Feb. 15, 2013 – University Distinguished Professor Harold E. Burkhart was honored as Virginia’s Outstanding Scientist of 2013 by the Governor’s Office and the Science Museum of Virginia at a General Assembly reception on Jan. 17.
“Forest scientists consider Harold Burkhart the father of forest biometrics,” noted Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. “Harold’s international leadership in this basic research vastly improved forest development, particularly in the South. The Virginia Tech community is very proud of this recognition of distinction and Harold’s career-long accomplishments to his discipline of forest science. He has been a major contributor to establishing our forestry program at Virginia Tech as a global leader.”
Burkhart’s principal path-breaking achievement is the development of a comprehensive, integrated set of forest yield forecasting models for stands subjected to a wide variety of management treatments. His contributions to the advancement of forest growth are unprecedented, and he has led the way in developing new methodology for tree and stand modeling and in elucidating the complex mathematical relationships between models of differing levels.
Peers call Burkhart, who is the endowed Thomas M. Brooks Professor of Forestry, “a world-class scientist who has been one of the top leaders for more than three decades.” They note that his basic science contributions have set him apart from the majority of other scientists.
“Professor Burkhart’s modeling methods have been adopted, extended, and applied in Virginia, across America, and around the world, thus contributing to the goal of sustainable management of forest resources,” explained Dean Paul Winistorfer. “He has significantly advanced the science of sustainability. His commitment to the college has been at the highest level, and his care and concern for students complement his many research and outreach achievements. We are very fortunate that Harold chose to make his career at Virginia Tech.”
In addition to Burkhart’s seminal contributions to forest modeling and advancing the science of sustainability, former students and colleagues around the nation also recognize him for his unparalleled success as a mentor of graduate students. Burkhart has freely shared his best ideas and greatest insights with graduate students and postdoctoral associates, encouraging young scholars and helping them become established by listing them as primary authors for their collaborative research.