Faculty of Environmental Studies


Podur, Justin J

Podur, Justin J
Associate Professor
GIS Coordinator
Hons BSc (Physics)
MScF (Forestry)
PhD (Forestry)

Areas of Academic Interest

  • Mathematical Modeling
  • Forest Fires
  • Landscape Ecology
  • Urban Wildlife Ecology
  • Political Conflicts

I am currently working with students on problems of urban landscape ecology. The big question motivating this research is: what happens if we look at the city as an ecosystem for other species? What can we learn about the ecology of the species we encounter every day in the city? And what would it mean to us, and to them, if we understood that ecology better?

My scientific research background has been focused on forest fires in Ontario – their spatial and temporal patterns, increases in their numbers and area burned, balancing their role as part of the landscape with the fact that they can threaten people and things of value. Looking at causes of the increases led me to an interest in climate change, and how to manage forests in light of it.

My main methods have been modeling using mathematical and computer models to study fire and, now, other ecological problems. I teach landscape ecology and geographic information systems.

In parallel, I have developed a research program on political conflicts, focused on a few specific parts of the world where I have traveled and worked as a journalist and translator. In recent years I have begun to think about these issues in a more academic way, as opposed to a journalist or an activist way, trying to relate to and contribute to the political science literature on these matters.

Major research projects

  • Simulation modeling of growth and suppression of large fires
  • Fire growth models and weather
  • Climate change and forest fires
  • Urban forestry and ecological restoration

Select prizes and awards

  • NSERC Discovery Grant, 2008-2010
  • Frank A. MacDougall Fellowship, 2004-2005
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Canadian Forest Service (CFS) Supplement, 2000-2004
  • NSERC Post Graduate Scholarship (PGS) B, 2002-2004
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship, 2001-2002

Select publications


Podur, J. (2014). A Short Course on Development in “Post-conflict” Congo. Radical Teacher, 98, 52-57. doi:10.5195/rt.2014.70.

Podur, Justin (2013), "Incompatible objectives: Counterinsurgency and development in Afghanistan", Chapter 10 in Empire's Ally, edited by Klassen and Albo. University of Toronto Press, February 2013.

Podur, Justin (2012). Haiti's New Dictatorship. Pluto Press, BTL, and Palgrave-Macmillan.

Podur, Justin J. and Wotton, B.M (2011), "Defining fire spread event days for fire-growth modeling." International Journal of Wildland Fire, 20, 1-11.

Podur, Justin J. and Wotton, Michael (2010), "Will climate change overwhelm firer management capacity?" Ecological Modelling, doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel. 2010.01.013.

Podur, Justin J., Martell, David L, and Stanford, David (2009), "A compound Poisson model for the annual area burned by forest fires in the province of Ontario, " Environmetrics, 21, 457-469.

Podur, Justin J., Martell, David L. (2009). “The influence of weather and fuel type on the fuel composition of the area burned by forest fires in Ontario 1996-2006”. Ecological Applications 19 (5): 1246-1252.

Podur, Justin J., Martell, David L. (2007). "A simulation model of the growth and suppression of large forest fires in Ontario." International Journal of Wildland Fire 16, 285-294.

Hirsch, Kelvin G., Podur, Justin J., Janser, Robert F., and McAlpine, Robert S. (2003). "Productivity of Initial Attack Fire Crews: Results of an Expert Judgement Elicitation Study." Canadian Journal of Forest Research 34 (3) pp. 705-716.

Podur, Justin J., Martell, David L., and Csillag, Ferenc (2003) "Spatial Patterns of Lightning Caused Forest Fires in Ontario, 1976-1998". Ecological Modeling 164 (2003) pp.1-20.

Podur, Justin J., Martell, David L., and Knight, Keith (2002) "Statistical quality control analysis of forest fire activity in Canada". Canadian Journal of Forest Research 32 (2) pp.195-205.


Presentation: "What if we couldn't fight fire?" Podur, Justin and R.A. McAlpine. Wildfire Canada 2012, Kananaskis,Alberta, October 1-5, 2012.

Presentation: "Nature, capital and commodification: Ecology and the capital as power framework". Capitalizing Power: The Qualities and Quantities of Accumulation - Third Annual Forum on Capital as Power, York University, September 29-30, 2012.

Presentation: "Incorporating a spread event model defined by MODIS hot spots into fire growth modeling." Justin Podur and A. Saliola. Wildfire Canada 2010, Waterloo, October 5-7, 2010.

Presentation: "Can increased fire supression resources reduce area burned under climate change?" Justin Podur and B.M. Wotton. CORSConference, Toronto, June 14-17, 2009.

Presentation: "Climate change and future area burned in Ontarion." Justin Podur and B.M.Wotton. BIRS Workshop, Banff, Ontario, May 4-9, 2008.

Presentation: "A compound Poisson model for aggregate area burned in Ontario." Justin Podur, David L. Martell, and David Stanford. CORS Conference, London, Ontario. May 13-16, 2007.

Presentation: "A Simulation Model for the Growth and Suppression of Large Forest Fires in Ontario." Justin Podur and David L. Martell. INFORMS Applied Probability Conference. Ottawa, Ontario. July 6, 2005.

Technical report: "Fireline construction rate productivity study: report on statistical analysis". Conducted for the Fire Science and Technology Unit, Aviation, Flood and Fire Management Branch, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Justin Podur, David L. Martell. September 1, 2000.

Conference Paper: "Spatial Point Pattern Analysis of Lightning-caused forest fires in the Boreal Forest region of Ontario." Justin Podur, David L. Martell, and Ferenc Csillag. SystemsAnalysis in Forestry conference, September 28, 2000. Appears in the proceedings of "Eighth Symposium on Systems Analysis in Forest Resources". Snowmass, Colorado, USA. September 28-October 1, 2000.

Presentation: "Spatial Point Pattern Analysis of Ontario’s Forest Fires". Justin Podur, David L. Martell, and Ferenc Csillag. Wildfire Science Meeting, Sault. Ste. Marie, Ontario. Facilitated by the Fire Science and Technology Unit, Aviation, Flood and Fire Management Branch, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. January 19-20, 2000.

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