Iowa State University Alumni Association

Theodore Crosbie 2015

BS '73 Agricultural and Life Sciences Education 1973; MS '76 Plant Breeding and Cytogenetics; PhD '78 Agronomy
Earlham, Iowa

Ted Crosbie found his calling under the hot August sun in an Iowa cornfield as a first-year graduate student at Iowa State. A conversation with Norman Borlaug put his future in focus. Borlaug challenged Crosbie’s thesis and simply told him to “choose a topic that mattered next time.” The two became good friends later in life and the rest, as they say, is history.

Crosbie kept the spirit of Borlaug’s advice alive during a highly successful career in plant breeding and cytogenetics, primarily with Monsanto. From 1999-2010, his work as head of the company’s global plant breeding division helped address critical issues of food insecurity at more than 100 sites in 20 countries and earned him recognition as a Monsanto Distinguished Fellow in Science. Monsanto estimates that the hybrids and varieties developed by its global breeding team account for 40 percent of global row crop production from farmer-purchased seed. Since retiring as vice president and executive leader of Monsanto Integrated Farming Systems in 2014, Crosbie has served as a consultant and special advisor to the company’s executive team.

In 2005, Gov. Tom Vilsack named Crosbie chief technology officer for the State of Iowa – an appointment that was renewed by Gov. Chet Culver in 2007 and by Gov. Terry Branstad in 2011. Crosbie co-founded the Biosciences Alliance of Iowa (BAI) and chaired the organization from 2004-2010. BAI worked with the Iowa Department of Economic Development (IDED) to establish the Technology and Commercialization program that has funded more than 140 startup companies, with an impressive 80 percent success rate. He has chaired the Iowa Innovation Council, which has served as a think tank for innovation-based economic development for the IDED, since its inception in 2011.

Today, Crosbie is a member of the boards of Renewable Energy Group, Titan Machinery Inc., the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Kemin Industries, Blue River Technologies, and Kaiima Biotechnology, as well as an active member of the Iowa State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences advisory council. He is a past recipient of the college’s Floyd Andre Award and was also recognized in 2013 by Gov. Branstad with a lifetime achievement award from Iowa Innovation Corporation for his efforts to support innovation and job creation.

In addition to his work as a scientist, Crosbie lives on a 289-acre farm near Earlham, Iowa, with his wife, Rowena, and enjoys managing about 1,000 total acres of Iowa farmland.

Crosbie is an ISU Alumni Association life member.


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