Professor Mike Wingfield, an internationally recognized expert on tree health, has conducted research on tree pests and pathogens for more than 30 years. Wingfield is the founding director of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Wingfield’s work has contributed to a better understanding of insects and diseases that affect commercial tree plantations, leading to new management practices and solutions. He has been a long-term advisor for major forestry corporations in South Africa and around the world.
To minimize threats to commercial forestry in South Africa, in 1990 Wingfield established the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP), which has become the single largest tree health project in the world. TPCP served as a catalyst for Wingfield to found the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, which has established an international reputation for its research excellence and postgraduate programs for large numbers of students, many from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Wingfield’s research has allowed him to work with and provide mentorship for students from many parts of the world. He has served as an advisor to more than 60 doctoral students and an equal number of master’s students, many of whom now hold senior positions globally. He has been heavily involved in providing educational opportunities for students as part of his commitment to research and education, particularly in the developing world.
One of the most influential forest scientists in the world, Wingfield has published more than 600 research papers and five books about tree health. He has been an invited speaker for plenary addresses and other public lectures internationally. He has served on the boards of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa, the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures in the Netherlands and the International Union for Forestry Research Organizations.
Because of his contributions, Wingfield has been elected as a fellow in a number of scientific societies, including the Royal Society of South Africa, the Academy of Sciences of South Africa, the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology and the American Phytopathological Society. He is one of the few honorary members of the Mycological Society of America.
Wingfield earned a doctorate in plant pathology and entomology from the University of Minnesota in 1983. He completed the advanced management program at Harvard Business School in 2008.