These conference reports are written by the beneficiaries of our travel fund
Click here to read more about the fund and apply yourself
The annual meeting of the American Phytopathological Society with the meeting of the Society Of Nematologists was held in San Diego in the Town and Country conference centre. Currently I am in the last year of my PhD, entitled “predicting foliar diseases on winter wheat”. The meeting of the American Phytopathological Society focuses on all aspects of plant pathology, including modelling and prediction of diseases. At this conference I was given the opportunity to present a poster about the economic and environmental validation procedure I developed for plant disease prediction models.
The conference was scheduled over five days, going from Saturday to Wednesday morning. Saturday was only for registration and the program actually started on Sunday morning with a plenary session. After the plenary session around eight parallel sessions were going every morning and afternoon. Two posters sessions were scheduled on Sunday and Monday, additionally around thirty people presenting posters were given the opportunity to give a 5 minutes oral presentation to introduce their posters. In total around 300 talks were given and around 700 posters were presented. Because of the large number of parallel sessions it was made easy for people to switch in between sessions, allowing me to visit talks on a large variety of subjects. In the evening there was time to sightsee the city of San Diego, which was a well picked location as it is a beautiful city.
The plenary session first addressed the issue of global warning and discussed the associated change in biodiversity and discussed challenges for plant pathology, followed by a session on the role of plant pathology in microbial food safety. After the plenary session the parallel sessions started. The most interesting session for me was titled “disease forecasting: what comes under the umbrella of model validation”. This session discussed the different ways in which model validation is important in disease forecasting and talks addressed various concepts of model validation.
One talk in this session was directly in line with a part of my PhD subject and discussed the economic validation of disease forecasting models and the importance of testing models under real-world scenarios to identify their economic effect. Another speaker in this session discussed likelihood ratios, which can be used for the statistical evaluation of models, and linked these ratios to information theory and economics. One discussed technique minimised “regret” in decision making based on disease prevalence, and can be used both to evaluate the model and also to analyse their likely adaptation. Another interesting session was on “information technologies for multiscale disease forecasting and surveillance system”. The main system discussed was the American PIPE system (Pest Information Platform). Speakers presented the latest developments on architecture, data collection, modelling, and data interpretation and discussed current and future applications of information technologies for disease forecasting.
I enjoyed the conference and learned a lot on various subjects within plant pathology, some directly related to my own work and others indirectly. The poster presentation for an expert audience was a learningfull experience in communicating my work. I was asked many interesting questions, and received many interesting comments. The social program of the conference allowed for plenty of networking especially during two student social events, one lunch and one dinner. I would like to thank the BSPP for the opportunity to visit the APS conference. I greatly enjoyed the conference and it definitely was a valuable experience.
Dennis te Beest, Rothamsted Research & Reading University.