Susan Riha

Susan J. Riha

Charles L. Pack Professor Emeritus--Appointment is in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS)


Dr. Riha joined the Cornell faculty in 1980 as the Charles L. Pack Research Professor of Forest Soils. Her research interests are in the area of the interaction of plants with their physical environment and in dynamic simulation modeling. Riha works on both environmental and plant production problems on the state, national and international levels. She is a member of the graduate fields of Soil and Crop Sciences and of International Agriculture.

Research Interests

Riha's research program addresses the dynamic interactions of plants with their physical environment. The general approach has been to use biophysical models to analyze experimental data collected as part of growth chamber, greenhouse and field studies. The studies undertaken have contributed 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, forestry and agroforestry systems. The process of utilizing biophysical models to analyze experimental data has in turn layed 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 by crops growing in a semi-arid environment, devising drought stress indicators for forest productivity and biodiversity, and enhancing water use in agroforestry systems. As Riha's research program centers on soil-plant atmosphere systems and involves both modeling and experimental work, the studies often cross boundaries between more traditional areas of research (for example, soil physics and plant physiology, or agronomy and forestry) and research methodologies (experimental and theoretical).

Teaching Interests

Environmental biophysics and modeling soil-plant-atmosphere systems.

Selected Publications

  • Carter, E. K., Riha, S. J., Melkonian, J. J., & Steinschneider, S. 2018.Yield response to climate, management, and genotype: a large-scale observational analysis to identify climate-adaptive crop management practices in high-input maize systems, Environmental Research Letters, (13), 11, 11 pp.
  • Hill, N. B., Riha, S. J., & Walter, M. T. 2018. Temperature dependence of daily respiration and reaeration rates during baseflow conditions in a northeastern U.S. stream, Journal of Hydrology, (19), 250-264.
  • Carter, E. K., Melkonian, J. J., Steinschneider, S., & Riha, S. J. 2018. Rainfed maize yield response to management and climate: Covariability at large spatial scales, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, (256), 242-252.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Fellow (American Society of Agronomy) 2006


  • BA (Religion), Smith College, 1971
  • MSc (Plant and Soil Science), University of Massachusetts, 1974
  • Ph D (Soil Science), Washington State University, 1980