Passing of Professor J. Derek Bewley

17 Mar 2023 12:25 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

It is my sad duty to inform the CSPB-SCBV community of the passing of Professor Derek Bewley. Please take a moment to read an excerpt from Kent Bradford and Henk Hilhorst’s professional obituary which will be available in its entirety in the spring Bulletin of CSPB-SCBV.

Robin Cameron, President of CSPB-SCBV.

in Memoriam: J. Derek Bewley 1943-2023

Kent J. Bradford1 and Henk W. M. Hilhorst2,3

1Seed Biotechnology Center, Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 USA; email:

2Laboratory of Plant Physiology, Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen, The Netherlands and 3University of Cape Town, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, Cape Town, South-Africa; email: and

Dr. J. Derek Bewley, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology (formerly Department of Botany) at the University of Guelph, Canada, passed away due to cancer on February 24, 2023. Derek was a towering figure in seed science over the past five decades, making critical research contributions to a wide diversity of topics. He completed his undergraduate degree in Botany and Biochemistry at the University of London in 1965 and his PhD with Michael Black at the same institution in 1968. He began his research career investigating the action of phytochrome in relation to gibberellin (GA) in stimulating germination of lettuce seeds. He then moved in 1968 to a postdoc with Abe Marcus at the Fox Chase Institute for Cancer Research in Philadelphia. He accepted a faculty position at the University of Calgary, Canada, and continued his work on seed germination and desiccation tolerance. In 1985, Derek moved to the University of Guelph to become the Chair of the Botany Department and to continue his work in seed biology. Derek completed his publishing career by contributing to an Annual Review of Plant Biology article on desiccation tolerance in 2020, his 275th publication. While Derek’s research alone would ensure his recognition as a foundational plant biologist, his authorship of books has added substantially to his reputation and his impact on the field. In collaboration with Michael Black, he published two volumes of the Physiology and Biochemistry of Seeds in Relation to Germination. These books, along with the less research-oriented textbook Seeds: Physiology of Development and Germination (3 editions), introduced a generation of seed biologists to both the history of their field and its future directions. During his career, Derek supervised 46 students to a postgraduate degree, many of whom continued in academic or research professions, and mentored 54 postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists. Nationally and internationally, Derek served as President of the Canadian Society of Plant Biologists and as a Corresponding Member of the American Society of Plant Biologists. He is recognized as a Pioneer Member of the latter organization and also received its Charles Reid Barnes Life Membership Award. Derek, along with his mentor and colleague Michael Black, played critical roles in the establishment of the International Society for Seed Science (ISSS) in 1999. Derek was President-elect from 2002-2005 and President from 2005-2008.

© Canadian Society of Plant Biologists

Corporate Sponsors

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software