On October 13-14th 2016, I participated in the Society of Irish Plant Pathologists (SIPP) Autumn Scientific Meeting. This society was first created in 1968 as an unofficial way for a small group of plant pathologists to meet and discuss their research topics. Meetings are now organised twice a year, in autumn and spring, with the participation of academics, industry representatives and students.
This year’s autumn meeting was held at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Hillsborough, Northern Ireland. It was quite surprising to discover that the AFBI is a farm reached after driving through a forest. This conferred a relaxed atmosphere upon the conference, compared to the ones held in usual amphitheatres.
During the presentations, various topics were covered, such as mushroom virus, apple canker and the use of energy crop plantations for the sustainable management of waste waters. The main theme of the conference was Phytophthora species (fungus-like microorganisms causing severe crops diseases and environmental damages), from their detection in various environments on the island of Ireland to their control by fungicides. The student presentations dealt with Septoria, regarding host resistance or interactions between fungicidal compounds, and disease control by a biostimulant. It was a great opportunity to present my PhD project for the first time as the audience was composed of only about thirty persons mainly working in plant pathology.
Two recently retired plant pathologists from AFBI, Dr Louise Cooke and Prof. Alistair McCracken, were invited to give a talk about their career. They highlighted the fact that even after completing their PhDs, they had to learn on-the-job. Dr Cooke, for instance, had deep knowledge about some fungicides and some plant pathologies and was expected to know everything about all fungicides and diseases when she started a new job. She and Prof. McCracken both pointed out the importance of networking and being adaptable, in terms of skills and mobility, to be successful.
Networking at SIPP 2016 resulted in being advised to try participating in the International Congress of Plant Pathology (ICPP) 2018 that will be held in Boston.