Elizabeth McCarty grew up in wooded central Louisiana and coastal Alabama. Her fascination with the natural world, developed during her childhood, has been a constant in her life. It has led her to study insects from coastal river deltas to the Smoky Mountains. She is a forest Health Specialist with the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. Elizabeth received her MS in Biology from the University of South Alabama, where she did research on coastal insect and plant communities in natural settings. She then earned a PhD from the University of Tennessee where she worked with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to do an assessment of their hemlock woolly adelgid IPM program. This work included studying the effectiveness of insecticide treatments in different size hemlock trees and assessing non-target impacts to aquatic insect communities.
McCarty began working as the University of Georgia Forest Health Specialist after receiving her PhD in 2016. She is located on the Tifton campus and has an Extension and research appointment. Her Extension audiences include Georgia citizens, UGA Extension, numerous state forestry agencies, and federal agencies. She provides guidance on forest pests, tree diseases, insecticide use, environmental risks of pesticides, and pollinator habitat. She lead the “Trees for Bees” project, which was a collaborative project between UGA College of Agriculture and Environmental Science and the Warnell School. The team developed outreach materials to promote pollinator habitats in urban and suburban forests. She continues to work on promoting habitat value for Georgia citizens.
Her hemlock insecticide work was developed into an outreach effort for optimizing hemlock insecticide dosages by tree diameter, which leads to reduced insecticide use. Since then, optimized dosages have been adopted as standard practice by numerous state agencies and national parks. Over 100,000 hemlock trees have been treated with the optimized dosage method. McCarty provides guidance for state and federal agencies with both effective insecticide use and minimizing environmental impacts.
She is partnering with the Georgia Forestry Commission to provide Extension assistance on forest health issues, such as hemlock woolly adelgid, sugarberry decline, and post-Hurricane Michael forest insect issues.
Soon after moving to Georgia, McCarty began a research program for the Nantucket pine tip moth, a pest of young pine stands. Research projects include systemic insecticide use for NPTM suppression, non-target impacts of insecticides in young pine stands, and PTM generation timing. In addition, she continues to work with insecticide risks for hemlock woolly adelgid management in natural forests.