BSPP Plant Pandemic Study Awards
The History of Plant Disease Epidemics
Our ability to manage and limit outbreaks of major diseases is limited not only by scientific knowledge but by an awareness of the effectiveness of measures taken to combat spread and impact of previous outbreaks. The coronavirus pandemic is the latest example to highlight the value of lessons learnt from previous outbreaks of other respiratory viruses.
Historical oversight and insights are equally important for managing major outbreaks of plant diseases. The society wishes to encourage members to undertake short reviews and has created a new fund to support studies of the origins, emergence, spread, responses and general impact of major plant diseases (see below). We will make five awards, each of £2000. You have to have been a member of the society for at least two years to apply and already have a PhD or Masters degree.
The awards will mainly cover your time but also any minor costs and production of a poster. Where members do not have a direct access to publications online or through libraries, we suggest liaising with colleagues who are able to assist.
Applications will be judged on an short outline of the proposed study and evidence that you can undertake an independent investigation. Examples of writing about scientific matters for general audiences will be taken into consideration.
The study must balance accounts of scientific research and progress in understanding the pathogen with the broader social, economic and political impacts of the disease. You are encouraged to report speculative findings and discuss differences in opinions and disputes that may have arisen, for example on the origins of the epidemic, management strategies or other aspects of the outbreak that had repercussions beyond the world of scientific research. You should also consider whether the eventual spread and impact matched original predictions and why final outcomes may have differed.
Your report should tell an engaging story that is accessible to a wide audience and contain figures, maps and photos that complement the text. We suggest between 15,000 and 20,000 words. There is no fixed report structure. Clearly indicate sources of information but avoid over-citation. The 1997 report ‘Mastering Mosaic; the Fight for Cassava Production in Uganda’ is a good example of a popular account of a disease outbreak.
Select one of the following for your application. Prior knowledge of a disease is not essential and we encourage applicants to choose diseases that are not in the current headlines. If successful applicants have prepared a study outline for the same disease, the BSPP will decide who will write about it. Applicants should therefore provide two alternative disease choices.
- UG99 (stem rust, wheat)
- Maize lethal necrosis (Americas, Africa)
- Box blight (North America, Europe)
- Coffee wilt (East Africa)
- TR4 Fusarium wilt of bananas (Asia, Australia, Africa, S America)
- Pine wilt nematode (Asia, North America, Europe)
- Potato cyst nematode (global)
- Cassava brown streak (East Africa)
- Greening disease of citrus (global)
- Pine pitch canker (S Africa and Europe)
- Wheat blast (Asia)
- Soybean rust (Americas)
- Ash dieback (Asia to Europe)
- Frosty pod disease of cacao (Latin America)
- Banana bacterial wilt (Africa)
- Zebra chip disease of potato (global)
- Myrtle rust (South America and beyond)
The final report and poster will be made available as a download on the BSPP website. Further guidance will be given on formatting the report once the final version of the text and photos has been approved. The poster should be A1 size and portrait orientation and will be shown at the next available BSPP conference.