Mike Wingfield, Director of FABI, had the special pleasure of hosting Prof. Brian Steffenson, plant pathologist in Department of Plant Pathology, University of Minnesota, during the second week of November. Mike and Brian were graduate students together in Minnesota in the early 1980’s and Brian’s visit to FABI was a long-anticipated event. This emerged through Brian’s invitation as a key-note speaker at the Dupont Plant Breeding Symposium hosted by the University of Pretoria Genomics Research Institute.
During his visit, FABI staff and students had the opportunity meet Brian and to share some of their research interests, these including projects relating to various aspects of plant pathology and entomology. Brian and Mike enjoyed the opportunity to reminisce on grad student days in Stakeman Hall and to catch up on old acquaintances  -  it seemed as if some 30 years had just "flown by”. On the more formal side, they discussed opportunities to build linkages between FABI and the University of Minnesota Department of Plant Pathology and particularly the Stakeman-Borlaug Centre of Sustainable Plant Health. This is a issue that they hope to pursue in coming months. While visiting Pretoria, Mike could also share with Brian one of his favorite areas, the Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Human Kind. An opportunity to welcome back home to his ‘origins”, a visit shared with Alison Harrington, Watson Fellow, who is visiting FABI from the USA.