After completing a MSc (Agricultural Sciences) at the University of Uruguay, Uruguay and PhD from the University of Heidelberg and Max-Planck-Institute of Cell Biology in Heidelberg, Germany, Professor Spangenberg undertook postdoctoral research at the Max-Planck-Institute of Cell Biology and the Institute of Plant Sciences at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zuerich, Switzerland.
Professor Spangenberg held positions as Assistant Professor and Associate Professor at the ETH Zuerich where he obtained his DSc in AgriBiotechnology, before joining Agriculture Victoria in Melbourne, Australia where he held positions as Director, Plant Biotechnology Centre; Research Director, Plant Genetics & Genomics, Executive Director of Biosciences Research for Agriculture Victoria, Chief Scientist of the Molecular Plant Breeding Cooperative Research Centre and Chief Scientist of the Dairy Futures Cooperative Research Centre.
Professor Spangenberg is former Head, Agriculture Victoria Research for Agriculture Victoria; Professor (Plant Genetics & Genomics) and former Head of the School of Applied Systems Biology with La Trobe University; and Director of AgriBio, Centre for AgriBioscience.
Professor Spangenberg is also Director and Chief Scientific Officer of the agricultural biotechnology company Phytogene Pty Ltd.
He was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 2007 and was the recipient of the Australian Thinker of Year 2006 Award. He is Past President of the International Association for Plant Biotechnology.
On Australia Day 2017, Professor Spangenberg was awarded the Public Service Medal for outstanding public service through scientific research programs in the agricultural sector in Victoria.