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Susan J. Frankel

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Albany, CA 94708

current research

Susan is a biologist for Sudden Oak Death Research, at the USDA-Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) in Albany, CA. For the past 10 years, Susan has run the national Sudden Oak Death/Phytophthora ramorum competitive research grants program. She was the first chairperson of the California Oak Mortality Task Force,, and continues to be one of the leaders working to address sudden oak death in California. Susan also works on prevention of pathogen introductions into restoration areas, forest diseases given climate change, tracking forest pest trends and urban forest health. Susan participates in numerous international, national, regional and local leadership capacities and is an Associate Editor for the Canadian Journal of Forest Research.

research interest

Susan's interests include forest Phytophthoras; invasive species management; climate change and forest diseases, urban forest health and tracking pest trends.

past research

From 1987 to 2005, Susan worked as a plant pathologist for Forest Health Protection, State and Private Forestry, Pacific Southwest Region Headquarters. Susan worked primarily on on root diseases, nursery pests, sudden oak death and pitch canker.


Tree diseases, as exmplified by sudden oak death, affect people in many disciplines, industries and walks of life; for pathogen spread to be prevented all parties need to be engaged. Forest diseases need a scientific basis for management by land owners, arborists, homeowners, policy-makers, regulators, growers and producers (horticultural nurseries, compost, mushroom, cut foliage, Christmas trees), recreationists and tribal gatherers. Research findings are the basis for current international, federal and state regulations, and are used worldwide in risk assessments, monitoring and management programs.

U.S. forests are increasing threatened by invasive species, climate change and disturbance. Understanding the impacts of forest diseases is critical to sustain trees in urban forests, woodlands and wildlands.


  • University of Washington, Seattle Forest Pathology and Silviculture M.S. And M.F.R. 1991
  • University of California, Berkeley Plant Pathology, Natural Resources B.S. 1985

Professional Organizations

  • Western International Forest Disease Work Conference Chairperson, Climate Change (2007 - Current)
  • California Forest Pest Council At-Large Director (2005 - Current)
  • California Oak Mortality Task Force Chairperson, Research (2005 - Current)

Awards & Recognition

  • Outstanding reviewer - Botany Journal, 2020
  • NPDN Outstanding Team Service Award, 2016
    For work on Phytophthora tentaculata
  • Outstanding achievement Award in Forest Pathology, 2011
    Western International Forest Disease Work Conference
  • Excellence in Invasive Species Partnership Development - National FS Invasive Species Program, 2011
    Excellence in Invasive Species Partnership Development - National FS Invasive Species Program
  • Keynote speaker, Australian Plant Pathology Society Conference, 2006
    Spoke on managing sudden oak death
  • Regional Forester's Award for outstanding achievement, 2004
    Recognized work on responding to sudden oak death
  • S.J. Hall lecture, UC Berkeley, 2002
    Spoke at homecoming to UC Berkeley, Natural Resources


Priority Research Areas

  • Climate Change
  • Urban Natural Resources Stewardship