Student Scholar

Application Deadline 

Nominations are currently closed.


  • This award recognizes an outstanding student scholar with a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Given annually since 2006.
  • Awarded to an undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate student performing research to advance the science and practice of fire protection engineering.
  • The goal of this award is to recognize outstanding student scholars around the world in support of the science and practice of fire protection engineering.
  • This award is separate and distinct from the Foundation's Student Research Grants.


  • Nominations are accepted from undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students who are performing research to advance the science and practice of fire protection engineering. Self-nominations are welcomed and encouraged. 

How to Apply

Eligible students may apply by completing the 2024 Foundation Awards Nominations/Applications FormInterested applicants are expected to complete their own nomination form, including all required components listed below. A letter of recommendation from a supporting faculty member must be included in the application materials, as noted below:

    1. Full name of the applicant, academic program type, and school affiliation.
    2. Applicant mailing and email addresses.
    3. A description of the student's research (max 1000 words) illustrating how the research relates to the science and practice of fire engineering. Preference will be given to students whose work is consistent with the Foundation's research priorities as identified in the SFPE Research RoadmapThe student's research will be evaluated based on its technical quality, a clear methodology, and expected outcomes.
    4. A letter of support from the faculty member who will be supervising the research which must include: a) support of the project and the applicant, and b) the qualifications of the faculty member in the field of fire protection engineering.
    5. Evidence of the applicant’s university academic achievement in the form of transcripts or similar official documentation as well as publication record, especially for doctoral students.
    6. Evidence of the applicant’s involvement in professional or non-professional organizations, and any involvement with the profession or the community at large, illustrating leadership and volunteerism (max 250 words).
    7. Name and brief biography of the student as the nominated scholarship recipient (max 250 words).
    8. A completed Conflict of Interest Disclosure Form for Foundation Contractors & Grant Recipients. 

If you have any questions, please email Amanda Tarbet at


The Student Scholar Award was established in 2006 by the Board of Governors of the SFPE Foundation to recognize students who are performing research to advance the science and practice of fire protection engineering.

The Foundation's Board of Governors makes the selection annually. Nominations are accepted from undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students and are judged on the scientific quality and relevance of their research to the fire protection engineering profession.

The recipient of this award receives a $1,000 honorarium from the SFPE Foundation.

Latest Recipients

2023 | Pascale Vacca, Ph.D., Universitat Politèncnica de Catalunya (Spain)

Pascale Vacca headshotPascale Vacca
Universitat Politèncnica de Catalunya (Spain)

2023 | Zhuojun Nan, Ph.D., Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Hong Kong) 

Zhuojun Nan headshot

Zhuojun Nan
Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Past Recipients

2022 | Iffah Umairah Zulmajdi, Ph.D. candidate, Universiti Putra Malaysia


Iffah Umairah Zulmajdi
Ph.D. candidate
Universiti Putra Malaysia

2021 | Xingyu Ren, Ph.D. candidate, University of Maryland


Xingyu Ren
Ph.D. candidate
University of Maryland

Xingyu Ren’s research focuses on the use of thermal measurements to decipher the complex process governing terrain and wind enhancements that accelerate fire spread, especially when applied to wildland fires. Several articles from his research have been published, including:

  1. Temperature measurement of a turbulent buoyant ethylene diffusion flame using a dual-thermocouple technique
Published: 2021 in Fire Safety Journal
  • This publication contributes to the Fire Dynamics thread of the SFPE Research Roadmap.
  • Key takeaways:
    • Establishes a systematic temperature dataset with high spatial resolution for sooty flames.
    • Shows that temperatures for a 15 kW buoyant turbulent ethylene diffusion flame over a 15.2 cm diameter gas burner with air co-flow resolved using a dual-thermocouple technique consisting of two fine-wire thermocouples with 25 and 50 wire diameters are less sensitive to changes in thermocouple bead size. Therefore, uncertainty is greatly reduced even when soot deposition on the thermocouple bead occurs in sooty flames.
  1. Effect of freestream turbulence on the structure of boundary-layer flames
Published: 2022 in Combustion and Flame
  • This publication contributes to the Fire Dynamics and Wildland/WUI Fires threads of the SFPE Research Roadmap.
  • Key takeaways:
    • Investigates the role of turbulence induced instabilities on three-dimensional boundary-layer flames.
    • In the study’s experimental setup:
      • Freestream turbulence initiated an earlier onset of visible coherent flame streaks, enlarged the initial streak spacing, and accelerated the growth of the streak spacing along the streamwise direction.
      • Placing a bar upstream of the burner tripped the flow to the point where the downstream flame structure closely resembled flames under the highest turbulence intensity investigated, suggesting a simplistic configuration for future study.

2020 | Matthew Bonner, Imperial College London

2019 | Davood Zeinali, Ghent University

Combustion, Fire & Fire Safety Research Group Department of Structural Engineering, Ghent University

Study of the Importance of Non-Uniform Mass Density in Numerical Simulations of Fire Spread over MDF Panels in a Corner Configuration


The distribution of mass density through the thickness of Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) panels is known to be non-uniform. A few studies have previously investigated the influence of this non-uniform through-thickness density distribution on the thermal behavior of MDF panels in small-scale tests. This study assesses the significance of this material property on flame spread simulations in a medium-scale set-up, namely that of Single Burning Item (SBI) corner fire tests. Simulations are performed using FireFOAM 2.2.x, considering both uniform and non-uniform MDF material density profiles, using model-effective material properties determined from bench-scale pyrolysis tests conducted in a Fire Propagation Apparatus (FPA). The heat transfer from the gas phase is modeled by means of empirical expressions with adjusted parameters. The simulations are assessed against the results of several SBI experiments with MDF panels and a test with Calcium Silicate (CS) panels. When the non-uniform nature of the through-thickness density is taken into account, the fire growth prediction in terms of the total Heat Release Rate (HRR) is considerably different (20% higher peak HRR), mainly due to the characteristic high peak mass loss rate at the initiation of pyrolysis of MDF material, resulting from the higher mass density near the surface of the panels. Furthermore, total heat fluxes on the panels, lateral flame spread, surface pyrolysis and through-thickness char formation visibly depend on the non-uniform distribution of mass density, particularly in regions further away from the corner where the influence of thermal attack from the burner is less dominant. A new diagnostic is proposed for determining the pyrolysis front location and spread on the surface of the charring panels.

D. Zeinali, A. Gupta, G. Maragkos, G. Agarwal, T. Beji, J. Degroote, and B. Merci, "Study of the Importance of Non-Uniform Mass Density in Numerical Simulations of Fire Spread over MDF Panels in a Corner Configuration," Combustion and Flame 200 (2019), Pages 303–315, DOI: 10.1016/j.combustflame.2018.11.020.

2018 | Selena K. Chin, University of Maryland

2017 | Nicholas A. Traina, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

2016 | Aoife Hunt, Ph.D., University of Greenwich for research on Simulating Hospital Evacuation

2015 | Karl Fridolf, Ph.D., Lund University for research on Rail Tunnel Evacuation

2014 | Alistair Bartlett, University of Edinburgh for research on Charring Rates for Cross Laminated Timber Under Standard and Non-Standard Heating Scenarios

2013 | Isaac Leventon, University of Maryland

2012 | Axel Jonsson, Lund University

2011 | Kurt J. Schebel, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

2010 | James O'Neill, University of Canterbury

2008 | Rani A. Kady, Old Dominion University

2007 | Kevin LaMalva, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

2006 | Allan Jowsey, University of Edinburgh