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The 2011 Field Crops Rust Symposium including Kansas State University and Texas A&M University visit

Jordan Bailey's travels took her to Kansas and Texas, to visit Kansas State University and Texas A&M and to attend the Field Crops Rust Symposium, hosted by the American Phytopathological Society, in San Antonio, Texas.

The visit to Kansas State included back to back meetings with everyone Professor Bowden thought Jordan might like to meet, and many who had expressed an interest in meeting her. Jordan had the chance to visit Jim Stack, previous director of their biosecurity research institute, who now heads up their diagnostic network program. One of his PhD students, Christian Cruz, was nice enough to show Jordan his work at the BRI on wheat blast resistance breeding - a disease which is not yet in North America but is currently devastating South America. At Christian’s lab at the BRI nothing can be taken in (not even your own underwear!). Jordan commented that you have to shower outside, which includes washing your hair, not much fun when it is -4oC outside; Jordan admired Christian for taking on the research.

At Texas A&M Jordan toured their quality control testing facilities, where grain samples are sent and graded on various characteristics. Their largest contract was in fact for corn, as the tortilla industry is so large. She also toured their Borlaug centre, agri-genomics facility and plant pathology laboratory where she met a number of very interesting and helpful staff and students.

The inoculating procedures and glasshouse setup at K-State and also Texas A&M mirror those at PBI, but Jordan noted a few differences that may influence Australia's setup. The most interesting practice at K-State that they have just started implementing, due to a new post doc there called Jamie Poland, is using QR codes. These codes are used by smart and are mainly seen in advertising. The barcodes are included with a plants I.D. tag and when scanned will tell you all the information associated with that particular line. If applied to the rust collection at PBI this would greatly aid the research done by the rust group potentially eliminating human error in record taking and easing communication between researchers and technicians.

The FCRS was Jordan's highlight of the trip. She was lucky enough to attend a seminar at K-State by Jack A. Bobo, a Senior Advisor at the Department of State. His seminar was on networking, it was perfect timing and Jordan thought his talk was fantastic. Jordan's favourite comment of his, which she thought was worth sharing, is that people always say that they feel guilty when asking someone for a favour. He asked, “Would you feel inconvenienced if asked to do a favour for someone?” Of course, all being generous members of the scientific community, we reply “No”. “Exactly”, he said, in fact, it makes you feel good doing something for someone else, even a complete stranger, so by not asking that someone to help you, you are depriving them of feeling good.

Jordan's poster was well liked and she looks forward to displaying it at the upcoming CRC science exchange in May 2012. The talks were all very interesting and gave Jordan a history of rust diseases in North America, as well as insight into rusts of hosts other than wheat. Of particular interest was an introductory seminar on an overview of the rust diseases from a phylogenetic perspective. Phylogenetics is a field that Jordan has always enjoyed and hopes to work in one day. After talking with Catherine Aime, the presenter, it seems that they are always looking for students interested in the field and later Jordan discovered that her lab at Louisiana State University is where Alistair McTaggart, a former CRC student, has just completed a post doc. It seems he has given CRC students a good name and Jordan looks forward to doing the same in the not too distant future. 

Texas A&M campus

Christian Cruz and Scott Rusk (BRI director) at the BRI training facility

K-State campus