First Plant Pathology Day for Honours Students
The Plant Pathology Discipline in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences held its first Plant Pathology Day allowing honours students the opportunity to present their research findings to their peers, lecturers and adjudicators.
A total of 15 students made presentations - this represents the highest honours intake the Discipline has ever recorded.
The presentations were evaluated by Dr Mike Morris of Plant Health Products and Dr Pat Caldwell. Morris presented a keynote address on his work that emphasised the predator/prey relationship in restoring balance through biocontrol of invasive species and plant diseases. His presentation provided the students with an important reflection on the role their work as plant pathologists plays.
Both Morris and Caldwell were impressed with the level of work presented by students, saying that the research undertaken was well done.
Closing the day, Dr Gus Gubba of the Discipline of Plant Pathology at UKZN said that he had found the standard of all the presentations extremely high. Gubba told the students they could hold their heads high for a job very well done.
The presentation topics ranged from the identification and characterisation of pathogens infecting different crops to the biological control of specific diseases. Students also fielded questions from their lecturers, peers and experts, giving them the opportunity to defend their research and gain experience in presenting academic research.
The day was the first of its kind for the Discipline and was largely due to the increasing numbers of honours students. All future honours presentations will follow a similar format.
In previous years, presentations were done under the auspices of the Microbiological Society of South Africa, however, the increasing student numbers have justified the Discipline holding its own meetings under the auspices of the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology (SASPP).
Three prizes for the best presentations were sponsored by Inqaba Biotec (first prize of R2 000), SASPP (second prize of R1 000) and Plant Health Products (third prize of R500).
First prize went to Mr Sizwe Ndlela, second prize to Ms Nontokozo Kunene, while third was shared by Ms Nompumelelo Gama and Mr Thembani Nxumalo. All the presenters expressed their gratitude to their supervisors, sponsors, mentors and friends for their support.
The key role played by Dr Kwasi Yobo who single-handedly put the event together was acknowledged and for that he received a rousing round of applause.