Richard Meilan

Associate Professor of Molecular Tree Physiology
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources
Pfendler Hall, room G021E
715 W. State Street
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN  47907-2061
tel: 765-496-2287
fax: 765-494-9461


Research Interests

  • Regulation of the transition to heartwood formation in hardwoods
  • Genes involved in controlling the production of figure wood
  • Genetically engineered pest resistance
  • Flowering control
  • Phytoremediation
  • Biofuels

Recent Publications

Recent Grants

  • Mary S. Rice Foundation, Purdue University; “Fertigating poplar plantations to assess productivity effects”; R. Meilan, D.L. Cassens, and D.E. Carlson; $10,000; 03/01/10-02/28/11 .
  • Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research (CPBR); Improving water relations of Populus for use as a bioenergy crop; R. Meilan; 06/01/09-05/31/11; $103,037.
  • DOE, Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy; "Manipulation of lignin biosynthesis to maximize ethanol production from Populus feedstocks" ; C.C.S. Chapple, M.R. Ladisch, and R. Meilan; $1,400,000; 11/01/06-10/31/10.
  • Energy Center , Discovery Park ; "Engineering of Poplar for Bio-ethanol Production: An Integrated Approach"; C.C.S. Chapple, M.R. Ladisch, and R. Meilan; $50,000; 06/01/06-05/31/07.

  • DOE Poplar Genome-based Research for Carbon Sequestration in Terrestrial Ecosystems program; "Genome-enabled Modification of Poplar Root Development for Increased Carbon Sequestration"; R. Meilan, V.B. Busov, T.J. Tschaplinski; $1,219,940; 08/01/05-07/31/09.

  • Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research; "Development of Herbicide-tolerant Hardwoods"; R. Meilan, C.H. Michler, P.M. Pijut, and J.R. Seifert; $81,000; 07/05 to 06/07.

  • National Science Foundation; "Center for Tree Genetics: The Formation of a Joint NSF I/UCRC between Purdue University and Oregon State University"; C.H. Michler and R. Meilan; $399,999.

  • Voluntary support for investigating the genetic and phenotypic basis for figured wood in poplar; $20,000.
  • CPBR; “Modification of gibberellin metabolism to enhance productivity, wood quality, and biosafety”; R. Meilan (PI), V.B. Busov, and S.H. Strauss; 01/04 12/05; $71,990.
  • USDA Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program (BRARGP); “Field tests of transgene confinement strategies in trees: Evaluation of ablation, gene suppression, and flowering onset genes in poplar”; R. Meilan (PI), A.M. Brunner, and S.H. Strauss; $358,000; 9/03-8/06.
  • U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration; “Genome-Enabled Discovery of Carbon Sequestration Genes in Populus”; S.H. Strauss, R. Meilan, and A.M. Brunner; $1,180,386.
  • College of Forestry Innovative Grant, “Douglas-fir Genomics in Interdisciplinary Research in Forest Science”; A. Brunner, G. Howe, B. Bond, R. Meilan, S. Strauss; $60,000; FY02-03.
  • USDA-CSREES, “Phase Change and Seasonal Floral Initiation in Populus” A.M. Brunner and R. Meilan, $115,300; 8/1/02-7/31/04.
  • Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research (CPBR); “Genetic Engineering to Maintain High biomass Productivity in Transgenic Sterile Trees”; R. Meilan (PI), S.H. Strauss, and A.M. Brunner; $52,500; 7/02-6/04.
  • CPBR; “Identification of Major Genes via Activation Tagging in Populus; S.H. Strauss, A.M. Brunner, R. Meilan; $37,500; 7/02-6/04.
  • DOE; “Accelerated Domestication of Populus”; S.H. Strauss and R. Meilan; $50,000; 3/02-3/10.
  • DOE/Agenda 2020; “Development and validation of sterility systems for trees”; A.M. Brunner, S.H. Strauss, and R. Meilan; $587,893; 10/01-9/04.

Proposals Pending

  • USDA International Science and Education (ISE) pre-proposal. “A multi-disciplinary and integrated research and teaching project: Learning from China’s experiences of vegetation restoration on marginal lands.” Guofan Shao, John Bickham, Holly Wang, and Rick Meilan; Purdue share: $48,844; 09/01/2010-08/31/2013.

  • The Consortium for Plant Biotechnology Research pre-proposal. “The genetic basis for figured wood in poplar”; Rick Meilan and Cliff Weil.

  • U.S. Department of State; “Climate change fellows program”; J.W. Bickham, R. Meilan, P. Sharma, G. Shao, H. Wang; $500,000; 09/01/10-08/31/12.

  • U.S. Department of Defense pre-proposal; “Transgenic Poplars for Remediation of a Wide Range of Environmental Pollutants”; R. Meilan.

Expectations for Ph.D. Students

A student completing a Ph.D. program should:

  1. Have personal motivation, curiosity, and enthusiasm for becoming a scientist;

  2. Have a broad knowledge of the philosophy, history, and current state of science;
  3. Be competent in major techniques used in molecular biology research, including statistical, field, and laboratory methods;
  4. Be able to think clearly, critically, and creatively-beyond the level expected for students seeking an M.S. degree;
  5. Routinely read the scientific literature in general, and be fully informed regarding the state of science within your chosen field of study;
  6. Be able to communicate clearly and effectively, in written and oral presentations (N.B., We have a one-year probationary period during which Ph.D. students must write a research article or a research proposal (in English) to demonstrate that they are capable of successfully completing their program of study); and
  7. Reach the following milestones:
  • Coursework plan developed by end of first semester;
  • Research plan developed by end of second semester;
  • Steady progress on research (frequent meetings with the student will be used to gauge progress); and
  • Submission of at least one original research paper before graduation, and at least two more papers ready for submission near the time of graduation. The total number of papers will vary by project, and allowances will be made for cases in which large (monograph) papers are prepared. (N.B., People who successfully compete for good jobs after graduation tend to exceed this level of productivity by 50-100% during their Ph.D. programs.)

Useful Links


Tree Biotechnology Resources


Agricultural Biotechnology Resources

Sequence Databases

Biosafety and Regulation Resources