Scientists & Staff

Paula M. Pijut, PhD

Paula M. Pijut

Emeritus Research Plant Physiologist
Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center
715 West State Street
West Lafayette, IN, 47907-2061
Phone: 765-496-2162

Contact Paula M. Pijut

Current Research

Paula M. Pijut is a Research Plant Physiologist with the Northern Research Station, Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (HTIRC) located on the campus of Purdue University, and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Dept. of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Dept. of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Purdue University. Paula received her B.S. in Medical Technology from Maryville College of the Sacred Heart, her M.S. in Horticulture from Murray State University, and her Ph.D. in Horticulture from The Ohio State University. Paula has worked for the USDA Forest Service since 1989, and joined the HTIRC in 2001.

The HTIRC is a collaborative regional research, development, and technology transfer effort between industry, university, private, state and federal entities to advance tree improvement of central hardwoods for increased forest productivity in hardwood restoration and reforestation programs. The national mission of the HTIRC is to advance the science of hardwood tree improvement, genomics, physiology, protection, and utilization in the hardwood region of the U.S. by: developing and disseminating knowledge on improving the genetic quality of hardwood tree species and conserving fine hardwood germplasm; developing elite hardwood trees for restoration and regeneration of sustainable hardwood forests and riparian zones for production of forest products and maintenance of genetically diverse ecosystems; increasing knowledge and developing systems for nursery production and plantation establishment; increasing knowledge and developing strategies for protection, utilization, and marketing of the hardwood resource; and developing recognized and respected science leaders in forest genetics, physiology, regeneration, protection, and utilization.


Research Interests

Paula’s research program focuses on plant cell, tissue, and organ culture for tree improvement and production. Her research is applied and fundamental directed toward germplasm improvement to increase resistance or tolerance to biotic or abiotic stressors. Her research interests include the physiological, anatomical, and biochemical bases for defense mechanisms to pathogen infection, development of protocols for in vitro selection, somatic embryogenesis, micropropagation, genetic transformation, clonal propagation, and induction of flowering in forest tree species, with subsequent acclimatization of plant material to the greenhouse and field environments. Current species of interest are black walnut, northern red oak, black cherry, butternut, white oak, and green, white, and black ash. Paula hopes to expand her research program in the near future, to cover species such as elm, chestnut, and beech, by developing collaborative projects with other scientists.

Why This Research is Important

Hardwood trees are economically and ecologically valuable resources in the north-central region of the United States. Hardwood trees are planted for timber production, wildlife habitat, riparian buffers, native woodland restoration, windbreaks, watershed protection, erosion control, and for conservation. Fine hardwood lumber is used for cabinetry, furniture, veneer, paneling, architectural moldings, and flooring. Our research program will improve fine hardwood species for growth rate, form, disease- and pest-resistance, and other wood quality traits.


  • The Ohio State University, Ph.D. Horticulture, 1988
  • Murray State University, M.S. Horticulture, 1984
  • Maryville College of the Sacred Heart, B.S. Medical Technology, 1975

Professional Organizations

  • Society for In Vitro Biology (SIVB) (1989 - Current)
  • Indiana Academy of Science (2009 - 2017)
  • International Plant Propagators Society (2002 - 2017)
  • American Society of Plant Biologists (1991 - 2017)
  • International Association for Plant Biotechnology (1991 - 2017)
  • Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society (1988 - 2017)
  • American Society for Horticultural Science (1981 - 2017)
  • Walnut Council (2012 - 2014)
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (1992 - 2013)

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Last modified: Thursday, February 22, 2018