Gabe Patin — 2017 Award of Distinction Recipient
The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis will honor Gabe Patin with an Award of Distinction at the College Celebration on October 6.
The awards are presented annually to individuals whose contributions and achievements enhance the college’s ability to provide cutting-edge research, top-notch education and innovative outreach. Patin is being recognized as a Friend of the College.
Patin, 87, considered a legend in the American seed industry, played a critical role in the founding of the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center (SBC). It is no exaggeration to say that without his early and strong support, the SBC would not exist. Gabe considers his involvement in the creation of the UC Davis SBC one of the greatest accomplishments of his life.
Gabe was an early supporter of the importance of developing an identity for the Californian seed industry and connecting it to UC Davis. After a distinguished career in the seed industry with Northrup King and other companies in the Midwest, he came to California to establish and lead Sakata Seed America, a branch of one of the oldest seed companies in the world based in Japan. He did this very successfully, and Sakata Seed America is now one of the leading seed companies serving the vegetable industry in California and employing numerous UC Davis alumni.
When discussions began at UC Davis in the late 1990’s to establish a research and extension center that would focus on seed quality and plant breeding, Gabe was an immediate and strong supporter. As a major figure in the California Seed Association and a member of the California Seed Advisory Board, Gabe was instrumental in convincing his colleagues in the seed industry to make this investment in their own future. The California Seed Advisory Board agreed to annual funding sufficient to enable the SBC to get underway. In addition, Gabe led a fund-raising campaign in the seed industry to build a facility to house the SBC. Gabe convinced his company headquarters to be the first contributor to the campaign that raised $1.4 million to contribute to a building on campus.
In April 2003, the SBC moved into the Plant Reproductive Biology building (see photo below), which also has provided space for another important UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences program, the Public Intellectual Property Resource for Agriculture (PIPRA). In addition, the initial SBC funding campaign also attracted a donation that enabled the establishment of the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation Plant Transformation Center in Robbins Hall. This facility has provided faculty in the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (and across the campus), as well as external clients, access to professional, efficient and affordable plant transformation services that have been critical in enabling dozens of research programs.
The SBC continued to grow, and Gabe served on its Advisory Council and supported additional connections between UC Davis and the seed industry. He was a strong supporter of the creation of Seed Central, a non-profit organization that fosters closer ties between UC Davis and the surrounding seed and food companies. Seed Central fosters networking and connections that bring discoveries and innovations at UC Davis to market faster. It also supports an array of student-oriented programs and manages a number of internships around the world offered by seed companies to UC Davis students. Gabe Patin was a visionary supporter of this concept and organization, and his advice and counsel were critical in its establishment and subsequent success.
Gabe Patin’s vision and championing of the SBC, Seed Central, and the Plant Transformation Center continue to provide value to agriculture and the seed industry. In addition, the research, education and public service enabled by these programs have greatly benefitted the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and contributed to its position as one the top institutions of its kind in the world.