Invited Speakers

Among invited speakers confirmed to give plenary addresses at the meeting are renowned experts including:


David Baltrus


Carmen Beuzon




Darrell Desveaux
Is a Professor in the Department of Cell and Systems Biology at the University of Toronto. His lab studies Pseudomonas syringae type III effector proteins, using them as molecular probes to study plant immunity. Additional information about research in the Desveaux group can be found at




Tory Hendry
She is broadly interested in understanding how host interactions shape the evolution and ecology of bacteria. She began using interactions between Pseudomonas syringae and insects and plants as a system to address this question during her postdoctoral work at the University of Arizona and University of California, Berkeley. Tory has continued to develop this research system since becoming an Assistant Professor at Cornell University. They use experiments and -omics approaches to understand how growth on plants and growth and pathogenesis in aphids influences evolution and diversity of P. syringae



Kevin Hockett 
Dr. Kevin Hockett earned his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. He carried out his postdoctoral research at the University of Arizona, where he was partially supported by a USDA NIFA AFRI postdoctoral fellowship. As a postdoc, Kevin began experimentally and computationally assessing the diversity and activity of narrow-spectrum protein toxins (bacteriocins) in Pseudomonas syringae.  Expanding on his postdoctoral research, Kevin started his own lab in early 2017 at The Pennsylvania State University, where his research focuses on the evolution, ecology, and genetics underlying bacteriocin production and sensitivity in Pseudomonas syringae and related species. Using a combination of molecular genetics, genomics, as well as moving into community sequencing (amplicon and metagenomics), his work aims to elucidate I) how inter-microbial antagonism influences the overall community structures of plant-associated microbes, II) what the governing rules are regarding when and where it is beneficial to produce bacteriocins (a costly trait), and III) how bacteriocin-mediated antagonism might best be integrated into pathogen control approaches.



Jaime Huerta-Cepas




Michelle Hulin
Is a postdoctoral researcher interested in the molecular evolution, ecology and population genomics of plant pathogenic bacteria. Her current research is focused on Pseudomonas-Prunus interactions, with the eventual aim to identify novel sources of host resistance based on the knowledge of factors that are vital for pathogenicity on these hosts. 


Talia Karasov
Dr. Talia Karasov studies the evolution of Pseudomonas plant pathogens in wild populations. As a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Detlef Weigel at the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology her work aims to determine the genetic elements that differentiate pathogenic from non-pathogenic Pseudomonas and to determine how host genetics influences pathogenicity. Her work combines field work, comparative genomics and genetic analysis to synthesize ecological observations with genetic manipulations. Originally from Madison, WI USA she completed a PhD with Joy Bergelson at the University of Chicago in which she studied the evolution of resistance traits in Arabidopsis thaliana. 


Britt Koskella
Britt Koskella obtained her PhD in 2008 from Indiana University, where she worked with Curtis Lively to test for a role of parasites in maintaining host sexual reproduction and diversity, using experimental coevolution of the New Zealand mud snail and its trematode parasite. She then received a US National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship to work with Angus Buckling at Oxford University and John Thompson at University of California, Santa Cruz on the interaction between bacteriophages, bacterial pathogens, and plants. Koskella is now an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where she combines molecular approaches and experimental (co)evolution to examine phyllosphere microbiome-mediated protection against disease, the importance of microbiome transmission among generations, and the role of bacteria–phage coevolution in shaping the microbiome.


Emilia Lopez Solanilla
She leads the Plant Pathogenic Bacteria Group at the Centre for Plant Biotechnology and Genomics (UPM-INIA) established in 2008. She is Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Polytechnic University of Madrid.
During the first phase of her scientific carrier, her contribution was focused on the study of resistance mechanisms to plant defense in the plant pathogenic model Dickeya dadantii. During a postdoctoral stage at Cornell University (Department of Plant Pathology, Dr. Collmer´s lab), she was involved in the initiative responsible for carrying out pioneering studies on bacterial functional genomics of plant pathogens, expanding her experience to the pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato.
Since then, she has been involved in analyzing specific mechanisms operating during the first stages of the infection in these two model phytopathogenic bacteria. Her scientific interests currently focus on the study of the mechanisms of perception and response to plant and environmental factors in bacterial phytopathogens. Specifically, the group is studying the contribution of light perception and chemotaxis in the regulation of the entry process and establishment of infection into the host ( 


Cindy Morris
Is a senior scientist and research director at the Plant Pathology research unit of INRAE’s* center in Avignon, France where she has worked for the past 30 years.  Her research focuses on microbial ecology to elucidate how the adaptation of microorganisms to their environment affects two seemingly conflicting impacts on the environment: their capacity to i) cause disease, and in particular newly emerging diseases and ii) play beneficial roles in major environmental phenomena. Her research concerns primarily the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae but the team she leads also studies a wide range of other bacterial and fungal pathogens of plants. Questions common to the models of her team are the nature of non-agricultural habits of pathogens and their role in disease outbreaks, and tracking pathways of long distance dissemination via the atmosphere and waterways. In collaboration with Avignon University, she recently co-founded a new international graduate teaching and research program – IMPLANTEUS, to open in Sept 2020 - that will meld plant production and food processing with environmental sciences and human health. Details of her activities are available on her institutional web page (, on her blog ( and via her full publication list ( She also composes lyrics and performs songs about science (linked in her blog site and her publication list).

*Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement (INRAE) was created in Jan 2020 by the fusion of the Institut National de Recherche Agronomique (INRA) and the Institut national de recherche en sciences et technologies pour l'environnement et l'agriculture (IRSTEA).


Gail Preston




Cayo Ramos
Professor Cayo Ramos studied biology and got a PhD in yeast genetics at Universidad de Sevilla, Spain. Following postdoctoral stays at The Carlsberg Laboratories (Copenhagen, Denmark) and at The Spanish National Research Council (Granada), he joined the Technical University of Denmark, where with Professor Søren Molin, he studied the behaviour of bacteria in the rhizosphere of plants. In 2000, he moved to the Universidad de Málaga, Spain. The Cayo’s lab research currently focuses on exploring the molecular mechanisms governing the interaction of bacterial phytopathogens with woody hosts, using as model systems diverse strains of the Pseudomonas syringae complex, with special emphasis to Pseudomonas savastanoi pathovars infecting olive, oleander, ash, broom and dipladenia.




Boris Vinatzer
Is a Professor at Virginia Tech's School of Plant and Environmental Sciences. His research spans from molecular plant-microbe interactions to molecular evolution and taxonomy of plant pathogenic bacteria. He takes advantage of the revolution in DNA sequencing technology to develop bioinformatics tools for precise and fast detection, classification, and identification of plant pathogens and biocontrol agents. A second area of research focuses on environmental microbes that may play a role in the formation of precipitation. Dr. Vinatzer teaches an interdisciplinary undergraduate course in Microbial Forensics and Biosecurity in which he covers concepts of biosecurity through examples of bioterrorism and natural disease epidemics of humans, animals, and plants. Dr. Vinatzer has published over 75 peer-reviewed research articles and book-chapters.