UMN Alumni Have Big Impacts at Annual APS Meeting

Each year at the annual APS meeting, the department hosts an Alumni Social, providing an opportunity for current students, staff and faculty to (re)connect with our many alumni.  Because the annual APS meeting is virtual this year, the Alumni Social has been postponed to 2021.  But we want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the exciting research that our alumni shared at this year's online APS meeting.  This is certainly not a complete list of contributions by our alumni, but it will provide a sense of the diverse areas in which our alumni continue to impact the discipline of plant pathology.

As part of the meeting opening ceremony, alumna Mary Palm (M.S. 1979; Ph.D. 1983) presented an overview of the outreach and education activities of APS during the United Nation’s International Year of Plant Health (IYPH).  Mary leads a task force coordinating IYPH activities including an educational reception at the U.S. Botanic Garden for Congressional staffers; launch of the new podcast Plantopia; development of monthly infographics centered around plant health themes; educational content for K-12 educators and parents; and a robust social media presence. 

Mary recently retired from USDA APHIS.Alumnus Dimitre Mollov (Ph.D. 2012) was competitively selected to present at the annual meeting as part of the Schroth Faces of The Future Symposium. This year’s symposium invited experts in plant virology to share their perspectives on the subdiscipline, forecasting where the science is heading.  Dimitre is a scientist with USDA ARS in Beltsville, MD.Jose Pablo Dundore-Arias (Former postdoc in the Kinkel Lab) organized and moderated an Idea Cafe as part of Plant Health 2020 called From Silos to Networks: Empowering Integrative and Comparative Agricultural Microbiome Analyses Via Standardized Metadata.  Along with Linda Kinkel and current Kinkel lab members Michael Fulcher, Marian Bolton, Michael Millican, and Matthew Michalska-Smith, JP also co-organized a timely Idea Cafe titled Virtual Scientific Conferences: Making Them Work for You.  JP is now an Assistant Professor at California State University Monterey Bay.

Alumna Rubella Goswami (Ph.D. 2005) led a special Hot Topic session focused on revised USDA biotechnology regulations and the newly updated SECURE (Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible, Efficient) Rule to provides guidelines and policy for field study and farm release of transgenic plants.  Rubella is a scientist with USDA APHIS. Alumna Kira Bowen (M.S. 1983) represented the APS Council in a special session call Faces of APS.  This session was designed for newcomers to APS meetings and provided an overview of the society and all it has to offer. Kira is a professor at Auburn University.Research e-posters were presented by several alumni including Bullo Mamo (Ph.D. 2013; now at University of California, Davis); Claudia Castell-Miller (Ph.D. 2005; now a research scientist with Debby Samac on the St. Paul campus); Eric Branch (B.S. 2018; now a graduate student at Cornell University); Dan Schlatter (Ph.D. 2013; now a postdoc with the USDA-ARS at Pullman, WA); Andrew Sathoff (Ph.D. 2019; now an assistant professor at Dakota State University); Pablo Olivera Firpo (Ph.D. 2008; now an assistant research professor in the department); Hamed Abbas (Ph.D. 1988; now a scientists with USDA ARS in Stoneville, MS); and Nicholas LeBlanc (Ph.D. 2015; now with USDA-ARS in Beltsville, MD).  (And many other alums were listed as co-authors of research talks and e-posters.)