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 Clegg has published approximately 170 research articles and book chapters and he has coauthored or edited nine books. Clegg’s research specialty is population genetics and molecular evolution. His current work focuses on the molecular evolution of genes that determine flower color in plants, the genetic history of crop plant domestication and the application of molecular markers to avocado improvement.
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).