Chang Te-Tzu, who was born in 1927 in Shanghai, graduated from the University of Nanking with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1949. After graduation, Chang worked for the Council of Agriculture in Guangzhou until 1950 when he moved to Taiwan and served as a technician in the Ministry of Agriculture. In 1952, Chang went to Cornell University to study plant genetics and received a master of science degree in 1954. Then Chang continued his studies at the University of Minnesota where he received a doctoral degree in plant genetics in 1959.
Chang went back to Taiwan after graduation and in 1961, he moved to the Philippines and served as the head of the International Rice Germplasm Center at the International Rice Research Institute in Laguna until his retirement in 1991. The center was later renamed the T. T. Chang Genetic Resources Center in honor of him. He returned to Taiwan after retirement, and continued to make contributions on rice breeding and germplasm at the National Crop Germplasm Center.
Chang was appointed to the Pontifical Academy Sciences in 1997 and was a member of several other academies, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Third World Academy of Sciences. He received many prizes and awards during his distinguished career, including the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement and the Frank Meyer Award and Medal on Plant Germplasm.
As one of the principal plant geneticists in the world, Chang made major contributions to the alleviation of hunger through the development of improved varieties of rice. His research on evolution and variation in rice led to advances in the productivity of a number of strains and their resistance to disease.