Rabia Ilyas is one of our ’40 Faces of Plant Pathology’
BSPP members can be found in 51 different countries, with 30% of members based in countries outside of the UK. As part of the BSPPs 40th anniversary, we asked our membership to describe some things about themselves, what plant pathology challenges they would most like to see solved, and what could improve the world of plant pathology in terms of inclusivity. Click here to return to the 40 Faces Home Page.
Institution and country of residence
Julius Kühn Institute, Germany
Area of expertise/study
Plant health has always been my field of study but it is such a broad term. I have expertise in plant viruses, their diagnosis, and their interaction with host plants. I am interested in understanding the basics of plant host interactions so that we can better develop sustainable strategies to protect crop plants.
About your early experiences in education
I studied agricultural sciences for my 4 year Bachelor’s degree and selected plant pathology as the major subject. Later, I got selected for a dual master’s degree in plant health for sustainable cropping systems funded by Erasmus Mundus. Within this program, for 1 year I studied at Universitat Politecnica de Valencia (Spain) and 2nd year at the University of Göttingen. Currently, I am working as a doctoral researcher at Julius Kühn Institute in Germany.
If you could solve one problem in plant pathology, what would it be?
There are so many issues that need our immediate attention in plant pathology, but if I could solve one problem, it would be the solution against the threat of tobamoviruses. Viruses like Tomato brown Rugose Fruit Virus, Tobacco Mosaic Virus, Tomato Mosaic Virus, Cucumber Green Mottle Mosaic Virus, etc pose a threat to our current vegetable crops. In the future, this threat might increase due to climate change and intensive agricultural practices.
If you could solve one issue relating to inclusivity and diversity within the field of plant pathology what would it be?
There are several ways to be more inclusive and the best way is by changing our systems to detect and punish misogynistic and intolerant people in higher positions. We can never have a diverse and inclusive work environment, as long as we silently protect the opposite side.
If you weren’t a plant pathologist, what would you be?
If I weren’t a plant pathologist, I would still end up studying some other field of biology and taking care of plants as a side hustle because I inherited this interest from my parents.