Seed Biotechnology Center
Seed Biotechnology Center
Seed Biotechnology Center
University of California
Seed Biotechnology Center

SBC Announces Retirement of Michael Campbell


Mike CampbellDavis, California, USA
November 1, 2010

The UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center (SBC) today announces the retirement of its Executive Director, Mr. Michael Campbell. Mike has been involved in the SBC since its inception, and while we are sad to lose his valuable contributions, we wish him the best in his retirement activities.

Mike Campbell became involved with the SBC when it was a concept in 1996.  As the Assistant Dean for College Relations, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis, he led the fund-raising process to establish the SBC and to build the facilities in which it is now housed in, the Plant Reproductive Biology building.  In 2000, he became Associate Vice Chancellor of University Relations for the new University of California, Merced. However, he continued to be involved with the SBC as a member of our Advisory Council.  In August 2007, Mike returned to the SBC as its executive director. 

As executive director, Mike was a key leader on several growth initiatives.  He was instrumental in expanding the Plant Breeding Academy program to Europe in response to a thorough industry investigation which indicated strong support for such a program.   He also led the initial effort to expand the Plant Breeding Academy to Asia.

Mike conceived the concept of an American Seed Research Summit and worked with the American Seed Trade Association and other groups to organize it in September 2008. The Summit brought together over 40 research leaders from industry, academia and government to discuss critical challenges facing the seed and plant breeding research community.  Participants worked through a structured workshop format to identify and prioritize the key research topics and policy issues facing the seed industry and to formulate strategies to address them. These goals are guiding public and industry funding today.

Building on a long and productive relationship between Chile and California, in June 2008 an agreement was signed at UC Davis by Chilean President Batchelet and California Governor Schwarzenegger to strengthen research and teaching collaborations in the areas of crop genetics and plant breeding.  The SBC is the primary campus partner in this agreement.  Mike played an important role in developing the relationships to make this agreement happen.  The Chile-California Partnership is continuing, with a recent visit from the Chilean Minister of Agriculture to the campus to discuss specific projects.

Mike developed key partnerships to raise collaborative funds and to connect key project leaders to conduct a comprehensive survey on the needs for plant breeding curricula around the world.  This study, completed in spring 2010 (publications are in press), reached out to more than 200 experts. The compiled data will help educators prepare high-quality breeders for the seed industry, while building on the individual strengths of different universities. By bringing a wide range of opinions into program development and curriculum design, particularly from working commercial breeders, students can be better prepared for the future.

California seed companies generated an estimated $2.9 billion in gross revenue from seed sales worldwide in 2008, according to a UC Davis economic study of the California seed industry.  Under Mike’s leadership, the California Seed Advisory board funded the project in partnership with the UC Davis Agricultural Issues Center.

More recently, Mike has been involved with Seed Central CONNECTS and other industry collaboration meetings.  These events are designed to connect university seed and plant scientists and students with seed industry leaders.   The first CONNECTS event featured a presentation by Dr. Simon Chan of UC Davis who spoke on how his research led to a breakthrough in plant breeding methods.

The Center’s programs and staff have grown during the past three years under Mike’s leadership.  Mike was involved with hiring Dr. Rale Gjuric, Plant Breeding Academy director, Jamie Shattuck, UC Discovery Fellow, Joy Patterson, Plant Breeding Academy program representative and Donna Van Dolah, administrative assistant.  This growth has allowed the SBC to better meet the needs of the seed industry.

The Seed Biotechnology Center is grateful for the important contributions that Mike has made to the Center and to our stakeholders.  His incredible ability to build teams and networks for the SBC will be sorely missed. However, all of our best wishes go to Mike for a happy and healthy retirement and his continued involvement in agriculture.

For more information please contact Sue DiTomaso, Seed Biotechnology Center,

The Seed Biotechnology Center was established at UC Davis in 1999 to mobilize the research, educational and outreach resources of the University of California in partnership with the seed and biotechnology industries, and to facilitate discovery and commercialization of new seed technologies for agricultural and consumer benefits.



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