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Mar 19
InterConnections: Get to Know Freddie King

Border Control: Manipulation of the Host–Pathogen Interface by Perihaustorial Oomycete Effectors

Name: Freddie King

Current Position: Ph.D. Student in the Bozkurt Lab at Imperial College London

Education: M.Res. degree in synthetic and systems biology from Imperial College London; M.Biol. degree in biological sciences from Balliol College, University of Oxford

Non-scientific Interests: Climbing, running, and reading

Brief Bio: My first experience of molecular plant pathology was at Rothamsted Research Station, where I undertook a summer internship in Professor Kim Hammond-Kosack's group. At Rothamsted, I worked on developing genetic resistance against Fusarium head blight, a fungal disease that still poses a significant threat to global cereal production.

At the University of Oxford, I joined Professor Renier van der Hoorn's group for my master's project to improve plant molecular farming. Plant molecular farming uses plants as biofactories to produce valuable pharmaceutical proteins, such as antibodies and enzymes. I investigated using pathogen effectors to suppress the plant immune system and boost plant molecular farming yields.

My current Ph.D. project in Dr. Tolga Bozkurt's lab at Imperial College London combines my interests in synthetic biology and molecular plant pathology. I am working toward engineering plant immune receptors, using synthetic biology approaches and structural modeling, to recognize new pathogen effectors.

In our review published in MPMI, we discuss effectors from oomycete plant pathogens that accumulate near the haustorium, a specialized digit-like pathogen feeding structure.

By summarizing the current literature on perihaustorial effectors, we found that many perihaustorial effectors convergently target host endomembrane trafficking to suppress the plant immune response at this crucial interface.

Mar 19
Attend the Free Dealing with and Thriving as a Scientist with Disabilities Webinar


Join IS-MPMIConnect on April 14 for a conversation with scientists who are successful academics with disabilities at various stages in their careers. We aim to discuss how our institutions can make science more accessible for all and raise awareness to promote inclusivity within our communities. Register today!​

Nov 11
IS-MPMIConnect Events and Discussion Groups
Join IS-MPMIConnect, an interactive online community with discussion groups and virtual events for both your professional and personal life.

Learn about IS-MPMIConnect​
IS-MPMIConnect is an opt-in, online forum. You can participate in discussion groups that align to your interests, including Work/Life Balance, Early Career Professionals, Parenting and Caregiving in STEM, and Inclusion & Diversity. As our community grows, we will expand our offerings to include other discussion groups and event topics, such as teaching, research, mentorship, job searches, or isolation in the remote world.

Attend an Upcoming E​vent!

IS-MPMIConnect is dedicated to providing resources that help you in your professional and personal endeavors. Events are always free and open to all. Bookmark the Events page to register for webinars and live discussions to support you through the pandemic and beyond. Recent topics include Early Career Research, Caregiving During a Global Pandemic, and Embracing Diversity

We can't wait to see you online!​
Sep 10
Has COVID Got You Down? It's Time to reConnect!


Submitted by Allyson MacLean, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Canada

Al​lyson MacLean enjoying some family time with her daughters.

It was shortly after 2 p.m., and I kept checking the time, concerned about losing track of the day. My job that afternoon was to host my department’s first ever virtual seminar in less than an hour, and I was nervous about how things were going to proceed. Would the Internet connection from my guest’s home be strong enough? Would the technology perform flawlessly? And what exactly was the best way to moderate questions from an unseen audience? At this early stage of the pandemic, the virtual seminar series that would soon flourish had yet to be conceived, and rules governing virtual etiquette were still being established. I kept feeling an urge to log online and make sure everything was in order. And yet, instead I was reading Peppa Pig to my 2-year-old, snuggling with her in my bed as she was settling down for a nap.

I will always remember 2020 as the year in which my roles as a mother to two young children and an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa abruptly merged into one chaotic mess. To reconcile the needs of caring for a 2- and a 4-year-old suddenly at home, with the demands of a full-time teaching and research position, meant very early mornings, careful coordination with my husband’s work schedule, and incredibly long days. A colleague of mine, Marina Cvetkovska, expressed it best, “My days feel like an endless boring Saturday with a hint of panic.”

My story was far from unique: most parents were facing these same struggles. With a new era of Zoom meetings featuring young children climbing onto the laps of colleagues and collaborators rapidly emerging. I found myself asking the question “How can we all pull together to help one another?” Over the course of a few late-night Zoom meetings between myself, Mary Beth Mudgett (IS-MPMI president), Jeanne Harris (editor-in-chief, MPMI), and Dennis Halterman (editor-in-chief, IS-MPMI Interactions), the idea of creating an online forum to promote community and connection during a period defined by self-isolation and social distancing began to take shape.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought unprecedented disruptions to both our personal and professional lives, changing the ways in which we work, network, and even communicate with one another, possibly forever. COVID-19 has also laid bare some of the societal inequities in countries across the globe, and within the structures of our own scientific community, disproportionately affecting early career researchers, for example, as well as women and parents, all of whom are inherently more vulnerable to disruptions in their career and home lives. Yet, the pandemic has also seen scientists and researchers from all disciplines pull together to collaborate on a scale never seen before—with online conferences about vaccine development including virologists, immunologists, oncologists, veterinarians, and at least one plant biologist. I continue to find hope in this.

Now is a time to connect with one another, to strengthen our collaboration, to improve dialogue, and to develop a stronger network that will see us emerge from this catastrophe as a community more united than ever. IS-MPMIConnect is a new, virtual platform that will help us do just that: promote interactions between members, offering support and community to help us overcome the challenges this pandemic has imposed upon us as researchers, teachers, and caregivers—all human beings with multifaceted, complex lives that have been unexpectedly altered this past year. IS-MPMIConnect was originally conceived as a means of fostering a network that would connect those in need of research and teaching support with those able to provide such help, yet this initiative quickly developed into so much more.

We offer IS-MPMIConnect as a venue for our members to facilitate networking, collaboration, discussion, mentorship, and inclusion, with a goal of strengthening our community in bad times and good. We are presently developing a website to host this forum, and we welcome members of our society who wish to participate in this to contact us at We are also soliciting feedback in the form of a survey designed to gauge interest in a range of topics and activities we think will be meaningful to our members—please, take a moment to offer your feedback.

In closing, 2020 has ushered in a new “normal” for everyone, and at all stages of our careers; IS-MPMIConnect will help us to shape the direction this new path takes within our society.


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