After the IS-MPMI meeting in Glasgow, I headed south to Norwich to meet with colleagues at the Sainsbury Lab, where I did my postdoctoral research from 2010-2015. Former MSc student Lauren Grubb is currently working at the affiliated John Innes Centre as a PhD student with Myriam Charpentier - it was fantastic to see that she is doing so well and enjoying living abroad. Norwich is a well-preserved medieval city with lots of old-world charm.
Melissa and I recently attended the IS-MPMI congress in Glasgow, Scotland. This meeting is always a favourite because of the truly outstanding science, and the fact we get to visit with many friends and colleagues who live around the world. This year, I was fortunate to reconnect with former Monaghan Lab member Danalyn Holmes, who is now pursing a PhD at the University of Tuebingen with Thomas Lahaye, as well as former mentee Sarah Pottinger, who is now well into her PhD with Roger Innes in Indiana USA. The opening reception was held at the Glasgow Science Centre - a perfect spot for nearly 1500 scientists to convene. This intense meeting then spanned days of plenaries, with notable talks by Brian Staskawicz (Berkeley), Phillippe Raymond (University of Lausanne), Ken Shirasu (RIKEN), Maria Harrison (BTI), Nick Talbot (Sainsbury Lab), Katarina Markmann (Tuebingen), and many others. At the poster session, Melissa received great feedback and helpful critiques on her work "Phosphorylation-dependent sub-functionalization of the Ca2+-dependent protein kinase CPK28", coming home with plenty of new hypotheses to test. And, Jacqueline struck a few new exciting collaborative projects with researchers in the USA, Germany, and France. The MPMI organizers hosted a 'Celebration of Diversity' night at pub in downtown Glasgow, which was well attended and brought to the forefront some important issues faced by marginalized groups in our research community. Mid-week, Zipfel lab alumni met for a pizza dinner - it was great to catch up with the old team! Intense meetings like this one usually have a free afternoon; to discover a bit of Glasgow, I decompressed with a walk around 'west end' neighbourhood, visiting the University of Glasgow and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Natural History Museum. To end off a great week of exciting science, we enjoyed a Ceilidh dance party at Merchant Square. Thank-you for a great meeting. See you in Jeju Korea in 2021!
The Monaghan Lab was well-represented at this year's Plant Canada meeting, held at the University of Guelph. It was four days of excellent plant science! I chaired a session on Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions, where both Melissa and Irina gave seminars, and Carmen presented a poster. All three of them were recipients of Duff Travel Awards from the Canadian Society of Plant Biology to help offset their travel expenses - thank-you to CSPB for supporting these young scientists. The program was fantastic and featured plenary talks by Siobhan Brady (UC Davis), Niko Gelder (University of Lausanne), Diane Saunders (John Innes Centre), and our very own Bill Plaxton (Queen's University), among many others. It is always a pleasure to catch up with Siobhan - she was my TA in Genetics at the University of Toronto, circa 2002. I also met up with my first research mentor Robin Cameron (McMaster University) who taught me about Pseudomonas syringae and Arabidopsis thaliana when I was a second year undergrad. Other highlights included meeting and discussing with nearly 10 (!!) new Canadian faculty in plant science, and catching up with former Monaghan Lab member Sydney Pascetta, who is now a PhD Student at the University of Guelph. It was also great to work with Heather McFarlane (new faculty at University of Toronto) on a workshop on 'Academic Careers'.
I am so grateful to be a part of the community of plant scientists in Canada. We encourage and help each other work towards understanding as much as we can about the biology of plants while at the same time mentoring the next generation of scientists.
Thanks to the meeting organizers for bringing us together to discuss our latest research. See you next year in Saskatoon!
Congratulations to Queen's Hons BSc graduates and former Monaghan Lab members Suba, Alex, and Ruxandra. I am so proud of these talented young women, who each contributed to our research program. As a SWEP and Hons thesis student, Suba worked on our BIK1 point mutagenesis project and generated higher-order mutants in an E3 ligase family we study. She's off to grad school at McGill University, after a summer project at U of T working on Drosophila cell biology with my former supervisor Julie Brill. Also as a SWEP and Hons thesis student, Alex worked on the CPK28 phosphocode project, generating over 30 clones in binary vectors, and testing transgenic lines. She is now considering multiple offers from Canadian law schools, potentially focusing on patent law. Ruxandra followed up some of Alex's work as a SWEP and research mentorship student, sequencing several constructs and genotyping insertion lines for other projects. She will be starting medical school at Western University in the fall, after spending several weeks travelling in Europe. All of these women have bright futures ahead and I look forward to learning what they accomplish.
Thank-you for your hard work, best of luck, and keep in touch!
This week our group spent two days away from the lab at Queen's University Biological Station. We worked in the main lodge by a wood-burning stove for hours, going over the direction of everyone's projects and thinking about 'the bigger picture'. Prior to the retreat, everyone shared summaries of their results, paper/thesis outlines, and a list of readings. Although we have weekly lab meetings, this intensive and cozy retreat allowed our hive mind to thrive and everyone left eager to get back to their benches and test hypotheses.