In April 2023 the board of the BSPP appointed members to represent key organisations, institutions or regions that engage in plant pathology research or related activities as BSPP Ambassadors.
Through this network of Ambassadors we would like to encourage engagement with the society and its activities.
BSPP Ambassadors in the UK
I work at Forest Research as a research assistant and study various Phytophthora species and their diversity in soil, water and the air using DNA metabarcoding. I have been looking at the spread and impact of these diseases in juniper and their diversity in nurseries and the wider environment. I was always torn between my love of science and art but decided to go on to study zoology at Leicester University. I’ve always been fascinated by pathogens, and gradually found my way to study those in plants. I am passionate about improving the retainment of women and minority groups in the higher levels of scientific research. We need role models to give the younger generations of researchers confidence that they can also lead exciting research. In my spare time I read and go on long hill walks.
I am a UKRI Discovery Fellow at the University of Leeds, researching plant-symbiont interactions. Specifically, I aim to promote beneficial (e.g. arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) over parasitic symbioses (e.g. plant parasitic nematodes) with plant hosts, which can boost crop yields and aid food security. My work investigates fundamental aspects of nematode parasitism of plants as well as utilising applied approaches (i.e. field trials) to assess the efficacy of crop production strategies.
I am an agriculture professional with a background in plant pathology research and over 7 years of experience in seed certification and crop protection. I have a BSc and MSc in Crop Protection (Plant Virology) and an MSc in Food Security and Development from the University of Reading. I am passionate about plant health and agricultural development through research and creative thinking in enhancing modern disease diagnostic approaches and development of agri-tech innovations that can be utilised by farmers in boosting food production, thereby ensuring sustainable food security. I work with Syngenta at the Jealott’s Hill International Research Centre and I am currently exploring weed control research.
I am a Research Consultant Agronomist at Vegetable Consultancy Services (UK) Ltd, or VCS for short, based in Norfolk. I completed my knowledge exchange partnership PhD student at University of Hertfordshire in partnership with ADAS. The project investigated the interspecific interactions between the causal pathogens of the two most economically damaging oilseed rape diseases – phoma stem canker and light leaf spot. I have a keen passion to conduct applied “INTER” research – inter-species, inter-crop, inter-disciplinary, inter-system, inter-institution and integrated pest management! I want to facilitate the translation of knowledge from research to the agricultural industry to enable the greatest impact to be achieved by sustainably reducing losses to meet future food productivity requirements. Newcastle University undergraduate alumni.
Sarah Thomas began her career as a plant pathologist after completing her MSc in Pest Management (Plant Disease) at Imperial College, Silwood Park in 1997. Since then she has been employed by CABI and is now a senior project scientist. Her main interest is in the development of fungal biological control agents for control of invasive weeds and diseases. She completed her PhD at Royal Holloway in 2014, where she explored the use of fungal endophytes as biological control agents for beech bark disease. She has been a member of BSPP since 2016. You can read more here: https://www.cabi.org/cabi-people/sarah-thomas/
I am currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Dundee, prior to this I have worked in research laboratories in the UK and Australia understanding plant-microbe interactions. My main research interest is in the molecular biology of plant microbe interactions. My research has primarily focussed on understanding the plant immune system through the study off effector proteins to investigate their host targets and how they manipulate the plant to cause disease. Recently, my interests are shifting into how the chloroplast mediates environmental stress and microbe associated signals to fine tune plant signals for growth and defence. Additionally, how does perception of light affect immunity and why are pathogens targeting both the chloroplast and light signalling pathways to cause disease?
