Wildfire Research, Community Clinic Included in $1.5 Trillion Federal Spending Plan
Scientists with SJSU’s Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center (WIRC) at Milford, California, in summer 2021 observing the Dixie Fire. Photo credit: WIRC
Two major San José State University initiatives were included in the 2022 fiscal year government spending bill, which was signed into law by President Biden on March 15.
SJSU’s Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center (WIRC) will receive $1.2 million to support cutting-edge fire modeling and prediction technology. Another $500,000 will support the launch of the university’s newly established Healthy Development Community Clinic (HDCC), which will soon provide various wellness services to East San José community members.
The inclusion of the two projects in the omnibus bill is thanks to efforts by California lawmakers U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Zoe Lofgren, as well as advocacy from SJSU’s Community and Government Relations team.
“This funding will help SJSU address two of the nation’s most pressing issues — wildfires and children’s health and wellness,” said SJSU Interim President Steve Perez.
“Developing important research infrastructure that will place our university and state at the forefront of wildfire research is a desperate need, while the funds secured for our Healthy Development Community Clinic will support staffing for this newly established and much-needed facility. I’m grateful to Rep. Lofgren and Sen. Feinstein for their leadership in making this happen.”
Funding secured for WIRC will go toward the development of four new facilities — one of which is a national wildfire data and computing hub, which will allow fire researchers across the country to access data and new modeling tools, explained Craig Clements, director of WIRC.
“The funding will also allow us to build upon our current technology in monitoring wildfires by building a new remote-sensing laboratory, which will offer a fire-monitoring system that will be deployable on a range of different aircraft and enhance WIRC’s current wildfire monitoring capabilities,” Clements added.
Funding will also support a wildfire dynamics laboratory, which will allow faculty and students to test fires of different scales to better understand wildfire behavior, and a community wildfire resilience laboratory to better help communities respond to and prepare for wildfires.
“We are very pleased that SJSU is able to work with our Congressional partners, especially Representative Zoe Lofgren and Senator Dianne Feinstein, to support the important work of the Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center,” said Michael Kaufman, dean of the College of Science.
“The development of WIRC represented a historic investment by SJSU in addressing the challenges of wildfire for the State of California, and this federal support will allow us to grow our critical research efforts to understand, plan for and recover from wildfire.”
The HDCC, located at Oak Grove High School in San José and scheduled to open in June, will offer screenings, evaluations and mental health services for children up to age 18. It will be free and open to the public.
The clinic is a partnership between SJSU’s Connie L. Lurie College of Education and the East Side Union High School District. The $500,000 included in the budget for the HDCC will support staffing.
Other services to be offered include individual, group and family counseling; parent and family education; support groups; skills workshops; literacy development; and more. Services will be provided by SJSU graduate students studying communicative disorders and sciences or speech-language pathology — under the supervision of expert clinical researchers.
“We are incredibly grateful to Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Senior Policy Advisor Priscilla Kim for their support,” shared Heather Lattimer, dean of the College of Education. “This funding will allow us to quickly ramp up programming at the Healthy Development Community Clinic and significantly expand the education, mental health and wellness services we are able to offer to children and families in the East San José community.”
Lofgren shared that the Santa Clara County projects included in the government funding legislation “will make our community safer, more inclusive, more vibrant and more resilient. I will continue to fight for our district to ensure that we get the federal funding we need to make necessary community improvements,” she said.
SJSU’s Community and Government Relations team, which is housed within the SJSU Division of Institutional Affairs, worked with Feinstein’s and Lofgren’s offices for the past year to ensure that the initiatives were included in the spending bill.
“The great work of our San José State faculty, students and staff relies on the kind of strong support and leadership shown by Senator Feinstein and Representative Lofgren,” said Jennifer Malutta, senior director of community and government relations. “A great university can thrive and truly serve the people of Silicon Valley and California when we can count on the resources that will take us into the future.”