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Scientific Advisory Board

Scientific Advisory Board

CockingWebWith an undergraduate degree from Pomona College, a master’s from Cornell University and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University, Dean Cocking is an associate professor of biology at James Madison University. He has studied landscape and community ecology, as well as mercury as an ecosystem contaminant. From Dean: “Currently my research interests are centered on questions involving the uptake of mercury by plants and animals from terrestrial ecosystems. Much of my work has been in conjunction with undergraduate and graduate students at James Madison University. We have been looking at field situations associated with contamination of the South River floodplain at Waynesboro, VA, as well as laboratory models of bioaccumulation in plants and earthworms. We have looked at translocation of Hg within plant tissues, and most recently, the role of atmospheric dust deposition as contaminant source.”



CopenheaverWebCarolyn Copenheaver is an Associate Professor in Forest Ecology in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA.  She joined the faculty at Virginia Tech in 2000, after earning her Ph.D. from Penn State in Forest Resources, her M.S. in Forestry from the University of Maine, and her B.S. in Ecology from Juniata College.  Her research focuses on reconstructing environmental history of forested ecosystems from tree-ring records, forest composition and structure, and historical documents. At Virginia Tech she teaches an undergraduate class in Forest Ecology and Silvics and a graduate class in Advanced Forest Ecology.

Copenheaver has been interested in conservation of natural resources since 1990, when she partnered with Mary Lehman (another 500-Year Forest Foundation Scientific Advisory Board member) to conduct an environmental audit of their college.  As part of the audit, she remembers sneaking with Mary into the men’s bathrooms to measure water leaking from faucets and meeting with the Printing Office to evaluate the potential of having the university convert to recycled paper for its internal printing.  Her discussions about paper recycling led her to want to understand more about the forest industry and she pursued graduate degrees in forestry. Through her exposure to forest managers she began to see foresters as scientists who have a deep understanding of forest ecosystems and are protectors of the sustainability of forest resources.

It is from this middle ground of valuing the utilization of forest resources while balancing forest conservation that Copenheaver serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of the 500-Year Forest Foundation.



GriscomHeather Griscom. I am an associate professor of forest ecology at James Madison University. I graduated from Smith College with a B.A. in Biology. After graduating from Smith, I worked for the Missouri Botanical Garden at the Center for Plant Conservation and in Suriname, South America assisting in tropical rain forest botanical expeditions. I then pursued my masters and PhD at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies joint with The New York Botanical Garden. My master’s thesis was on the role of frugivorous bats in seed dispersal within tropical rain forest in French Guiana. For my dissertation research I investigated mechanisms inhibiting regeneration of dry tropical forest in Panama.  

My research interests shifted to temperate forests of Southern Appalachia when I started teaching at JMU in 2006. I like to involve undergraduate students in my research and close proximity to field sites was essential.  I am currently researching two well-loved forest plant species; American chestnut and American ginseng.  Both valuable species are compromised in our forest ecosystems due to disease (chestnut) and overharvesting (ginseng). I design field and greenhouse experiments to identify optimal sites for reintroduction of these species in order to maintain the integrity and diversity of our forest ecosystems.  

I am married to Bronson Griscom, director of forest carbon science, at the Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia.  We have three little girls and live in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  Heather Griscom Curriculum Vitae



LehmanMary E. Lehman is a Professor of Biology at Longwood University in Farmville, VA. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. from North Carolina State University and B.S. from Juniata College. She teaches several ecology and botany courses, as well as introductory biology. Her current research involves plant-animal interactions, plant responses to allelochemicals, and pedagogical implications of learning styles.

Her love of the outdoors began early in life with frequent hiking through the Pennsylvania forests near her home. She began to think about biology as a career path after starting a birding life list at age twelve. Though her primary interest later turned to plants, she is still an avid birder and enjoys teaching and learning about the great diversity of organisms of all types in our forests and other ecosystems.  Mary E. Lehman Curriculum Vitae



MaxwellR. Stockton Maxwell, PhD, Assistant Professor of Geospatial Science, Radford University

Stockton Maxwell (PhD West Virginia University) is an assistant professor of Geospatial Science at Radford University. His academic training is varied.  He started out as a behavioral psychologist, moved onto forest ecology, and ended up as a biogeographer with ecological intentions. At RU, he teaches courses in physical geography and geographic information systems (GIS) to an all undergraduate department. Stockton regularly involves undergraduate students in his research and believes that the research experience is fundamental to undergraduate education. Stockton is the director of the Radford University Tree Ring Lab and his research focuses on forest ecology, paleoclimate reconstruction, and carbon sequestration. Funding for his research comes from the National Science Foundation, internal sources, and his wallet. His most recent work can be found in the journals Environmental Research Letters, Ecosphere, and Applied Vegetation Science. Stockton is also an active member of the Association of American Geographers through his organization of tree-ring sessions and has been an instructor at the North American Dendroecological Fieldweek.

Stockton was born and raised in West Virginia and feels at home in the mountains. He currently lives in Blacksburg, VA with his awesome wife, Megan, little man, Forrester, and the newest addition, Juniper. Also, turns out that his wife is an animal behaviorist so everyone in the house is well behaved (mostly) including a dog and a parrot. Stockton enjoys getting out for hikes, fine microbrews, and seeing new things.

You can learn more about Stockton on his website The Treeringist. Or follow him on Twitter @StocktonMaxwell where he post stuff about science.  R. Stockton Maxwell Curriculum Vitae

Former Scientific Advisors 

Daniel L. Druckenbrod, Ph.D., Rider University 
Stewart A. Ware, Ph.D., College of William & Mary (professor emeritus)