FABI Director Prof. Bernard Slippers received the prestigious Christiaan Hendrik Persoon Medal, at an awards ceremony of the Southern African Society for Plant Pathologists (SASPP), which took place on the campus of the University of Pretoria on 3 August. This award is the highest honour that the SASPP can bestow on one of its members and must reflect the highest level of scientific achievement at an international level as well as service to the Society. The Persoon Medal (as it is commonly known) has been awarded only seven times in the 60-year history of the Society, reflecting the very high level of achievement that it represents. Previous recipients of the Persoon Medal include Prof. James E. Vanderplank (1979), Prof. WFO Marasas (1987), Prof. MJ Wingfield (1999), Prof. PW Crous (2005), Prof. ZA Pretorius (2009) and Prof. BD Wingfield (2015). Thus, there are now four recipients of the award that members are linked to FABI, with Prof. Brenda Wingfield the first female recipient.  In presenting the award, SASPP President Prof. Wijnand Swart outlined the huge contributions that Prof. Slippers has made to plant pathology globally, not only based on exceptional scientific accomplishment but also in the many roles that he has played and continues to play in science leadership.

Professor Slippers said that it was a highlight of his career and tremendous honor to receive the Persoon Medal from the SASPP. He added “the SASPP is the first scientific conference I ever attended, and it has been a key academic society in my academic career ever since. I am thankful to everyone in the society who have been instrumental in the opportunities that the society has created for me. It is a special occasion for me to be able to share this award with all four of my PhD supervisors, including Proff Mike and Brenda Wingfield, Pedro Crous and Teresa Coutinho. I look forward to continue to work with them, and the incredible other colleagues and students with whom I have the privilege to share a passion for biology and plant health in particular.”