Katie Tomlinson: Thank you and goodbye!

17 Sep 2014

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Written by: Katie Tomlinson (BSPP Outreach Officer).

Over the past two years, I have had the pleasure of being the first ever BSPP Outreach Officer. It's been an exciting and rewarding position, which has taken me all over the UK to meet a fantastic range of people working in plant pathology.

I have really enjoyed working for the BSPP and am extremely proud of the events and resources developed. I've met so many enthusiastic teachers and volunteers who are keen to get the message across to young people that plant pathology is exciting and important. Similarly, I've found it encouraging that many of the young people that I've met at outreach events have found plant diseases interesting and can see that it is important to understand them.

We have run over 15 events during the two years, these include taking part in six science festivals, two summer schools, four school visits, five meetings/conferences, and one local woodland tour. These events and interactions have taught us a lot about what young people and members of the public find interesting about plant pathology and how best to make it accessible to a wide audience.

In addition, BSPP now has an active Twitter account and a new website, both of which help build a greater online presence for both the Society and plant pathology as a whole.

We have recently developed a new set of secondary/A-level resources, which help teach about the different ways of controlling plant diseases. It will be really interesting to see how teachers and scientists respond to the new set of resources. I hope these prove both useful and relevant for teachers and students. Once the new resources are online, we will be contacting our database of teachers who we've met at outreach events and who are interested in using our resources.

Excitingly, it looks as though there will be lots of opportunities to make plant pathology events and resources relevant to schools as the June 2014 curriculum includes the need to understand plant diseases, how they are spread, how plants defend themselves against them and how we can attempt to control plant disease.

I am going to embark upon a plant pathology PhD with Professor Gary Foster and Dr Andy Bailey at the University of Bristol. I will be working on cassava brown streak disease, which causes serious problems for sustainable cassava production in Africa.

I would like to thank the BSPP for all their generous support and encouragement in getting BSPP Outreach off the ground and wish the Society every success for the future!

The BSPP is currently drawing up plans for the new phase of outreach and will be announcing details of the new Outreach Officer post on the BSPP website shortly.