Unnati is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Cambridge at the Department of Plant Sciences/ Crop Science Centre. She is broadly interested in plant-microbe interactions, genetics, and evolution. She is currently working on elucidating the network of immune receptors in sweet potato against plant parasitic nematodes. Read more at: unnatisonawala.com
Said El -Hassan
I am plant pathologist, currently a Research Fellow at the School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick. My background is in crop protection and plant pathology understanding plant-microbe interactions. My main research interest is in the crop protection and plant-microbe interactions. After PhD, Saïd took on a postdoctoral position at the University of Reading as a plant protection scientist and two further postdoctoral positions followed. At Warwick University, my research programme is primarily investigating the underlying mechanisms of pathogen biocontrol and plant growth-promotion by Trichoderma hamatum using metabolomics and transcriptomics pathways of induced natural compounds during plant-pathogen-beneficial interactions. This research is extremely important for the development of sustainable agriculture and horticulture protection and has potential to find new natural compounds/biologicals from the UK’s beneficial T. hamatum strain hepA for improved plant growth and disease biocontrol in the agricultural and environmental systems. These beneficial microbes and their natural compounds can act as an alternative to the application of synthetic fungicides and fertilizers.
BSPP Ambassadors Internationally
Bellancile Uzayisenga has Ph.D. degree in Plant Pathology from University of Nairobi, Kenya and M.Sc. degree in Plant Pathology and Entomology from Wageningen University, The Netherlands. She is Plant Pathologist Research Fellow under Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB). She has been providing coordination, management and expertise in implementation of several plant health projects as the Principal Investigator/ key expert including (i) Fit For Market – Strengthening sanitary and phytosanitary systems of the ACP horticultural sector; (ii) Technical support for Agricultural and Livestock commodities and their systems to comply with sanitary and phytosanitary measures and other export market third party certification requirements), (iii) Plantwise programme, (iv) Push pull technology for Sub-Saharan Africa, etc. She is the member of sanitary and phytosanitary committee at national and regional levels and a member of the Technical Working Group for pesticide registration and efficacy trials in East African Community. She is also the Plant Biosecurity Senior Fellow under Africa – Australia Plant Biosecurity Partnerships. She wrote different projects and in-service reports on pest & disease identification and management and published several scientific papers in different peer review journals.
I am currently working as Agricultural Extension Development Officer (AEDO) with the ministry of Agriculture, Malawi Government at Mlomba Extension Planning Area (EPA) under Lilongwe District Council.
Brian Gagosh Nayyar
I am currently working as an Associate Professor of Botany in the department of biological sciences, University of Sialkot (Pakistan). I hold a PhD in Plant Sciences with specialization in plant microbe interactions. My area of interests are molecular characterization of phytopathogens; biocontrol of phytopathogens; protein-protein interaction assays; RNAi mediated gene silencing; and infection assays to gain insights into regulation of autophagy, plant immunity and systemic acquired resistance.
David B. Collinge
David B. Collinge was educated in genetics at the Universities of Liverpool (BSc (hons) 1979) and Newcastle Upon Tyne (PhD, 1982). After a spell at the (then) John Innes Institute in Norwich (1985-87), he was appointed Associate Professor in Molecular Plant Pathology in 1988 and Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Copenhagen since 2002. David’s main research interests are (1) the mechanisms of defences operating in plants against pathogens (2) endophyte biology and biological control of disease. His research group has worked with several biological systems, mainly involving fungal pathogens since 1988. The bulk of the research effort has concerned cereals, namely barley, oats and wheat with the Powdery Mildew Fungus, Blumeria graminis and Fusarium spp. This effort has been rewarded with much new knowledge on the nature and role of different defence mechanisms plants and mechanisms of infection. This research effort has been published in over 100 refereed international publications to date. He is also active in the public debate drawing attention to the importance of plant diseases and our opportunities to combat them with biotechnologies such as genetic engineering and biological control. David served in the presidium of BSPP from 2018 to 2022 and is an editor of several journals including Plant Pathology.
