Center was on hold. The public trail system and the Native Medicinal Plant Garden remained open and provided a safe option for visitor activity as the pandemic situation continues.