Chair: Abbey Neat

Hi! My name is Abbey Neat and I am a PhD student at Oregon State University. I spent the last year serving on the Executive Board of the Student and PostDoc Section as Vice President. I had a great time, and I am excited at the opportunity to continue serving on the board as the Chair. I have had past experience in leadership positions. After I finished undergrad, I worked as the coordinator of an environmental education program in which middle school classes would spend a week living in nature and learning about ecology. I was responsible for planning and leading staff training, so that the educators felt comfortable and confident teaching science materials to the visiting students. I also worked directly with the schools to coordinate their visit. More recently as a PhD student, I coordinated a professional development series for the REU students in our lab. This included workshops such as a faculty panel, graduate student panel, how to write a research proposal, and an end of summer symposium. I enjoy serving in this type of leadership position, and I hope to bring the ideas I have acquired from my past experiences to the board of MSA SPS as Chair.

Vice Chair: Xiomy Pinchi-Dávila

I’m a third-year PhD student working under the supervision of Dr. Anny Chung in the Plant Pathology Department at the University of Georgia. My project focuses on understanding the mechanisms driving sorghum root microbiome assembly under drought stress. Previous to my PhD, I received a Master’s degree from Western Illinois University, where I worked with Dr. Andrea Porras-Alfaro describing a new fungal species (paper coming soon!). I am also the founder of Hongos Peru, a juvenile Peruvian organization (yes, I am Peruvian) that aims to spread scientific information about fungi. I am passionate about plant-fungal interactions, especially in root systems (including endophytes, root-associated fungi, and mycorrhizae) and how these associations impact plant community structure and crops. During my PhD, I hope to better understand how the root microbiome assembles and how we can harness host-root microbiome interactions in sustainable agriculture. I have served as the Communication Chair for the past two years, and I am really excited to continue serving MSA. My plan is to continue the legacy of our previous chair of organizing colloquiums/other activities in Spanish to recruit more underrepresented groups.

Secretary: Justina Martelli

Hello everyone! I am an undergraduate Biology Major at the University of California, Los Angeles. When I was 10, I noticed mushrooms sprouting in the garden after rains and my wonder for them led me to the LA Mycological Society, which I have been a member of ever since. Through their identification classes and research lectures, I developed a strong passion for mycology and am on a mission to make this field more accessible. During the pandemic, I attended MSA’s virtual conference and was deeply drawn by this beautifully tight web of mycologists and their interests. Volunteering for Fungal Diversity Survey during the time of their new website and social media launches and attending Sonoma County Mycological Society’s mushroom camps opened my eyes to networking and spreading awareness of mycology – especially for the next generation. Most universities do not require or include fungi in their course objectives; students thus miss a vast and fascinating branch of science that needs much investigation. In summer of 2022 I was an assistant researcher at Dr. Marcus Roper’s mycofluidics lab, studying sporal and genetic behavior in the multinucleate Neurospora crassa. I learned what it takes to write good observations and adequately communicate with members, and now founded UCLA’s first mycology student organization with the aim to spread fungal conservation awareness and teach proper documenting skills. This summer I will be using molecular techniques to study mycoheterotrophic relationships and fungal life cycles at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in The Netherlands under Drs. Vincent Merckx and Jorinde Nuytinck. I look forward to applying the knowledge I gain wherever I go, and strengthening this organization’s connections internationally. I’m an avid notetaker, love meeting and connecting people, and am determined to help MSA expand the world of mycology.

