About the Northern Research Station

About NRS

Director: Cynthia West - currently acting Deputy Chief for Research and Development

Deputy Director: Tracy Tophooven - currently acting Station Director

Assistant Directors for Research: Elizabeth Larry and Dan Dey (acting)

Assistant Director for Communications and Science Delivery: Suzanne Flory

Assistant Director for Business Operations: Angie Hanz


Research Work Units: 11
Locations: 23
Employees: 304

Station Strategic Framework

thumbnail image of cover of Northern Research Station Strategic FrameworkThe Strategic Framework was developed to clarify the focus of Station science and knowledge transfer priorities over the next five years. Additionally, the Framework describes core values for our operations that emphasize collaboration, inclusion, connection, and research and science delivery integration.

About the Northern Research Station

The Northern Research Station’s science is complex, but the need for the research is simple. Land managers, city planners, and policy-makers need sound science on all aspects of the natural world and its complex connections with people to achieve decisions resulting in a healthy and sustainable future for present and future generations of Americans.

In a region extending from Maine to Minnesota and from Missouri to Maryland, Northern Research Station science aims to understand all of the elements of forests and related landscapes. Part of the Forest Service Research and Development program, the Northern Research Station is one of seven Forest Service research units conducting research with in all 50 States as well as in U.S. territories and commonwealths.

Northern Research Station scientists reach these audiences in a variety of ways, including:

  • Publishing in peer-reviewed journals and Station General Technical Reports; over 15,000 publications authored or co-authored by Northern Research Station scientists.
  • The Station develops web-based tools that deliver sound, peer-reviewed science in a format that is convenient for land managers and others.

The Station manages 22 of the 80 experimental forests that are part of the Forest Service Experimental Forest Network; most of these long-term research sites lie within National Forests. The ability to conduct scientific research in-house, to apply research findings on National Forest System lands, and to transfer these findings to others for use on all of the nation’s forest land sets the Forest Service apart as a natural resource agency.

Meet our Director

Northern Research Station Director Cynthia WestDr. Cynthia D. West has 28 years of experience working across private industry, academia, and federal government in a variety of jobs to ensure sustainability of our natural resources. Dr. West was appointed Director of the Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory in February 2021.  Previously she was Director of the new Office of Sustainability & Climate Change with the Forest Service in 2015 to oversee national climate change policy and program development for the Agency to mitigate climate change and increase forest resiliency. This interdisciplinary program guided policy and practices to assist land managers in assessing climate related risks, developing adaptation solutions, monitoring risks and impacts, assessing forest carbon, and addressing watershed resiliency. She has extensive experience working across organizational boundaries to build collaboration and partnerships. 

Dr. West has served in various leadership roles in USFS’ Research and Development (R&D), including as the Associate Deputy Chief for R&D, with responsibility for administering a $300 million annual research program to inform policy and land management decisions that improve the health and use of U.S. forests and grasslands, including 193 million acres of national forests.  Before coming into the Washington Office as Director for Resource Use Sciences in the Washington Office, Cynthia served as Deputy Station Director for USFS’ Pacific Northwest Research Station in Portland, OR for 9 years.  In this position, she built a strong science-management partnership to address complex resource challenges in Alaska, Washington, and Oregon. She also held positions in academia at Virginia Tech and Mississippi State University.  She started her career, working in forest management, with Weyerhaeuser in North Carolina in timber procurement and landowner assistance. A career that bridges forestry, sustainability, and wood products makes her well suited to lead the USDA Forest Products Lab and research programs across 22 states within the Northern Research Station.

A native of Staunton, Virginia, Dr. West holds a BS degree in Forestry Management, an MBA in Marketing and Management, and a PhD in Wood Science and Forest Products from Virginia Tech.  As a research scientist, she published more than 60 papers and spoke at more than 80 conferences on forest sector trade and industry development.

Last modified: November 15, 2022