Harold Burkhart, University Distinguished Professor of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of University Distinguished Professor Emeritus posthumously by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The emeritus title may be conferred on retired professors, associate professors, and administrative officers who are specially recommended to the board by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands in recognition of exemplary service to the university.

A member of the Virginia Tech community from 1969 until his death in 2022, Burkhart’s research interests and expertise were in modeling forest stand dynamics, growth, and yield. Among forest scientists, he was considered “the father of forest biometrics, which explores the theory and applications of quantitative models of forest stands,” Virginia Tech President Emeritus Charles W. Steger said when Burkhart was selected as Virginia’s Outstanding Scientist in 2013.

During his distinguished career, Burkhart received more than $17 million in research funding to support his scholarship. He published more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles contributing to the literature on forest biometrics, and wrote five seminal textbooks, including four editions of the primary textbook used in the field for more than four decades.

Burkhart was the founding editor or editor for two scholarly journals, associate editor or editorial board member for 14 other journals, and a proposal reviewer for the National Science Foundation and numerous other competitive granting agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Burkhart received many recognitions for his work, including the Distinguished Alumnus Award in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University in 2020, Virginia Outstanding Scientist in 2013, Distinguished Statistical Ecologist Award by the International Association for Ecology in 1994, Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award by State Council of Higher Education in 1988, Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Research Excellence in 1988, elected Fellow in the Society of American Foresters in 1985, J. Shelton Horsley Research Award from Virginia Academy of Science in 1983, International Union of Forestry Research Organizations Scientific Achievement Award in 1981, and elected fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1981.

At Virginia Tech, Burkhart served as acting department head from 1991-93, as interim department head in 1995, and as department head from 1995-2008.

In the classroom, Burkhart taught 15 different courses at Virginia Tech and completed 31 master’s degree and 34 Ph.D. students as chair. In addition, he supervised 15 postdoctoral fellows, hosted seven visiting faculty members, and mentored many professionals and faculty members to successful careers in both academic and industrial settings

Burkhart received his bachelor’s degree in forestry from Oklahoma State University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in forest biometrics from the University of Georgia.

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