Abbey Neat is from Pasadena, California and is currently conducting research at Oregon State University with Dr. Posy Busby!

Tell us about your project!

I am studying fungal endophytes found in conifer leaf litter. When a tree drops its leaves, its fungal microbiome travels with the leaves as they fall to the ground and will inoculate the next generation of emerging seedlings. I am interested in the fitness benefits (or consequences) of a seedling growing near a same-species adult tree, and the degree to which these benefits (or consequences) can be explained by the leaf-litter microbiota.

What is your favorite fungus and why?

I am a fan of any fungus that tastes good! I think Hericium is the most fun to forage because fruiting bodies are often up on snags or tree trunks rather than down on the forest floor.

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

I really appreciate the various examples of convergent evolution in the fungal kingdom. The fact that fungi forming ectomycorrhizal partnerships can be found in different phyla still blows my mind!

What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?

I host pub trivia! I used to do so in person before the pandemic, but I’ve transitioned to Zoom format for now. I hosted a ‘mycology’ themed trivia for MSA SPS this past November… stay tuned for more! I also like to bike. I biked across the state of Oregon before starting my PhD at Oregon State.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I worked as an instructor and coordinator of an environmental education program for two years before I started my PhD. It was fun and informative to interact with forests through the lens of an educator. It also showed me how important (and challenging) it is to be able to translate my research to diverse audiences.