Paula M. Pijut was a Research Plant Physiologist with the Northern Research Station, Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (HTIRC), and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Dept. of Forestry and Natural Resources and Adjunct Associate Professor in 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 germ plasm; 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.
Paula’s research program focused on plant cell, tissue, and organ culture for tree improvement and production. Her research was applied and fundamental directed toward germplasm improvement to increase resistance or tolerance to biotic or abiotic stressors. Her research interests included 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.