The BSPP wishes to encourage and reward undergraduate students interested in plant pathology. The BSPP are proud to announce the winners, nominated by UK universities (and other higher education institutions offering Level 6 courses) throughout the country.
Our congratulations go to:
The BSPP prize for best undergraduate research in plant pathology (2022)
For best dissertation, literature review or research project.
Lauren Eddie (University of Oxford)
The BSPP prize for examination performance in plant pathology (2022)
For best performance in a final year exam paper or module.
Robert Leete (University of Nottingham)
“The BSPP encourages and promotes the study of plant pathology at the undergraduate level. Research projects and Exam entries completed by this year’s winners focused on a wide range of topics, from plant pathology, molecular biology and virology to biological control of plant diseases. These all have real implications for food security, ecosystem services and society. In all cases, nominating academics highlighted the excellent quality of experimental work and presentation of results and conclusions. All in the Society can be reassured that the future of our discipline appears to be in the very safest of hands!” BSPP Education Secretary, Mojgan Rabiey.
Lauren Eddie (University of Oxford)
“Thank you so much to the BSPP for this prize and especially to my 4th year supervisor Renier van der Hoorn – I had an amazing time in his lab working on plant immune proteases. This year really encouraged me to pursue a career in plant science and I am super excited to start my PhD at the Crop Science Centre in Cambridge in the next few weeks, continuing in the field of plant-microbe interactions!”
Lauren Eddie graduated in summer 2022 with a First Class Honours degree in Biology at Oxford University.
Lauren’s supervisor, Renier van der Hoorn, nominated her for the prize in plant pathology research for an “outstanding proposal on the role of the RD21 protease in immunity and performed the proposed experiments during a 6-month project in her 4th year.”
Robert Leete (University of Nottingham)
“I have recently graduated with a First Class Degree in MSci Plant Science after 4 years. Plant pathology is vital in identifying, understanding and tackling plant diseases, to preserve their biodiversity, crop value and beauty. I was first drawn into pathology when identifying tree species and witnessing the disheartening chaos caused by fungal diseases like Ash Dieback, which hits close to home! The methods of fungal infection are the most interesting element for me, such as the formation of appressoria and penetration pegs – amazing! With all this, I am keen on pursuing a career in forestry to fight disease in UK woodlands!”
Robert graduated in summer 2022 with a First Class MSci degree in Plant Science at Nottingam University.
His supervisor, Matt Dickinson nominated him for the prize in best examination performance and commented: “Robert produced an excellent pathogen profile on Puccinia striiformis and gained first class qualifications in molecular plant pathology and plant disease control modules.”
Winners of University Nominated Prizes
Gabrielle David for Best Undergraduate Research in Plant Pathology at the University of Bristol (2022)
“As a farmer by family trade, the plant pathology unit in my first year piqued my interest, and after one lecture I was hooked. My love for the field has only grown from there. Working in the plant pathology lab at Bristol University has fostered this passion enormously, and I treasured the opportunity to work with such an inspiring group of researchers, and to help tackle cassava brown streak disease (even just a little!). I am now beginning my PhD in synthetic biology in the University of Manchester, after which I hope for a career focused on sustainable agriculture.”
Gabrielle won this award for her final year MSci Biology project: “A wild virus chase: Searching for novel viruses in Euphorbiaceae, a difficult host family with antiviral potential.”
Poppy Clark for Best Undergraduate Research in Plant Pathology at the Royal Agricultural University (2022)
“I’ve just completed my final year at the Royal Agricultural University receiving a first-class hons and the BSPP Plant Pathology Prize. My interest in plant pathology began in my Biology A-Level and grew through my time at Bayer working in the R&D Trials sector and conducting my research in ‘SDHI and DMI chemistry’s effectiveness at tackling brown rust’ for my dissertation project during my placement. Although my focus in plant pathology has largely been in cereals, I have begun
my career at Produce Solutions (Greenvale AP) as a Trainee Trials Agronomist. Here, I am keen to increase my knowledge of potato systems and hope to contribute to R&D in this sector. Over the next year, I also aim to start my BASIS qualification with a view to progress my knowledge in the industry.”
