Session chairs

The organisation of the 15th World Congress on Parasitic Plants is proud to present you the Session Chairs.

Claude dePamphilis

WCPP 2019 session chair and invited speaker Claude dePamphilis is a Professor of Biology at Penn State University.  He earned his undergraduate degree in Biology at Oberlin College and graduate degrees at the University of Georgia, where he studied population genetics, pollination biology, and evolution. After thinking about parasitic plants as fascinating oddities for many years, his "aha moment" with parasitic plants came in 1986 when he realized that parasitic plants were powerful "evolutionary mutants" for the study of plant genomes and gene function.  He secured a postdoctoral fellowship in 1988 to study the evolution of the plastid genome of the non-photosynthetic parasite Epifagus, in the lab of Jeff Palmer, and has continued to research parasitic plants with a passion ever since, including molecular analyses of every major group of parasitic plants. For the last 11 years, with the initiation of the Parasitic Plant Genome Project and other collaborations, his focus has largely been to generate and leverage comparative genomic data in the search for and experimental testing of 'genes that matter' in parasitic plant - host plant interactions.

Professor of Biology Penn State University

2019-03-18T15:09:38+01:00

Professor of Biology Penn State University

WCPP 2019 session chair and invited speaker Claude dePamphilis is a Professor of Biology at Penn State University.  He earned his undergraduate degree in Biology at Oberlin College and graduate degrees at the University of Georgia, where he studied population genetics, pollination biology, and evolution. After thinking about parasitic plants as fascinating oddities for many years, his "aha moment" with parasitic plants came in 1986 when he realized that parasitic plants were powerful "evolutionary mutants" for the study of plant genomes and gene function.  He secured a postdoctoral fellowship in 1988 to study the evolution of the plastid genome of the non-photosynthetic parasite Epifagus, in the lab of Jeff Palmer, and has continued to research parasitic plants with a passion ever since, including molecular analyses of every major group of parasitic plants. For the last 11 years, with the initiation of the Parasitic Plant Genome Project and other collaborations, his focus has largely been to generate and leverage comparative genomic data in the search for and experimental testing of 'genes that matter' in parasitic plant - host plant interactions.

Dave Nelson

WCPP 2019 session chair DAVE NELSON had his first experience with plant genetic research in Bonnie Bartel’s lab while he was an undergraduate at Rice University. He worked with Michael Sussman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning his PhD in Genetics in 2006. After postdoctoral research positions with Steven Smith at the University of Western Australia and Winslow Briggs at the Carnegie Institution for Science, Dave became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia in 2011. In 2016, Dave moved to the University of California, Riverside, where he is now an Associate Professor. His lab’s research is focused on the mechanisms and evolution of karrikin and strigolactone signaling.

Associate Professor
University of California, Riverside

2019-02-27T11:00:23+01:00

Associate Professor
University of California, Riverside

WCPP 2019 session chair DAVE NELSON had his first experience with plant genetic research in Bonnie Bartel’s lab while he was an undergraduate at Rice University. He worked with Michael Sussman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning his PhD in Genetics in 2006. After postdoctoral research positions with Steven Smith at the University of Western Australia and Winslow Briggs at the Carnegie Institution for Science, Dave became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia in 2011. In 2016, Dave moved to the University of California, Riverside, where he is now an Associate Professor. His lab’s research is focused on the mechanisms and evolution of karrikin and strigolactone signaling.

John Yoder

WCPP 2019 session chair John Yoder is professor of Plant Biology at UC Davis. He investigates molecular genetic mechanisms governing plant-plant interactions. He is specifically interested in understanding how molecules released by the roots of some plants effect the growth and development of nearby plants and intends to translate these findings into developing crops that are “self-weeding”. Probably the most robust model for investigating chemical signaling between plants are parasitic plants in the Orobanchaceae because these root parasites use molecules released into the rhizosphere by host roots as chemical cues to initiate the development of invasive haustoria. Haustorium development can be monitored in vitro by adding host-derived chemicals to aseptically grown parasite seedlings and visualizing haustorium development under a dissecting microscope within hours of treatment. His lab uses a combination of genomics, biochemistry, and plant biology approaches to identify bioactive molecules in host root exudates, learn how their release into the rhizosphere is regulated, and understand how the parasite recognizes and responds to molecular signals from other plants.

professor of Plant Biology at UC Davis

2019-03-20T21:32:54+01:00

professor of Plant Biology at UC Davis

WCPP 2019 session chair John Yoder is professor of Plant Biology at UC Davis. He investigates molecular genetic mechanisms governing plant-plant interactions. He is specifically interested in understanding how molecules released by the roots of some plants effect the growth and development of nearby plants and intends to translate these findings into developing crops that are “self-weeding”. Probably the most robust model for investigating chemical signaling between plants are parasitic plants in the Orobanchaceae because these root parasites use molecules released into the rhizosphere by host roots as chemical cues to initiate the development of invasive haustoria. Haustorium development can be monitored in vitro by adding host-derived chemicals to aseptically grown parasite seedlings and visualizing haustorium development under a dissecting microscope within hours of treatment. His lab uses a combination of genomics, biochemistry, and plant biology approaches to identify bioactive molecules in host root exudates, learn how their release into the rhizosphere is regulated, and understand how the parasite recognizes and responds to molecular signals from other plants.

