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Renowned plant biologist named new vice-principal (research) at U of T Scarborough

Professor Malcolm Campbell will join UTSC as the new vice-principal (research) on Aug. 1.

Professor Malcolm Campbell, a world-renowned leader in plant biology, has been named vice-principal (research) at the University of Toronto Scarborough for a five-year term, effective August 1.

“I am really excited to be joining the UTSC team,” said Campbell. “Research at UTSC encompasses both incredible breadth and depth, and the attraction for me is the idea of entering into such a diverse and dynamic environment where people are already clearly capitalizing on their ideas and research successes. UTSC represents the very best of the University of Toronto, particularly in research, with strengths that cover such a wealth of different areas.”

Campbell is a leading expert in plant biology as well as an international authority on the regulation of gene expression in plants and the biochemical composition of plant matter. His research focuses on making sense of the instructions present within a plant – its genome – and how those instructions are turned into a functional organism. Recent studies have focused on finding ways to help plants better acclimate to global climate change, fix carbon, contend with drought, and function as better sources of carbon in order to produce renewable energy in the form of biofuels. His research scope includes molecular biology and biotechnology, systems biology and bioinformatics, cell and developmental biology, functional genomics and genetics.

Born in Montreal, Campbell has a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Guelph and an MA (Oxon) from the University of Oxford. He worked in France for two years on an international research project funded by the European Union before moving to North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He later joined the faculty at Oxford, where he developed his own research group in the department of plant sciences and earned a Teaching Excellence Award, the first for the 350-year-old department. Campbell has been at the University of Toronto since 2004, and is currently a professor and associate chair of graduate studies in the department of cell and systems biology on the St. George campus.

“We are delighted to have a researcher and administrative leader of Malcolm Campbell’s calibre joining our community,” said Professor Franco Vaccarino, principal of U of T Scarborough and vice-president of the University of Toronto. “With our commitment to expanding our research platform, Professor Campbell’s arrival marks a tremendous opportunity to build on our foundation of academic and research excellence. Professor Campbell’s research leadership will be an important catalyst as we continue to enhance our focus on innovation and discovery.”

Published widely, Campbell maintains connections with many scientific organizations and has various professional affiliations. He has guest lectured at dozens of institutions around the world and has supervised many doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers. He has served on a number of scientific bodies, including the Canadian Society of Plant Physiology and the Institute of Forest Biotechnology. Campbell contributes as an editorial board member, reviewer and author for numerous journals. He has served on committees for one of Canada’s key science granting agencies, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC), and is the recipient of multiple research grants.

Campbell sees himself as a facilitator for the campus research community. “UTSC is going through remarkable growth, with equally remarkable successes in research, and it’s wonderful to take on a position where I can champion these successes and build on them,” he said. “My approach will be to nurture grassroots initiatives by supporting talented researchers as they convert today’s ideas into future discoveries and innovations. I look forward to communicating UTSC research excellence to the world at large, and ensuring that this excellence garners the attention and support it deserves. In fact, I am phenomenally enthusiastic about taking on this role.”

Campbell succeeds Professor John Coleman, whose term ended in November 2008, and Professor Mark Schmuckler, who has been serving as interim vice-principal (research).

© University of Toronto Scarborough