FABI said a sad goodbye to Dr Katrin Fitza at an informal farewell function in the FABI courtyard on 18 January. Katrin leaves the Institute after 11 years to return to Germany to take up a post as Research Manager at the Julius Kuehn-Institut. Katrin had joined FABI in 2013 after completing her undergraduate and Honours degrees at UP and an MSc under the primary supervision of Prof. Sanushka Naidoo. Katrin then joined FABI as a research assistant but soon started on her PhD, “Diversity, specificity and admixture in the Sirex-Amylosterum-Deladenas symbiosis” which she completed in 2020.

FABI Director Prof. Bernard Slippers praised Katrin for her hard work and commitment to the Institute and described her as an expert on the Sirex-Deladenus-Amylostereum complex with research partners from Australia, Spain, Japan and the USA. He described her as hard working with a good publication record and her work was always of very high quality and done with care. Students thanked her for making FABI welcoming and this was a common thread in everyone’s messages: Katrin cared deeply for people and would always help them if she could.

Katrin has managed the FABI Internship in Phytosanitation and Biosecurity for the past two years. Prof. Martin Coetzee thanked her for her passion and dedication in running this very successful programme and described her as a mother figure for the interns, and said that she had a huge impact on these young people’s lives, many of whom came from rural areas and Katrin made them feel right at home.

A tearful Katrin thanked FABI for the amazing opportunity to be part of FABI and gain research experience but also for all the wonderful friendships she developed while at the Institute.  FABI wishes Katrin all the very best on the new chapter in her career!