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C. Lee Campbell Student Travel Award

Colleagues and friends established this award in honor and memory of C. Lee Campbell for the contributions that he made to the science of plant pathology though his research, teaching, and service. (Written by Paul D. Peterson and Turner B. Sutton.)


C. Lee Campbell

C. Lee Campbell was born on July 5, 1953, in Denver, CO, the son of Charles and Mary Jane Campbell. He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in plant pathology from Colorado State University in 1974 and 1976, respectively, the latter under the direction of J. Altman. After receiving a 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 (NCSU) in 1979. He was promoted to associate professor in 1985 and professor in 1991. Campbell passed away on July 13, 1999.

Dr. Campbell was an internationally respected scientist and an important figure in plant pathology. A pioneer in botanical epidemiology, his specialty was quantitative descriptions and spatial and temporal patterns of epidemiology of both soilborne and foliar diseases. Through his research, he tested the validity and application of concepts introduced by van der Plank, Kranz, and others. He was a leader in using electronic data collection and management devices and guided the development of software for statistical description and analysis of spatial and/or temporal patterns of epidemic development. From 1989–1995, he assumed a leadership position in the Agricultural Lands Component of the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program. This provided an opportunity for him to extend principles of epidemiology on a regional scale toward the development of a paradigm of environmental health. He authored several standard texts on these subjects, including Introduction to Plant Disease Epidemiology with L. V. Madden. His national and international recognition also is reflected by frequent guests lectures, seminars, and other invited presentations, totaling some 55 talks. In addition to 77 refereed research articles, 30 book chapters, and seven textbooks, he had more than 100 other publications.

As is known widely, Dr. Campbell had a passionate interest in history, which alone set him apart from many of his colleagues, and this interest allowed him to cultivate a unique outlook on plant pathology. His name will be remembered along with those of H. H. Whetzel, A. D. Rodgers, E. C. Large, and G. C. Ainsworth as one of the premier historians of plant pathology. His first publication in history, just out of graduate school, was a translation of the Fisher/Smith controversy as a Phytopathology Classic. From the time of his arrival at NCSU, Dr. Campbell taught a course on the history of plant pathology, a course that continues today. The Formative Years of Plant Pathology in the United States, co-authored with P. D. Peterson and C.S. Griffith, was published by APS PRESS. Nearly a decade of research and writing culminated in the first scholarly examination of the rise of plant pathology within the larger context of American biology and agriculture. Dr. Campbell noted in the preface to the Formative Years that “an occasional glance back into the history of our science does not impede the quest for new knowledge. In fact, such a retrospective glance benefits the disciple as practitioners develop a more complete view of the formation and growth of their science.”

Dr. Campbell believed that an appointment as a university professor carried with it scholarly responsibilities beyond those of a research scientist. During his career, he was major professor to 13 graduate students and served on virtually every student’s graduate committee in the Department of Plant Pathology at NCSU whose thesis problem dealt with any aspect of epidemiology. Professor Campbell was a superb teacher. His courses on Botanical Epidemiology and the History of Plant Pathology were prominent in the Plans of Work of many of the department’s graduate students. He once wrote that “graduate students are the very life blood, the future of our profession. What is clear, however,” Professor Campbell continued, “is that now more than ever we need to consider the needs of those students who come to our doors as they embark on their lifelong careers in scientific inquiry. We can never be satisfied that our curriculum or our graduate program is the best possible; there is always a need for change. It defines our world and our profession.”

Soon after Professor Campbell joined the faculty he became an advisor to undergraduate students. Over the next 20 years he became involved in virtually all of the undergraduate honors programs at NCSU. He served on the University Scholars Program Advisory Board, the Park Scholarship Committee, and the University Honors Council, where he served as director. He also was active in both Sigma Xi and Phi Beta Kappa and served as local chapter president for both societies. For his service to the university, he received a Commendation for Meritorious Service and a Media Award of Excellence.

Professor Campbell’s activities were linked always to identifying and sheperding outstanding students. As editor-in-chief of Phytopathology News between 1991 and 1995, he wrote passionately on the need to involve undergraduates on science research programs. “How many of us had opportunities to participate in summer research as undergraduates?,” he asked plant pathologists. Realizing that most had benefited significantly from these “memorial experiences,” Professor Campbell challenged his colleagues to “take time now to plan not only how many student assistants you need to hire for the spring and summer, but also how you will help those students learn about science and research through their experiences in your research program. Take time to help those students gain an appreciation for the wonders of science and the excitement of research.”

Dr. Campbell’s commitment to plant pathology went far beyond research, writing, and teaching. From the time he was a graduate student at the Pennsylvania State University, he became involved in The American Phytopathological Society, first as a member of the Phytopathological Classics Committee. He eventually served as secretary-treasurer, vice president, president-elect, and president of APS, one of the youngest scientists to ever hold that office. He also served as editor of Phytopathology News from 1990 to 1995. Perhaps no single individual had a greater impact on APS during the 1990s. Dr. Campbell was involved in virtually every major decision of the society. Dr. Campbell helped membership in numerous honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, and Gamma Sigma Delta. In recognition of his many scientific achievements, Dr. Campbell was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1997 and, post-humously, Fellow of APS in 2000.