Charles Lee Campbell
Charles Lee Campbell was born in Denver, CO on 5 July 1953. He earned both B.S. and M.S. degrees in plant pathology at Colorado State University in 1974 and 1976, respectively, the latter under the direction of J. Altman. After receiving his Ph.D. degree from Pennsylvania State University in 1978, under the direction of S. P. Pennypacker, Dr. Campbell became an assistant professor of plant pathology at North Carolina State University in 1979. He was promoted to associate professor in 1985 and to full professor in 1991.
Dr. Campbell was, first and foremost, a pioneer leader in the quantitative epidemiology of plant diseases, particularly root diseases. Through his innovative research, including extensive collaborative projects, he introduced new and rigorous approaches for ecological studies of soilborne and foliage pathogens and the epidemiology of related diseases. These contributions focused on statistical and predictive models for characterizing pathogen spatial patterns, pathogen dispersal patterns, and a range of factors that affect pattern ontogeny during the development of disease epidemics. He was a pioneer in using electronic data collection and management devices, and guided development of software for statistical description and analysis of spatial and temporal patterns of epidemic development. He also documented the effects of environment as well as host genotype and pathogen variant on the shape of disease progress curves and the rate of disease progress. His contributions to our understanding the nature of spatial patterns of soilborne pathogens, including a range of nematode species and fungi, provided fundamental information that is employed worldwide to improve population assessment technologies so essential to precision agriculture.
Dr. Campbell collaborated on numerous pathosystems in both temperate and tropical climates that ranged from Phytophthora root rot and leaf blights, tobacco blue mold, charcoal rot, papaya ringspot, Cercospora on clover, and Cylindrocladium on peanut and a variety of nematode species. Dr. Campbell knew no boundaries of nationality, gender, ethnicity, or age. He worked with international scientists and students from countries as diverse as Mexico, the Netherlands, Angola, Nepal, Egypt, Peru, Scotland, and a variety of Asian countries. He participated in regular instruction of introductory epidemiology in Mexico and in an epidemiology project of classified status in South America.
In 1989, he accepted a leadership position in the agricultural lands component of the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program. This provided an opportunity to extend principles of epidemiology on a regional scale toward development of a paradigm of environmental health. His involvement with this program led to research in investigation of effects of global climate change on crop production, use of nematode communities as bioindicators of soil quality, and development and evaluation of numerous other indicators of use in monitoring agroecosystem health in related fields of entomology, landscape ecology, soil science, and agronomy.
Dr. Campbell was a scholar in the finest sense of the word. In addition to his world-class reputation as a plant pathologist, he had a desire to understand and support research in other disciplines that would enrich his own. He had a passionate desire to understand the complex historical forces that shaped plant pathology and continue to influence the science today. His last book, The Formative Years of Plant Pathology in the United States, underscores the central role that plant pathology played in formative conceptual and institutional developments within biology and the agricultural sciences generally. This book has received glowing reviews from both the scientific and historical communities.
Dr. Campbell was superb in working with graduate and undergraduate students. This included outstanding teaching of courses on botanical epidemiology, diseases of field crops, and the history of plant pathology. He also served as an advisor or co-adviser on thesis research projects because of his exceptional expertise in statistics, epidemiology, and related modeling. His insight, knowledge, and even temperament, as well as his highly productive programs, attracted graduate and undergraduate students. This is documented through his working in an advisory capacity with more than 100 students at both levels.
Dr. Campbell also sought out involvement in committees and councils specifically aimed at identifying and shepherding outstanding students. Approximately 50% of his time commitment for 1994 to 1997 was devoted to his being director of the University Honors Council. He held similar appointments on the University Scholars Program Advisory Board (1994 to 1996), the Park Scholarship Committee (1996), and as chair of the Parks Scholars Faculty Advisory Committee at NCSU since 1997.
Dedicated service to plant pathology and to APS was the essence of Dr. Campbell’s professional life. While managing widely recognized research and academic programs, he always was deeply devoted to APS. This is reflected in his work on many committees and service as an officer. Dr. Campbell also was president and secretary-treasurer of the Southern Division of APS. He completed a term as editor-in-chief of Phytopathology News, and served as president of APS.
Professional honors and awards for Dr. Campbell include his membership in Sigma Xi, Gamma Sigma Delta, and Phi Beta Kappa, and the Commendation for Meritorious Service by North Carolina State University. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1997.
The combination of Dr. Campbell’s research and other scholarly publications resulted in enviable achievement. His national and international recognition was reflected by frequent guest lectures, seminars, and other invited presentations, totaling approximately 55 talks. In addition to 77 refereed research articles, 30 book chapters, and seven textbooks, he had more than 100 other publications. Clearly, his epidemiology and history of plant pathology textbooks are unmatched contributions to our science.