Australasian Plant Pathology Society

Incoming Australasian Plant Pathology Society (APPS) Management Committee to join standing committee

President, Dr Robin MacDiarmid (previously President Elect) from The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Ltd (Plant & Food Research) and University of Auckland. Robin lives in Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands but travels frequently to Auckland and beyond in her role as supervisor to post-graduate students and researcher in multiple research programmes/projects. Robin is most passionate about viruses and leads the Viruses and Like Organisms team at Plant & Food Research. In the Bay of Islands region she assists Maori organisations in their horticulture and educational aspirations, especially in viticulture.

Vice-President, Dr Colleen Higgins from Auckland University of Technology. Colleen is part of a busy group working in the area of molecular microbiology with a vibrant group of postgraduate students. Colleen uses her molecular biology skills to contribute to a wide range of areas such as eDNA/microbiomes, bacterial genome analysis and eukaryotic transcriptome responses, but her first love is plant viruses. She is researching in the areas of virus evolution and taxonomy, virus diagnostics and host plant transcriptomic and metabolomic responses.
Māori and student representative, Hanareia Ehau-Taumaunu currently at Penn State University, Pennsylvania, USA. Hanareia is from Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Uepōhatu, Te Whānau-a-Āpanui, and Te Ātiawa iwi in Aotearoa. She is currently studying towards her PhD in plant pathology with a focus on the dynamics of bacterial competition within the plant environment, specifically looking at bacteriocins. As an indigenous scientist she also highly values integrating her cultural values, identity and language in her career and research aspirations.

Treasurer, Dr Carl Mesarich from Massey University in Palmerston North. Carl co-leads the Molecular Plant Pathology Laboratory, where he runs several research programmes that set out to understand how plants and filamentous microbes interact at the molecular level. Ultimately, it is hoped that the information gained from these programmes can be used to inform durable disease control strategies. Carl currently has two PhD students working on the apple scab fungus, one PhD student studying the kauri dieback pathogen, and one postdoctoral scientist working on the apple scab fungus, the tomato leaf mould fungus, and a beneficial grass symbiont.

Executive Secretary, Dr Luciano Rigano from Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI). Luciano is originally from Argentina, where he did his PhD work on bacterial plant pathogens (Xanthomonas). He joined MPI after postdoc positions at the University of Otago and Imperial College London. His current role focuses on the development of innovative diagnostic pipelines for biosecurity.

Executive Secretary, Dr Nari Williams has been a forest pathologist for much of her career, with a primary focus on researching the biology, ecology, impact and control of Phytophthora pathogens in forests and natural ecosystems. Nari has worked at Scion since 2012 but will join the Plant & Food Research pathology team in Havelock North in January 2020 with an ongoing remit for tree pathology, albeit of the fruiting kind. Nari completed her PhD investigating DNA based diagnostic methods for Phytophthora detection at The Centre for Phytophthora Science and Management based at Murdoch University in Western Australia. Since moving to New Zealand, her research has focussed on Phytophthora pathogens of importance to New Zealand’s natural and production plant systems including the red needle cast of radiata pine (Phytophthora pluvialis) and kauri dieback (Phytophthora agathidicida).

The incoming members are joined by:
Immediate Past President Dr Brett Summerell, Australian Institute of Botanical Science, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.

Regional Co-ordinator Dr Monica Kehoe, Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Biosecurity and Sustainability, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Perth.

Business Manager Dr Peter Williamson, Queensland.

Executive Editor Dr Philip O'Brien, Murdoch University, School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, Perth.

The APPS Executive Committee would like to thank the outgoing committee members for ensuring that the society was in sound financial shape and supported its members, especially through the new initiatives such as the Carer’s bursary and the 47 student and early career grants made to enable attendance of the culmination of the society’s 50th anniversary, the APPS conference in Melbourne.

Outgoing members include those who undertook the following roles 2017–2019:
Past President, Dr Kim Plummer, La Trobe University. Vice President, Professor Robert Park, University of Sydney. Executive Secretary, Professor Harbans Bariana, University of Sydney. Treasurer, Dr William Cuddy, NSW Department of Primary Industries.

The new Executive Committee is excited to get into APPS business to keep the society serving its members well and to support plant health in the Australasian region. We welcome suggestions of activities or initiatives for the next two years.

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