International Congress of Armenian Mycologists

International Congress of Armenian Mycologists

ICAM is the International Congress of Armenian Mycologists! They are currently based at: Purdue University, Case Western Reserve University,  and University of California, Riverside

Let us know a little bit of your organization!

This group was founded by: Claudia Bashian-Victoroff, Arik Joukhajian, Patricia Kaishian, Tania Kurbessoian

The International Congress of Armenian Mycologists (ICAM) is a network of research scientists of Armenian ethnicity. Our diverse research backgrounds on various aspects of fungal biology are allied in the mission of biological, ecological, and social welfare of all Armenian life forms. As an organization we strive to conduct critical scientific research on the understudied fungal kingdom in the both ancient yet contemporary civilization of Armenia.

What are the goals of ICAM?

Drawing from Armenia’s strong tradition of land stewardship and intimacy with nonhuman life forms, the goal of ICAM is to leverage our passions and training as scientists to simultaneously advance mycological science and Armenian sovereignty. We seek to build science capacity in Armenia by: collaborating with the nation’s already successful scientists through shared grants, co-authorship, and resource allocation; by providing financed scientific mentorship to Armenian youth; and by gathering biological data that can be used in the protection of land and life. Because fungi are understudied worldwide, and Armenia has been home to a low proportion of that research, we aim to describe new species and accrue data for answering critical ecological and evolutionary questions. Seating such research in Armenia will serve to bolster Armenia’s overall impact and contribution to science.

What inspires and motivates ICAM?

Armenia is a predominantly indigenous nation in West Asia whose vibrancy and beauty has withstood the terrors of colonization and genocide for hundreds of years. As Armenians are locked in a struggle of liberation and self-determination against such forces, we believe that human liberation is intimately linked to the liberation of all life, not least of which is fungal. Despite the common assertion to the contrary, science is informed by sociopolitical forces. ICAM recognizes and affirms the positive relationship between indigenous sovereignty and biological diversity in Armenia and beyond, and stands in solidarity with all indigenous social justice efforts around the world.

What type of activities do you organize and participate at?

ICAM is still a newly formed organization, we are still developing our network and programming.  We are currently building an international network of ethnically Armenian mycologists. We are planning collaborative research and grant support, and aim to provide bioinformatics tools to help support Armenian research endeavors. 

Central to our mission is mentorship of Armenian youth and early career scientists. Our plan is to be involved with the Armenian Youth Connect program, a professional and scientific mentorship program sponsored by the Armenian Relief Society.

How can someone get involved/participate in ICAM?

Social media including twitter: @IC_ArmenianMyco

Email: icarmenian.mycologists@gmail.com

And our website: https://icarmenian-mycologists.github.io 

Our group is centered around ethnically Armenian individuals motivated and excited about fungal ecology, taxonomy, biodiversity, lichenology and medical mycology, etc. Feel free to contact us over email or social media to learn more about our regular meetings.

If you are non-Armenian and interested in potential ally-ship and collaboration we encourage you to reach out.

Where can we find more information about ICAM?

Social media including twitter: @IC_ArmenianMyco

Email: icarmenian.mycologists@gmail.com

And our website: https://icarmenian-mycologists.github.io

Is there something else you would like to share with us?

Armenians are an ethnic minority indigenous to the highlands of west Asia and we are survivors of a long history of colonialism, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and racism. This fraught history has left many Armenians disconnected from their ancestral homeland and culturally isolated. There are very few Armenians in general, nevermind in leadership positions in science and academia. The recent and ongoing conflict in the region, which was a continuation of the pan-Turkic settler colonial agenda, left many of us feeling powerless. This group was born out of that struggle.

University of Minnesota Mycology Club

University of Minnesota Mycology Club

Formed in 2012, the University of Minnesota Mycology Club is a platform for learning, teaching and celebrating fungal biology. Their aim is to unify the diversity of fungal knowledge around the campus and community through educational lectures, hands-on workshops, outreach and forays. It is a graduate student-organized university club whose members include undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty, USDA scientists, local mushroom producers, and other interested mycophiles in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

During the warmer months, they grow and sell several kinds of mushrooms (shitakes, oysters, wine caps, lion’s mane) at the local university farmer’s stand. The proceeds from the fungal garden end up funding most of the club’s activities. The club also organizes mushroom forays at nearby state parks that bring in a diverse crowd of attendees who range from ‘expert’ to ‘not sure what a mushroom is’.

During the school year, the club organizes a number of on-campus events geared towards bringing mycologists together and educating the broader community. They also host a weekly myco journal club that is typically attended by graduate students, postdocs, and faculty, and has been a great way to regularly bring together mycologists in different departments and get to know one another. The club brings in researchers to give seminar talks on campus and puts together several workshops, on topics such as log inoculations and cheese-making. And of course, it hosts happy hours and mixers that bring the myco community together.

The UMN Mycology Club does outreach in the Twin Cities areas. The club and its members have organized events at locations such as the Bell Museum of Natural History and at local farmer’s markets. Which are great opportunities for them to bring out their own specimens and engage the public in what they do! The club also has a set of nifty Fungal Flashcards that help people learn common fungi found in Minnesota.

For more information about this club check them out on facebook (University of Minnesota Mycology Club), twitter (@UMNMycology), or their website (mycology.cfans.umn.edu/about-us/).

