Dr. Burnell Fischer is a clinical professor emeritus specializing in urban and community forestry. He joined Indiana University in 2005 after 15 years with the Indiana Division of Forestry where he served as the state forester and director. At O'Neill, Fischer teaches classes on urban forestry and conducts research on urban and community forestry practices and issues, forest resource policy, state government management and collaborative forestry. He leads the Bloomington Urban Forestry Research Group.
Fischer served as the co-director and interim director of the Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis from 2012-14. He was the O'Neill Undergraduate Program director from 2008-11. He was an adjunct professor of forestry at Purdue University from 1997-2014.
In 2013, Fischer was honored with the Frederick Law Olmsted Award from the Arbor Day Foundation for his contribution to tree planting, conservation, and stewardship. Fischer has been instrumental in the growth of the Tree Campus USA program, which provides resources and recognition for colleges and universities that make tree care a priority. The Arbor Day Foundation has named IU Bloomington a Tree Campus USA 13 years in a row.
Fischer received a National Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Cost-Share Grant, a $173,000 award from the U. S. Forest Service, as well as a second grant, a $35,000 award, from the U.S Forest Service Northern Research Station to study “Trees and People” – a two way street: A research program to assess the direct and indirect effects of urban tree-planting programs in the face of climate change (2013-18). This research project extended his continuing Indianapolis based pilot project to four additional cities and examines direct effects on tree survival as well as indirect effects of the tree-planting on the community organizations helping to implement the program. Results of this research has been published in numerous journals by Fischer and his students, as well as presented a national urban forestry conferences. The Bloomington Urban Forestry Research Group continues this research.
Fischer has served in a wide range of organizations in the past 20 years: president and board member of the Indiana Urban Forest Council, board member of the national Alliance for Community Trees, board member of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, member of the Cities of Bloomington and Lafayette Tree Commissions, member of the USDA National Urban Forestry & Community Advisory Council, and president of the National Association of State Foresters.