Susan Jean Riha

Charles L. Pack Professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences


I am a professor in the department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and joined the Cornell faculty in 1980. At that time, I was appointed the Charles L. Pack Research Professor of Forest Soils. My research interests are in the area of the interaction of plants with their physical environment and in dynamic simulation modeling. I work on both environmental and plant production problems on the state, national and international levels. I am a member of the graduate fields of Soil and Crop Sciences and of International Agriculture.

Research Focus

My research is focused on understanding and predicting the dynamic interactions of plants with their environment on the field and regional scale. I develop and use biophysical models to analyze experimental data collected as part of growth chamber, greenhouse and field studies. The studies we undertake contribute to our understanding of the impact of flooding on plant water relations, the impact of soil drying on plant growth and water use, and the importance of different surfaces to vapor transport under various crop and forestry systems. The process of utilizing biophysical models to analyze experimental data has in turn laid the groundwork for me to use plant-environmental simulation models to address a number of applied problems. These include such issues as the response of agriculture to climate change, the impact of climate variability on crop yield, improving the use of stored soil water in different cropping systems, predicting the influence of climate on weed-crop competition, and optimizing phytoremediation systems. I plan to continue to strengthen and expand the use of these biophysical models and develop a better understanding and ability to predict biophysical interactions on watershed and larger scales.