Virginia is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee. She is a Corporate Fellow Emeritus with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), where she worked for 34 years in the Environmental Sciences Division.
Virginia has served on national scientific advisory boards for five agencies of the United States and several committees of the National Academies of Science. She has authored 11 books and more than 250 published articles.
Virginia’s interests include sustainability and ecosystem management in the context of large disturbances and climate change. She was among the members of the international science community that contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Scientific Assessment that in 2007 received with Al Gore the Nobel Peace Prize.
She was selected as the Distinguished Landscape Ecologist of the US chapter of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE) in 2013. She was the 2006 Distinguished Scientist for ORNL, YWCA of Knoxville Tribute to Women Finalist in 2006, distinguished alumnae of her high school in 2004, and Top Citizen of Oak Ridge in 1999.
Virginia has a BA and MS in mathematics from the University of Tennessee and received her Ph.D. in mathematical ecology from the University of Washington.