FORUM: (From left) Lea Diffey (Queensland DSITI), Prof John Lovett (PBCRC), Jenny Cobon (APPS), and Tony Steeper (PBCRC).
FORUM: (From left) Lea Diffey (Queensland DSITI), Prof John Lovett (PBCRC), Jenny Cobon (APPS), and Tony Steeper (PBCRC). Faith Thiang

Brightest in field talk plants, pathogens and pests

FOLLOWING two and a half years of planning, the Science Protecting Plant Health (SPPH) conference came to fruition last month.

The event, a collaboration between the Plant Biosecurity CRC and the Australasian Plant Pathology Society (APPS) was, in the words of plenary speaker Professor Barbara Howlett: "A fantastic event, with an amazing variety of speakers and delegates, made richer by the marrying of plant biosecurity with plant pathology. From the speaker's podium it was wonderful to look out across the auditorium and see so many young people, which I believe bodes extremely well for the future of plant health science”.

Representing the CRC at the opening ceremony, professor John Lovett reflected on the increasingly difficult task confronting those on the frontline of plant biosecurity, compounded by the rapid movement of people and products across the globe, with the vagaries of a changing climate adding further complexity.

"The call to arms for the scientific community to work together to counter these threats is as great as ever,” he said.

The event was the first time the APPS conference was presented by a partnership, with the Plant Biosecurity CRC bringing a diversity of disciplines, people and purpose to the occasion.

Approximately 70 staff members, students and partners in PBCRC attended the event, 31 of whom either presented, chaired sessions or facilitated workshops.

The CRC booth provided a popular meeting place for participants, the media and friends to gather.

The CRC featured strongly in the student awards, taking out second and third place in the presentation category, (Francesco Martoni and Shakira Johnson respectively) while Emily Lancaster took out second prize in the poster sessions.

From a CRC perspective the collaboration with APPS provided greater exposure of its science and in particular provided an opportunity for its younger scientists and students to engage directly with the plant pathology community, including end-users in government and the private sector.

The Plant Biosecurity CRC also used the conference to announce the upcoming National Science Exchange: Biosecurity built on science, for agriculture and the environment, to be held in Melbourne from May 29-31 next year.

More details about SX18 will be available in the coming months.

The CRC executive and organising committee thanked all staff, students, partners and sponsors for their support and involvement in making the event happen.

Research co-ordinator, and unofficial 'artist in residence', Juanita Watters kept the Twittersphere amused with her depiction of talks in cartoon form!

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