Treasurer: Rebecca Mader

I am a first-year MSc biology student studying old-growth forest fungi at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada, and I am nominating myself for the secretary and the treasurer positions on the MSA SPS 2023–2024 Exec Board. I have always had a deep connection with the natural world—as such, I love learning about all areas of biology and enjoy sharing my passions with others. I am also deeply interested in mycology and am eager to get more involved with the MSA as a member of the Exec Board. I believe I am well suited to the secretary and treasurer position and have a lot to offer the team. I have served on several executive committees, most recently as the Vice President of Administration of the Acadia Medical Campus Response Team (2021–2023), where I organized shift schedules and ran PD sessions for the volunteer medical first responders on our team. I also served as Treasurer of Acadia Global Brigades (2019–2020), where I helped organize a student humanitarian trip to Honduras to implement sustainable infrastructure and medical care in remote villages. Through these experiences I developed efficient communication, organization, teamwork, and problem-solving skills, all of which would help me succeed as a member of the SPS Board. I would work hard to ensure good organization and effective communication on the Exec Board. I would also offer my ideas and experiences to continue building the MSA in collaboration with my peers.

Merchandise Chair: Lluvia Vargas

I’m a Postdoctoral scholar at Oregon State University. Prior to joining OSU, I earned my master’s and Ph.D. degrees at the Centro de Investigacion Cientifica y de Educacion Superior de Ensenada (CICESE) in Baja California, Mexico. During my time at CICESE, I served on various committees dedicated to organizing both national and international meetings hosted by the institution. In these roles, I was responsible for designing promotional materials and raising awareness about the events among potential attendees. Additionally, during my undergraduate studies, I was an active member of the Student Association, where I organized symposia on a range of biotechnology-related topics.

Communication and Social Media Chair: Diana Vargas-Hernandez

Hi everyone! My name is Diana Vargas-Hernandez. I’m a first-year Master’s student in the Environmental and Conservation Science Program. This program belongs to the Department of Biological Sciences at North Dakota State University. I’m an enthusiastic learner of the mycology world. I’m especially interested in plant-fungi interactions. Currently, I’m working in the identification of potential synergistic effects of fungal endophytes against the coffee pathogen Mycena citricolor. I think getting involved in the executive board of the Student and Postdoc Section of the Mycological Society of America will be a great opportunity to connect with peers from different fields in Mycology. Networking is like mycelium, it extends to keep getting nutrients, in this case knowledge. I believe teamwork is the key to success in any organization. I would like to support MSA SPS as communication chair. Social media has a huge impact in society, so a well use of this tool would increase the interest of mycology. I consider I have the energy and motivation to assume the role and do my best to spread information about MSA SPS labor to the world. Thanks for all the support! Keep having fun with fungi!

Webmaster: Thomas Roehl

Hello, MSA Students and Postdocs! My name is Thomas Roehl (he/him/his) and I am a Ph.D. student in the Hibbett Lab at Clark University. Although I am currently in New England, my mycological home is the Central Appalachians. I was first introduced to mycology on Salt Pond Mountain in southwestern Virginia over a decade ago (has it really been that long?). I fell in love with mushroom hunting on Lewis Mountain in the foothills around the University of Virginia (B.S. Biology, 2013). I decided I could really do mycology as a career in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. Of course, I’m also inspired by fungi from other places as well. I was drawn to mushroom development during my masters work (M.S., University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, 2022) thanks to malformed Amanita specimens from Maryland and an oddball Oudemansiella furfuracea from Michigan. I’m now using Lentinus tigrinus to study mushroom evolutionary development, a field I enjoy because of the many ways it connects to and integrates knowledge from other mycological fields. Keep your eyes peeled and stop to smell the mushrooms!

Postdoc Representative: Terry Torres Cruz

Terry recently completed her PhD in Plant Pathology and Biogeochemistry in the Geiser Lab at Penn State working on Fusarium xyrophilum interactions with other organisms in a potential mimicry system. She is currently a postdoc in the Aime Lab at Purdue University studying coffee leaf rust. Terry has ample experience in leadership roles Terry has served MSA on various positions since joining the society in 2015. Terry has served as webmaster, vice-chair and chair of the MSA SPS Exec Board between 2015-2018 and has volunteered as a student representative on MSA Committees for the past 8 years, including the Nomenclature, Nominations, and International Committees. She is interested in now serving the society with a focus on engaging the MSA postdoctoral community and implementing professional development