Poppy won this award for her final year project: “An investigation of the role of SDHI chemistry to a single DMI for controlling brown rust more effectively in winter wheat variety Crusoe,” during her BSc Honours degree in Agriculture.
William Gerrard for Best Undergraduate Research in Plant Pathology at Royal Holloway, University of London (2022)
“I am currently at the start of my masters, looking at the haustoria of powdery mildews to try and better understand the interaction between biotrophs and their hosts. My interest in plant pathology started in my second year with a module looking at the interactions of insects, plants, and fungi. From there, I’ve continued to expand my knowledge and have found all of it fascinating”
William won the prize for a final year molecular plant pathology project, during his Biology BSc Honours degree, exploring the question: “Can we protect barley from powdery mildew by seed treatments with antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (ASOs) to silence genes required for Blumeria graminis infection?”.
Louise Jones for Best Undergraduate Research and Examination Performance at Canterbury Christ Church University (2022)
“I am attracted to Plant pathology because it’s important to understand plant/microbe interactions and environmental conditions that cause plant diseases to develop effective control measures. My recent thesis investigated the potential host range of a recently sequenced Potyvirus. I have now begun an MRes investigating the extent and spread of Phytophthora ramorum in RHS gardens. This disease affects numerous shrubs and trees and is currently posing a major threat to Larch trees in the UK, causing thousands to be quarantined and culled. Following completion of my master’s degree, I intend to pursue a PhD continuing further research within this field.”
Louise undertook an ambitious molecular virology project during her BSc Honours degree in Plant Science, for which she won the prize. “Towards creating an infectious clone of nerine yellow stripe virus (NeYSV)” for which she received a first-class mark.
Jade Reynolds for Best Undergraduate Research in Plant Pathology at the University of Plymouth (2022)
“Understanding how each pathogen infects, spreads and attacks its host plant is crucial for creating effective disease control strategies to aid plant health. During my placement year, I worked in field trials, working with plant protection products, and saw the impact of plant diseases and pesticide resistance first-hand. This inspired me to work on the Rice Blast fungus, which is becoming increasingly more resistant to pesticides. I recently started my career within plant health, working in a company focussing on gene editing disease resistance in tropical crops!”
Jade won the award for a First Class final year research project during her BSc Honours Biological Sciences degree: “Fluorescence imaging provides evidence of parasexual recombination in Magnaporthe oryzae strains of the same mating type.”
Rosie Strong for Best Undergraduate Research in Plant Pathology at the University of Cambridge (2022)
“While much of my studies were focused on environmental science, my final-year research in plant pathology ties into my desire to better appreciate the value of biology, not just as a discipline but for its global influence. I found it fascinating to gain an understanding of how research at the depth of focus of this project, looking at variation in plant responses to nematode parasitism, could be so important in the future progression of protecting and enhancing crop yield, particularly in the face of such escalating climatic challenges.”
Rosie studied Biological Natural Sciences, specialising in Plant Sciences and Ecology in the final year, and won the prize for exploring: “Natural variation in susceptibility and resistance to plant-parasitic nematodes in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana using recently developed custom hardware to image infected roots.”
Joe Walker for Best Undergraduate Examination Performance at the University of Cambridge (2022)
Joe Walker won the University of Cambridge prize for best examination results in plant pathology. Joseph has just completed the second year of his course in Biological Natural Sciences, where he achieved very high results from the Plant & Microbial Sciences course, performing strongly across questions on disease control, modelling, genetic engineering strategies and data analysis. He will specialise in Genetics next year.
Damian Isanski for Best Undergraduate Research in Plant Pathology at the University of Nottingham (2022)
“Throughout my Biotechnology degree, I have had the opportunity to explore the importance of plant pathology and its critical role in preventing crop losses given a growing global population and the impacts of climate change. During this project – in which I developed a rapid in-field diagnostic assay for a fungal plant pathogen – I gained a greater appreciation for the potential of rapid early diagnosis-enabling techniques in opening up options for plant disease management and look to work on such technology in the future.”