David Read is a post-doctoral researcher within the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. He has a broad interest in plant health with a passion for plant virology and leads the Plant Virology Group at FABI and supervises students at various levels of post-graduate training. His research focuses primarily on the metaviromics of novel and emerging viruses using RNAseq. Crops of interest include wheat, maize and Mediterranean crops such as grapevine and olives. Additionally, emphasis is being placed on several crops that have previously been overlooked from a virological standpoint and include sunflower, hops and canola. His current research, funded primarily by Innovation Africa @UP and industry partners. FABI has a large and diverse cohort of researchers at various career stages with wide-ranging research interests. As a BSPP Ambassador, David’s functions include raising awareness of the benefits of being a member of scientific societies, particularly among students. He also aims to promote the BSPP and encourage new members to join, as well as to encourage ongoing participation of existing members. Awareness will as be drawn to the various opportunities for learning and assistance with conference attendance and workshop participation offered to BSPP members
I’m a Plant Pathologist and co-founder of Beyond3generations a social enterprise. I earned my PhD at the University of Nottingham-UK. I am a Science Team Leader and Senior Scientist at AgResearch-NZ. My dream is to see the relevance of Plant Pathologists better communicated across the globe through scientific outreach and engagements. Engaging with the public, especially with students to communicate my research as a Plant Doctor is one of the passions I have exuded over the years. I have been a member of the BSPP for more than five years. My career as Plant Pathologist has given me the opportunity to work in several countries including, England, Canada and New Zealand where I have applied my skills in pathogen: microbe-interactions, detection/diagnostics, epidemiology, bioassays, management/control and genetic diversity studies.
SCIENTIST (PLANT PATHOLOGY)
SPECIALIZATION: PLANT VIROLOGY, (Area of Research: Diagnostics and management of vegetable viruses/seed borne viruses/cucurbit viruses/Transgenics/ climate change impacts on viral diseases-Tospoviruses/Chilli viruses and management/IDM in cucurbit viruses)
DIVISION OF CROP PROTECTION
ICAR-INDIAN INSTITUTE OF HORTICULTURAL RESEARCH
HESARAGHATTA LAKE POST, BANGALORE, 560089
I’m Dr. Sebastian Samwald (he/him), but usually everyone just uses my nickname ‘Basti’. I am a postdoc in the Andersen lab group at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, Germany. I completed my PhD in 2022 at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, where I focussed on using molecular biology techniques to elucidate membrane protein interactions in the context of plant-pathogen interactions — with a particular focus on plasmodesmata dynamics in the presence of fungi. I especially enjoy high end confocal microscopy techniques, such as FRET-FLIM. And have followed up my interests by now undertaking a postdoc focussed on the creation of tools with sufficient resolution to probe for vital understanding in vivo and of individual cells during plant-microbe interactions in roots. Originally, I am from Austria; I love to bake; tend to my allotment in my spare time; and enjoy any and all outdoor adventures. I am part of the LGBTQ+ community and always have an open ear for anyone who needs somebody to talk to.
Tonjock Rosemary Kinge
Rosemary is the chair and an Associate Professor of Mycology and Phytopathology in the Department of Plant Sciences, Faculty of Science in the University of Bamenda, Cameroon. Her research interest is focused on fungi diversity, fungi pathology, biocontrol of plant diseases, climate change and multidisciplinary. Rosemary is passionate in mentoring girls and females in STEM, and she does that as a mentor in several organizations where she belongs such as the Cameroon Professional Women Oriented Network, Higher Women Consortium, and the Organization of Women in Science for the Developing World amongst others. She is a recipient of a TWAS-CAS postgraduate fellowship, a Fulbright scholar fellowship, and an Alexander von Humboldt experienced research fellowship among others. Rosemary is a member of several scientific organizations including the Cameroon Academy of Young Scientists where she is the technical and logistic secretary, an Affiliate of the African Academy of Sciences, an executive committee member of TWAS Young Affiliate Network and a fellow of the African Science Leadership Programme. She is a next Einstein ambassador fellow to Cameroon. Rosemary has initiated several collaborations with researchers from different parts of the world, tutored postgraduate students, and supervised masters and PhD students.
Any queries please contact Ambassadors@bspp.org.uk