Haig Dermen, a research scientist who worked for 30 years in genetics and development of plant structure at the Beltsville station of the Department of Agriculture, died Sunday at his home in Berwyn Heights after a long illness. He was 81.

Dr. Dermen was born and reared in an Armenian village in Turkey until his family was forced into exile at the beginning of World War I. In 1920 he immigrated to the United States and attended Connecticut Agricultural College, where he graduated in 1927 with a bachelor of arts degree in botany.

He later taught and did additional study at the University of Maine. In 1934, he received a Ph.D. in botany and genetics from Harvard University.

He then joined the Department of Agriculture's bureau of plant industry at the Beltsville research Center, where he worked as a research scientist until his retirement in 1965.

Dr. Dermen published over 80 research papers on plant genetics, cell structure, polypoidy, and related subjects. He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Horticultural Society, and the American Genetic Association.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret, of the home in Berwyn Heights; two sons, Air Force Lt. Col. Armen Dermen of Mountain Home, Idaho, and Diran Dermen of Princeton, N.J.; a daughter, Susan Bruzenak of Norristown, Pa.; a sister, Flora Boyajian of Schenectady, N.Y.; and six grandchildren.