Michael Coughlan is an assistant research professor and associate director of the Ecosystem Workforce Program (EWP), in the Institute for Resilient Organizations, Communities, and Environments (IROCE) at the University of Oregon. An ecological and environmental anthropologist by training, Coughlan’s research focuses on human dimensions of wildfire and natural resources management, socioecological resilience, and long-term human-environment interactions (historical ecology).
At EWP, Coughlan leads applied research on social and economic aspects of landscape restoration and conservation policies and practices as well as societal responses to wildfire and wildfire smoke. Coughlan also leads and collaborates on research projects related to long-term human-environment interactions and socioecological resilience in the French western Pyrenees and in the US Pacific Northwest. This work combines theory and method in cultural and archaeological anthropology, as well as quantitative geographical sciences (GIS) to examine how Indigenous and traditional fire knowledge and practice have influenced landscapes through time.
Coughlan previously worked as a Forest Service archaeologist and wildland fire fighter in Arizona and Wyoming. He has also conducted historical ecological research in the South Carolina Piedmont as part of the Critical Zone Observatory network and collaborates internationally with research networks focused on wildfire risk reduction and diversifying perspectives in long-term fire ecology.