Jim Westwood

WCPP 2019 session chair Jim Westwood has been studying parasitic plants for 25 years. He has worked primarily with Orobanche, Phelipanche and Cuscuta, and is interested in host-parasite interactions, especially with respect to exchange of macromolecules, host defense responses, and parasite genomics. He is among the founding members of IPPS and is a past president of the society.  Jim has a B.A. from Concordia College (Moorhead, MN), M.S. from the University of Minnesota and Ph.D. from Purdue University. He is currently a Professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech.

Professor

School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech

2019-03-20T22:05:39+01:00

Professor

School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech

WCPP 2019 session chair Jim Westwood has been studying parasitic plants for 25 years. He has worked primarily with Orobanche, Phelipanche and Cuscuta, and is interested in host-parasite interactions, especially with respect to exchange of macromolecules, host defense responses, and parasite genomics. He is among the founding members of IPPS and is a past president of the society.  Jim has a B.A. from Concordia College (Moorhead, MN), M.S. from the University of Minnesota and Ph.D. from Purdue University. He is currently a Professor in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech.

Maurizio Vurro

WCPP 2019 session chair Maurizio Vurro is a plant pathologist specialized in: production and biological characterization of bioactive metabolites by phytopathogenic fungi; use of microbes, microbial products and natural metabolites as agrochemicals; parasitic weed management; weed biological control. He is employed as Director of Research at the Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA), National Research Council, Bari, Italy. He was the coordinator of several projects, and acted as scientific and local organizer of several international events, e.g., among others: a Rockefeller/OECD-CRP Conference, a NATO Advanced School and a NATO Workshop; a OECD conference on parasitic weed management; the 11' World Congress on Parasitic Plants; the 13' European Weed Research Society Symposium. He was involved in several European COST actions. He is coordinator of the WG Parasitic Weeds within the EWRS.

Director of Research Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA), National Research Council, Bari

2019-03-20T21:31:17+01:00

Director of Research Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA), National Research Council, Bari

WCPP 2019 session chair Maurizio Vurro is a plant pathologist specialized in: production and biological characterization of bioactive metabolites by phytopathogenic fungi; use of microbes, microbial products and natural metabolites as agrochemicals; parasitic weed management; weed biological control. He is employed as Director of Research at the Institute of Sciences of Food Production (ISPA), National Research Council, Bari, Italy. He was the coordinator of several projects, and acted as scientific and local organizer of several international events, e.g., among others: a Rockefeller/OECD-CRP Conference, a NATO Advanced School and a NATO Workshop; a OECD conference on parasitic weed management; the 11' World Congress on Parasitic Plants; the 13' European Weed Research Society Symposium. He was involved in several European COST actions. He is coordinator of the WG Parasitic Weeds within the EWRS.

Steven Runo

WCPP 2019 session chair Steven Runo obtained his Molecular Biology PhD degree in 2007 at Kenyatta University as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in the groups of Prof. Neelima Sinha (University of California, Davis, USA) and Prof Jesse Machuka (Kenyatta University, Kenya). His PhD research focused on Long Distance RNA trafficking between the parasitic plant Cuscuta and hosts tomato, tobacco and medicago. In 2008, he started working as Lecturer at Kenyatta University in the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology. In 2009, he worked as a visiting Scientist at the University, Sheffield in the laboratory of Julie Scholes where he researched on interaction of maize and Striga. In 2010 he returned to Kenya and his position became Senior Lecturer in 2012. This was followed by another visiting scientist position at the University of Virginia in 2014 in the laboratory of Prof Michael Timko where he did research on Striga genomics. Upon his return to Kenyatta University, he started his research group focusing on natural resistance of Striga hosts using molecular biology and genomic tools. He continues to hold the position of Senior Lecturer at Kenyatta University and where he is also the current head of the Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology Department.

Group leader

Kenyatta University

2019-03-20T22:00:40+01:00

Group leader

Kenyatta University

WCPP 2019 session chair Steven Runo obtained his Molecular Biology PhD degree in 2007 at Kenyatta University as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow in the groups of Prof. Neelima Sinha (University of California, Davis, USA) and Prof Jesse Machuka (Kenyatta University, Kenya). His PhD research focused on Long Distance RNA trafficking between the parasitic plant Cuscuta and hosts tomato, tobacco and medicago. In 2008, he started working as Lecturer at Kenyatta University in the Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology. In 2009, he worked as a visiting Scientist at the University, Sheffield in the laboratory of Julie Scholes where he researched on interaction of maize and Striga. In 2010 he returned to Kenya and his position became Senior Lecturer in 2012. This was followed by another visiting scientist position at the University of Virginia in 2014 in the laboratory of Prof Michael Timko where he did research on Striga genomics. Upon his return to Kenyatta University, he started his research group focusing on natural resistance of Striga hosts using molecular biology and genomic tools. He continues to hold the position of Senior Lecturer at Kenyatta University and where he is also the current head of the Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology Department.