Dr. William Meyer is a professor and Director of the Turfgrass Breeding Program and the C. Reed Funk Distinguished Professor of Turfgrass Genetics at the School of Biological and Environmental Science, New Jersey Agr Experiment Station, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. The focus of his career, since 1972, has been to use classical breeding approaches to improve cool-season turgrasses with enhanced disease, insect and drought/ stress tolerance. He is also searching for turfgrass cultivars that are sustainable with reduced inputs of fertilizer. This program that he directs is the largest and most successful in the world for cool-season turfgrasses. Special emphasis has been placed on broadening the genetic resources of these grasses which are native to Europe. He has also advised and trained 16 MS and PhD students who are now leaders in the US and China. He has worked with over 30 other seed organizations and released over 450 improved cultivars of 11 different turfgrass species.
The greatest impact from the turf breeding project has been the identification of gray leaf spot resistance in perennial ryegrass that has resulted in more than 40 new cultivars. Another noteable project is the discovery of sources of resistance in tall fescue for gray leaf spot resistance . A new rainout shelter at Adelphia, NJ has provided us an oppotunity to select tall fescue cultivars that will remain dense and green after 80 days of no irrigation or rain.