Susan Fox

Program Director (2013 - 2019)

Research Interests

  • Estimating the magnitude disturbance impacts to southern forests using landscape and regional scale models.
  • Exploring the sensitivity of forests to simulated changes in climatic conditions, land use change, and pest and pathogen interactions.
  • Collaborating with FIA and use monitoring data bases and research findings to evaluate impacts of multiple factors at these two scales.
  • Exploring the possible consequences of spatial structure in genetic variability to mediate the transient responses of forest to disturbance factors and rapid climate change in particular.
  • Integrating the interactive effects of carbon dioxide, nutrition, temperature, soil moisture, and other factors to assess their relative importance in governing tree growth and mortality.


USDA Forest Service, USDOI Bureau of Land Management, National  Park Service, Fish & Wildlife Service
Director, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute (, 2013 - 2019 (GS 0404-15)
Manage the interagency research organization for the 110,000 million acres of the National Wilderness Preservation System. I lead a team of scientists that conduct research on the highest priority issues of wilderness managers. My duties include directing research on economics, land use change, recreation, fish and wildlife dynamics, water provisioning, and fire. I actively fund raise to support the research and have doubled the Institute’s budget in my time here. Networking with wilderness organizations and the recreation industry is an important part of my leadership. I also regularly interact with Congressional members about science accomplishments and legislative issues.

USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station
Assistant Director for Research, 2009 - 2013 (GS 0401-15)
Manage a portfolio of research that includes economics, policy, upland hardwood ecology, bioenergy, operations, wilderness, recreation and social science with 80 employees and a budget of ~$8 million. Provide leadership in determining funding and scope of the research conducted relative to the Station’s overall science portfolio. Analyze public policy relevant to research to determine how to ensure that Forest Service research conforms to national policies, objectives, and technical standards. Executive Director of the multi-agency and organization Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere Program. On the Board of Directors (ex officio) of the Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute. Southern Research Station representative to the Assistant Director/Deputy Director group in Forest Service Research. Lead the Station’s interdisciplinary bioenergy initiative.

USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station
Assistant Director for Planning and Application, 2002 - 2008 (GS 0401-14)
Managed the Station out year budget which included drafting briefing papers for Congress and Agency personnel on a wide range of subjects. Represented the Station in Hill visits. Developed scoping studies on numerous issues to identify areas of scientific expansion in the Station (Green Lands/Blue Waters, Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley Restoration, Climate Change Impacts, Role of Social Science in Southern Forestry, and Role of Southern Forests in US Renewable Energy Portfolio etc.). Served as the main liaison with university, state, federal, non-governmental and industry partners across the South and across the United States.

USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station
Research Ecologist, 1997 - 2001 (GS 0401-15)
Designed and completed a study to determine the long term affects of agriculture on soils of the southern Piedmont. Project components included, estimating changes in soil chemical and physical variables at the stand-level, extrapolating the information to estimate effects of past land use on current forest net primary productivity across the Carolina Piedmont, and modeling shifts in forest productivity during the past century as land moved into and out of agricultural use in this region.

USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station
Program Manager, September, 1988 - 1996
Planned, established and managed a $5.5 million annual research program on environmental impacts to southern forest resources. Provided the intellectual leadership as well as technical oversight of budget, quality assurance, and scientific accomplishments. Communicated findings to Congress, the scientific community, federal administrators, and the general public.

  • Served as the Executive Director of EASE (Environmental Assessments for the SouthEast) a twenty-agency/organizational group formed to coordinate research and compile scientific findings for use by Congress and the President in determining research goals and in evaluating the adequacy of current environmental legislation.
  • Served as Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees and Director of the National Technical Advisory Committee for the Department of Energy’s National Institute for Global Environmental Change. 
Northrop Services, INC.
Senior Scientist/ Quality Assurance Specialist, May 1986 - September 1988
Developed from inception, a quality assurance program for a $6 million joint USDA Forest Service/US Environmental Protection Agency research program on acid rain impacts to high elevation spruce-fir forests.
  • Developed and implemented a comprehensive quality assurance program for a wide range of research activities including field data collection and laboratory analyses. Projects covered a wide range of topics from atmospheric chemistry, plant physiology, biogeochemistry, mathematical modeling, economic evaluations, and studies of sociological impacts. One of the first efforts to apply quality assurance practices to a comprehensive forest ecology research program.

North Carolina State University
Research Assistant, August 1985 - May 1986
Responsible for synthesizing research findings from a large, interdisciplinary research program.  Participated in selection of projects funded by the program, developed technical guidance materials highlighting expected products from each project.

Ranger Districts in Staufen, Oberndorf am Neckar, Pforzheim, Rotenfels, Germany
Forester/ Technician, February 1980 - May 1985
Interpreted aerial photography, analyzed tree ring data, translated scientific papers, cruised timber, felled trees, planted trees, surveyed roads, conducted deer browse and air pollution surveys.


M.S., Forestry 1985 - Albert-Ludwig's Universitaet, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
B.S., Forestry 1978 - The University of the South, Sewanee, TN


Susan Fox et al. Journal of Forestry, Special Edition on Wilderness Science and Stewardship, May 2016.

Susan Fox et al. Western North Carolina Report Card on Sustainability. General Technical Report SRS-142, September 2011, 198 pgs.

Robert A. Mickler and Susan Fox, Editors. The Productivity and Sustainability of Southern Forest Ecosystems in a Changing Environment. Springer-Verlag, November 1997, 892 pgs.

Susan Fox, K. Joyner, and A.M. Bartuska. Pine Forests in the Southern United States, Chapter 1, Response of Southern Commercial Forests to Air Pollution, Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association, November 1992. 15 pgs.

Susan Medlarz (now Fox). Role of Quality Assurance in the Spruce-Fir Forest Research Cooperative. Proceedings of Colloquium on Research in the Spruce-Fir Ecosystems, Burlington, VT, Oct. 1987, 4 pgs.