My Plant Path: Nevin Young

Nevin Young

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A: I’ve been a professor at Minnesota in Plant Pathology since 1989, focusing on the use of genome sequencing approaches to explore the genetic architecture of disease resistance
and symbiosis.

Q: How did you get involved with plant pathology as a discipline?
A: My graduate work was focused on traditional plant physiology. Then, for my post-doc at Cornell in the 1980s, I transitioned to study plant virology and the mapping of viral resistance genes. My advisor’s lab, Milt Zaitlin, was in Plant Pathology at Cornell and that experience began to connect me with the community and discipline.

Q: Was there a specific moment in your life that made you decide to pursue a career in Plant Pathology?
A: No specific moment. My post-doc experience and connections led to a career in Plant Path at Minnesota.

Q: What has been the most rewarding moment of your career so far?
A: There have been many rewarding moments. An early publication that was the subject of a news article in Nature;
the realization we could use data-mining and genome sequence data to discover all the “resistance” genes in Arabidopsis; leading 125 co-authors on the publishing of the Medicago genome sequence. But the most rewarding has been the notably successful careers of my graduate students and post-docs.

Q: What do you enjoy most about our department?
A: Plant Pathology has always had the best coffee culture on the St. Paul Campus.

Q: Can you describe how being part of this department has helped your mission as a scientist?
A: Being in Plant Pathology has always nudged me to look up from genomic sequence data and ask how and why our results matter to people.

Q: Can you tell us about your exciting research/scientific plans for next 2020?
A: Begin using sequencing technology to study microbial communities to learn more about how they compete with one another and establish a successful interaction with their host.