Director Prof Mark Laing honoured by plant pathologists
ACCI founder and director, Prof Mark Laing, has been elected a Fellow of the Southern African Society for Plant Pathology (SASPP). Prof Mark Laing has been a member of the society since 1983, as a postgraduate student. Mark’s involvement in the SASPP has been significant. He was involved in the redrafting of the constitution and regulations of the SASPP, Regional Branch Chair for KZN from 1990 to 2003, and President (2014 to 2019).
He has published extensively in the field (over 380 research items and publications) and trained more than 160 MSc and PhD students. He also established and manages the highly successful African Centre for Crop Improvement (ACCI). His research interests range from biocontrol of pathogens, pests, and nematodes to plant breeding and near-infra-red analysis. In addition, Prof Laing has a keen interest in the global climate crisis and gives lectures on the topic to professional scientific societies, environmental groups and school children. He retires at the end of 2022, after 44 years in Plant Pathology, 38 years as an academic at the University of Natal and UKZN, and 22 years as the Professor and Chair of Plant Pathology. He has been nominated to become a Professor Emeritus at UKZN. He will continue to supervise postgraduates, and manage projects on biocontrol, postharvest disease management, near-infra red analysis and the breeding and commercialization of sweet sorghum, sugar beet and cassava. He will continue to work with a biocontrol company (Andermatt-PHP (Pty) Ltd) and a medicinal plants company (Imiti (Pty) Ltd), which he co-founded. He was recently elected as Chairman of PADCA (the Pietermaritzburg and District Council for the Aged), which manages six retirement facilities in Pietermaritzburg. His great passion is golf, with a handicap down to 9 in 2022.