Thomas Adams 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
The James Hutton Institute, Dundee, UK
Molecular PCN Resistance Researcher
Area of expertise/study
I am interested in asking questions about plant pathogen populations and how they change over time. My work in both my PhD at NIAB EMR and post-doctoral research in the Saunders’ lab has also looked at understanding why and how pathogens infect the hosts they do, using sequencing and bioinformatic analyses, focusing on the strawberry pathogen Phytohthora fragariae during my PhD and wheat yellow rust (Puccinia striiformis f sp. tritici) in my post-doctoral work, leading to a NextStrain instance at https://nextstrain.org/community/saunderslab/PST and the Rust Expression Browser at http://www.rust-expression.com. I recently started a postdoctoral position at the James Hutton Institute working on developing markers for resistance genes against potato cyst nematode, a highly destructive pathogen that could devastate the Scottish potato industry.
About your early experiences in education
I studied for both my GCSEs and A-Levels at my local state comprehensive school in Coventry, Ernesford Grange Community School. I was fortunate to have several fantastic science teachers who encouraged me to study Natural Sciences at Cambridge for my undergraduate degree.
If you could solve one problem in plant pathology, what would it be?
I’d want to take advantage of recent advances in genome sequencing to get a deep understanding on the diversity of plant pathogens, so we can learn how to best avoid breaking of resistance in the field.
If you could solve one issue relating to inclusivity and diversity within the field of plant pathology what would it be?
Although we have good representation of women in junior research positions in biology in general, this is less true in computational biology. A 2017 analysis of the published literature suggested this was not the case for computational biology (Bonham and Stefan, 2017). I would like to see this imbalance redressed, especially as the field of bioinformatics grows.
If you weren’t a plant pathologist, what would you be?
I would likely want to be in a data analyst role, perhaps in the healthcare field.