Hui-lin Li

Hui-lin Li

Photo credit: University Archives

Born in the Chinese city of Soochow, near Shanghai, the acclaimed botanist Hui-lin Li first came to the United States in 1940, when he enrolled in a doctoral program in biology at Harvard University. Just two years later, he had his Ph.D., and one year after that, Penn came calling. Li would remain with the University for much of the rest of his career, serving as director of the Morris Arboretum from 1971 to 1974 and thereafter as the first John Bartram Professor of Botany until his retirement in 1979.

Li (pictured here with his “miniature trees”) was a consistent researcher and writer even after his 1979 retirement from Penn, authoring more than 200 papers and nine books between 1932 and 1983. Among those publications was the massive “Flora of Taiwan,” for which Li served as editorial director. The six-volume work included profiles of more than 228 different plant families, including 1,360 genera and 3,577 species.

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Originally published on February 7, 2008