Focus on Faculty
Pete Bettinger, a professor in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, uses his experiences in private industry and as a researcher to help his students become more competent and confident in their professional abilities.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in forestry from Virginia Tech, and my doctorate was earned through the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. Currently, I am a professor and the graduate coordinator for the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. My responsibilities involve teaching and research in forest management, measurements and planning.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I came to the University of Georgia in 2002 because the Warnell School is one of the best programs in the country, and the challenges facing forest management and planning in the South are intriguing. We also have family in the state and surrounding region, and moving closer to them (from Oregon) was another motivation to work for the University of Georgia.
What are your favorite courses and why?
FANR 3000 (“Field Orientation and Measurements”) is one of my favorite courses, although it involves a lot of work (two lectures and two labs per week). However, it is fun to observe the evolution of students as they become more confident in their abilities to work outdoors and to collect land and vegetation measurements. FORS 8450 (“Advanced Forest Planning”) is also enjoyable because it usually attracts forestry and computer science or artificial intelligence graduate students.
What interests you about your field?
The practice of forestry entails everything from growing trees to accounting, finance, transportation, mapping, statistics, policy analysis and basic biological sciences. When I was an undergraduate student I was interested in both ecology and management, and thus I naturally found myself interested in the business side of forestry. Society has great challenges ahead, such as balancing the need for wood and paper products with human demand. Being able to contribute to this dialogue through science and policy analysis is rewarding.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
My highlights include being honored with a couple of teaching awards within the School of Forestry and Natural Resources, and being honored with the 2009 Award of Excellence in Research and Development by the Southeastern Division of the Society of American Foresters.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
There are many ways in which my research activities inform and inspire my teaching efforts. The examples I use in the classes I teach usually arise from experience I acquired while working in private industry, as a consultant or through research activities. The examples range from personnel management to harvest scheduling methods, remote sensing methods and GIS (geographic information system) analyses.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
I always hope that students who have completed my courses are more competent and confident in their professional abilities.
Describe your ideal student.
One that can collect, examine and analyze information, and communicate why things are the way they are.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
Walking around South Campus.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
“Like” is problematic. Most of my free time is spent repairing things around the home, tending to the garden, cutting grass and so on.
Community/civic involvement includes…
I have been active on the editorial boards of several journals, and involved with various efforts of the Society of American Foresters. My colleagues and I also have written a few textbooks that are being used throughout the world.
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
I don't have a favorite book, but in the last few years I have enjoyed reading biographies of Oppenheimer, Teller, Fermi, Einstein and Bohr. Beyond their accomplishments, it is interesting to learn what kind of person they were. My wife would be embarrassed if I were to reveal my favorite movie, but I like dramas and comedies.
Proudest moment at UGA?
Every graduation ceremony.
(Originally published on Feb. 16, 2014)