FABI officially opened for the new year starting with an online Monday Morning Meeting on 11 January. It was a poignant start with a moment of silence in honour of long-time colleague and friend, Prof. Terry Aveling, who passed away in December due to COVID-19 related complications. She has been part of FABI from its early years, and a friend and mentor to many, and a respected researcher internationally in seed pathology. Her loss is deeply felt by the FABI community and a stark reminder of how serious this disease is.

Professor Bernard Slippers reflected on the past year and the challenges of continuing to work through a lengthy lockdown. “We have done well; our online engagements are working and working well and this is reflected in more than 186 FABIans participating in the online meeting today”, he said. We are excited about 2021 and the path ahead is clear: “We know what we need to do, and how to do it and who we are doing it with. One of the things that 2020 highlighted for us, is how valuable this community is in working towards its shared goals and supporting each other in the most difficult of times. We also recognise that we are in the midst of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but we know how to manage this through social distancing, sanitising, wearing masks and supporting each other, and FABI has done so successfully this past year”.

Professor Slippers made special mention of the FABIans who worked all through the Christmas and New Year period to keep facilities, plants and cultures going. FABI never sleeps!

The year is off to a busy start with FABI hosting the biennial Southern African Society for Plant Pathology meeting as an online event on 20 January to celebrate the IYPH2020. On the same day, FABI’s External Advisory Board will convene to reflect on the way ahead. The popular IUFRO WP 7.03.16 & 7.03.05 seminar series on behavioural and chemical ecology of bark and woodboring insects resumes on 21 January, as well as the FABI International Seminar Series on 28 January.