James Fox

Former Director
The Collider

James (Jim) Fox served as the Director for UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC). In that position, he was the team leader and principal investigator for several major collaborations, including the USDA Forest Service's Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center (EFETAC), NOAA’s Climate Program Office and National Centers for Environmental Information, the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, and state, county, municipal, and regional governments in the southeastern United States. NEMAC uses visualizations, geographic information systems (GIS), web tools, and decision support tools to address key societal resilience issues that include climate change adaptation, forest health, flood mitigation, water resources, and future land use planning.

Jim is currently a Senior Resilience Analyst for NEMAC+FernLeaf (a Public/Private Partnership). Mr. Fox has over 40 years of experience in helping people understand and make decisions in a complex and changing world. He has deep expertise in facilitating dynamic and data-driven workshops for decision support; delivering complex information in an easy-to-understand format is a particular strength. The NEMAC+FernLeaf team are known nationally for their significant role in the development and ongoing management of the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit in collaboration with NOAA’s Climate Program Office. Jim led the development of two important site features: the Steps to Resilience, the nationally adopted framework for resilience planning; and the Climate Explorer, an interactive map and graph viewer that allows any community in the U.S. to explore its risk exposure.

Recent projects that have gained local and national attention have included NEMAC’s work on:

Jim holds undergraduate degrees in Geology/Geophysics and Communications and a Master’s Degree in Information Technology for Informal Education. He specializes in systems thinking: integrating vast amounts of data, converting that data into information using visualization and storytelling, and using that information to support complex decision making through risk analysis. Prior to establishing the Center, Mr. Fox performed complex risk analysis in the offshore oil exploration business. He has produced animations and visualizations for national parks and earth science museums nationwide, including the major museums in Denver and Houston. He returned home to Asheville in 2002 to pursue his passion of utilizing community collaborations and computer technologies to aid in complex decision making. Over the years, he has designed and taught many workshops with a foundation in hands-on learning through application of tools to real life problems.

Selected NEMAC Presentations/Publications/Papers

  • Fox, J., M. Hutchins, C. Dougherty, N. Hall, and P. Nierengarten. “Regional Partnerships that are Working to Build Resilience: A Southeast Example.” Poster presentation at the National Adaptation Forum, St. Louis, MO, May 12–14, 2015.
  • Fox, J., J. Dobson, M. Phillips, J. Hicks, D. Herring, and D. Stroud. “The Climate Explorer: The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit Interactive Mapping and Graph Application.” Presentation at the 95th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, Phoenix, AZ, January 4-8, 2015.
  • Fox, J., J. Dobson, K. Rogers, M. Phillips, and M. Hutchins. “Moving from Analysis to Action: The Next Step for Climate Adaptation.” Presentation at the Carolinas Climate Resilience Conference, Charlotte, NC, April 28-29, 2014.
  • Fox, J., and J. Dobson. “Framing the Climate Issue for Small and Medium-Sized Communities across the Southeastern U.S.” Presentation at the 94th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, February 2-6, 2014.
  • Fox, J., J. Dobson, K. Lichtenstein, and M. Phillips. “Delivering Scientific Information and Tools to Decision Makers: Examples of a Dynamic Business Process.” Presentation at the American Meteorological Society 19th Conference on Applied Climatology, Asheville, NC, July 18-20, 2011.
  • Fox, J. “Building the Delivery Truck: Developing Tools that Allow Decision Makers to Move from Assessment to Action.” Presentation at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Climate Change Conference, February, 2011.
  • Fox, J., J. Michael, and T. Allen. "Climate Change Adaptation and Potential Impacts on the Three Regions of North Carolina." Presentation at the Climate Change Adaptation Workshop "Planning for North Carolina's Future: Ask the Climate Question, March, 2010.
  • Fox, J., and others. "Communicating Climate and Climate Change Information for Integrated Decision Support at the County and Regional Level." Presentation at the Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere (SAMAB) Annual Conference, Asheville, NC, November 17–19, 2009.
  • Fox, J. “Decision Support Tools for Counties, Communities and Planners.” Presentation at the American Forests 2008 Urban Ecosystems Conference, May, 2008.
  • Fox, J., G. Dobson, M. Phillips, and T. Pierce. “Visualization as a Decision Support Tool: Asheville’s North Fork Reservoir and the Balance Between Drought and Flood Mitigation,” Presentation at the Association of Dam Safety Officials Southeast Regional Conference, April, 2008.
  • Fox, J., and G. Dobson. “New Tools for Regional Planners and Decision Makers: Water Resource and Flooding Issues in Western North Carolina.” Presentation at the American Meteorological Society National Water Forum, March, 2008.

Courses Taught

  • Guest Lecture — Value-Based Decision Making: Risks, Scenario Planning, and Complex Systems Thinking
  • Guest Lecture — Energy, Economics, and Sustainability
  • Guest Lecture — Scientific Visualization
  • Guest Lecture — GIS and 3D Visualization


  • Spanish, fluent
  • IT skills — database, project management, programming