Alexandra D. Syphard, PhD

Governor appointee

Chief Scientist, Vertus Wildfire Insurance; Adjunct Professor, San Diego State


  • Geospatial, statistical and risk modeling approaches
  • Fire ecology and land use
  • Vegetation management’s impact on wildfire patterns
  • Data governance

Alexandra D. Syphard, Ph.D. has spent more than two decades analyzing the ecological and social drivers and impacts of landscape change, particularly focusing on wildfires in California, USA and other Mediterranean-climate ecosystems. Alexandra uses a variety of geospatial, statistical, and modeling approaches to investigate how and why change has occurred in the past, how it is likely to occur in the future, and how different policy or management decisions may impact ecological and social well-being. Her extensive research on wildfire risk to communities forms the scientific basis for underwriting homeowners’ insurance in fire-prone ecosystems. Her work also focuses on the interactions among wildfire patterns, land use change and urban growth, climate change, vegetation dynamics and biodiversity, invasive species, and plant species’ range shifts.

Alexandra Syphard has been chief scientist at Sage Insurance Holdings LLC since 2018 and adjunct professor in the Geography Department at San Diego State University since 2011. She was a senior research scientist at the Conservation Biology Institute from 2007 to 2019 and a postdoctoral research scientist for the University of Wisconsin-Madison, SILVIS Lab in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology from 2005 to 2007, and a geographic information system (GIS) analyst and environmental planner at Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, from 1998 to 1999. Syphard earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in geography from San Diego State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, a Master of Science degree in environmental studies from the Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Public Health degree from the Medical College of Virginia.