Michael T. Clegg

Michael T. Clegg

Emeritus Professor of Biological Sciences
Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, University of California, Irvine

Michael T. Clegg received his BS and PhD degrees in agricultural genetics and genetics respectively at the University of California, Davis. In 1972 he joined the faculty of Brown University moving from there to the University of Georgia in 1976. In 1984, he became Professor of Genetics at the University of California, Riverside. He also served as Dean of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at UC Riverside from 1994 to 2000 and he was the founding Director of the Genomics Institute at UC Riverside, serving from 2000 to 2004. In 2004 he assumed his present position as Donald Bren Professor of Biological at the University of California, Irvine.

During an academic career of more than 40 years, Dr.Clegg’s research specialty is population genetics and molecular evolution. He has published over 160 research articles and book chapters and he has coauthored or edited nine books. In molecular evolution, Clegg pioneered the use of molecular methods for the study of plant evolution, first by showing that chloroplast DNA sequences evolve slowly relative to plant nuclear genes, and then by demonstrating how maximum likelihood analyses could be used to infer plant phylogenetic relationships at deep levels of plant evolution. In population genetics, Clegg combined empirical studies with statistical and mathematical analyses to show that correlations between genes (linkage disequilibrium) interact with selection to decay at accelerated rates, thereby demonstrating the importance of recombination in population dynamics. In recent work, Clegg and his students have shown that gene conversion is at least as important as crossing over as a recombinational mechanism for generating haplotypic diversity. Clegg has also employed genetics to study crop plant domestication with special reference to barley and avocado. Recent work has established that barley was domesticated at least twice.

Clegg was elected to membership in the US National Academy of Sciences in 1990; elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1992 and elected a Member of the American Philosophical Society in 2012. He was elected associate Fellow of the Academy of Sciences of the Developing World (TWAS) in 2006. He is a corresponding Member of the National Academy of Exact Physical and Natural Sciences of Argentina, the Academia de Agronomia and Veterinaria of Argentina, the Academia Mexicana de Ciencias, the Cuban Academy of Sciences and he is an Honorary Fellow of the Palestinian Academy of Sciences. He was elected Foreign Secretary of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2002 and reelected in 2006 and in 2010. He has also served as President of the American Genetic Association (1987), President of the International Society for Molecular Biology & Evolution (2002) and Chair of the Section on Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2003).