Best Local Researcher

Academics have a reputation for whiling away hours in the arcane. Not so for UNLV’s Scott Abella, especially this time of year, when our parched landscape is filled with the tinder of undergrowth and non-native grasses, the ecologist’s copious studies on how wildfires affect everyone in the region. As director of UNLV’s Desert and Dryland Forest Research, he is developing ways to address the wildfire hazards that arose from fire-suppression techniques that have backfired on us. Such work is already changing practices in the Spring Mountains, where managers are thinning forests to mimic the natural fire patterns found in forests a century ago.