A widely published researcher, Foss has nearly 60 published papers devoted to soil archaeology. During his professional career Foss consulted internationally investigating soils sites to interpret the history and development of archaeological sites. His research varied widely and included the sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 69, and the site of the Emperor Hadrian's Villa and many other locations of Roman antiquities. His archaeological studies conducted through a grant with National Geographic included trips to Central America, Puerto Rico, Greece and Tunisia.
Foss headed the plant and soil science department at Knoxville in 1985, and previously chaired the soil science department at North Dakota State University and taught soil science at the University of Maryland. His other experiences included serving as a visiting scientist at the Forest Hydrology Laboratory in Washington State. Foss also taught soils courses at UWRF from 1960 to 1966.
Foss is a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and held numerous state, regional and national positions including chair of the national committee on book series, a judge of graduate student papers and a member of the CIBA-GEIGY award in agronomy. As a fellow of the Soil Conservation Society of America, he served on the board of directors, chaired its college and university relations committee, and held a variety of offices in the Tennessee chapter.
Other professional activities included service as associate editor of Soil Science magazine and membership in the Soil Science Society of America and International Soil Science Society.
Foss has been recognized through election to Sigma Xi and Gamma Sigma Delta, is listed in American Men of Science, received the Maryland Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching and received the Outstanding Teaching Award from the American Society of Agronomy.