Prairie States Mushroom Club

Prairie States Mushroom Club

Imagine this: it’s a misty Iowa morning, and a small group of stick-and-basket-wielding mushroom enthusiasts has gathered near a stand of trees. The club members—some carrying small hand shovels, some carrying camera equipment, and all wearing hiking boots—spread out in the forest, only reconvening when someone whistles or calls to the others to observe a particularly interesting find. At the end of the morning, the members gather around a picnic table to identify and catalog their finds, as well as to share anecdotes regarding how a particular taxon might be found, identified, or prepared for consumption. The foray ends with lunch, and members return home with the spoils of their outing.

Formed in 1983, the Prairie States Mushroom Club (PSMC) is Iowa’s foremost amateur mycological society. The organization “promotes scientific and educational activities related to fungi and fosters the appreciation of wild and cultivated mushrooms”, as well as the “practical and scientific study of fungi and the gathering, dissemination and perpetuation of facts and knowledge on that subject.” The group shares their findings with other organizations—namely the North American Mycological Association (NAMA)—and professional mycologists.

While the group boasts a membership from diverse backgrounds (scientists, students, naturalists, and photographers to name a few), it was originally founded by former NAMA president Dr. Don Huffman and Dr. Lois Tiffany to help gather data on populations of morels (Morchella spp.) in the region. Since the conclusion of this study, however, the group’s interests have expanded beyond far beyond morels. Now, PSMC conducts forays around Iowa, encouraging seasoned and inexperienced mycophiles alike to explore the diversity of fungi for food and pleasure.

Of course, PSMC does more than just conduct forays.  The group also recruits speakers to lecture on interesting topics related to fungal biology, circulates an annual calendar of photos taken by members, and even produces its own newsletter. This newsletter often contains editorial pieces written by members, which often relate more intimate experiences with fungi, such as club president Glen Schwartz’s article “The Magic Stump” in which he relates his first experiences with mushrooms, his introduction to the PSMC, and a tree stump that supported remarkable diversity of fungi.

For those interested in membership or correspondence, the club can be contacted by e-mailing iowamushroom@gmail.com, or by visiting their website at www.iowamushroom.org.

Carolina Piña-Páez

caro - Carolina Piña Páez

Carolina Piña Páez grew up in Hermosillo, Sonora, México. She is currently doing research on the Madrean Sky Islands of Arizona and Mexico. Her advisor is Joey Spatafora. 

Tell us about your project! 

My project combines fieldwork and laboratory experiments to unravel past climate change cycles’ effects on Rhizopogon and their hosts (Pinaceae) in the Madrean Sky Islands of the Southwestern US and Northwestern Mexico. Specifically, I’m studying how Rhizopogon salebrosus has migrated with its hosts and how isolation and environment is shaping its evolutionary trajectory.

What awards would you like to brag about?

I’ve been fortunate to have received scholarships from multiple mushroom societies from North America:

  • 2019 Ben Woo Scholarship – Puget Sound Mycological Society
  • 2019 Anita Summers award – Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University
  • 2018 Oregon Mycological Society award
  • 2018 Sonoma County Mycological Association scholarship
  • 2016-2020 CONACYT scholarship recipient for PhD studies
  • 2013 Henry Pavelek Memorial Scholarship – North American Truffling Society

What are your career goals/plans for after you’re done your current position?

My ultimate career goal is to become a professor at a university. I’d love to teach classes in combination with research and fieldwork.  Probably the next step for me is a postdoc position. I’m particularly interested in how recombination impacts genetic diversity.

What is your favorite fungus and why?

It has to be a truffle! Rhizopogon is the closest to my heart, as it was my first truffle but also it’s the protagonist of my PhD project. Rhizopogon salebrosus sporocarps feed a lot of small mammals in the forest, as well as playing a crucial role in seedling establishment after disturbance (like the fires that the West Coast is experiencing right now).

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

Their ability to survive and acquire food from many different sources. Just think about all the different trophic modes present in the Kingdom Fungi! 

Who is your mycology role model?

Jim Trappe

Any great stories from field work?

In 2018, we were in Mexico sampling truffles and collecting soil for greenhouse experiments.  Tláloc was generous, and we had a great year collecting with more than 200 Rhizopogon specimens found. We isolated some cultures in the airbnb, and the soil samples were triple-bagged— as indicated by the USDA—we had a transportation permit, everything was seemingly in order.  The original plan was that Aldo Saldaña, my friend and collaborator, would take us to the airport in Tucson. When we were crossing the border in Nogales, AZ, there was something wrong with the permit…they said that the samples needed to be sent to El Paso, TX, where they could potentially be destroyed!  I asked if there was a possibility that Aldo could take the samples back to México, buying some time, so we could fulfill the requirement that was missing (a heads up email to the border patrol 22 days prior the border crossing). They allowed Aldo to take the samples back, and problem 1 was resolved! Then, we had to figure out how to get to the airport, since our ride was now going back to Mexico with our samples. We walked to the closest gas station in the pouring rain and we experienced the fury of the monsoon. Finally,  we were able to book a shuttle back to Tucson. Once safe at home in Oregon, I sent the infamous email to the US Customs & Border Patrol Agriculture Specialist. Then a return trip a month later meant that I was able to cross the samples without issue.

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

Cooking is one of my biggest passions, I also enjoy beadwork and to learn new weaving techniques.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I’m actively looking for a Post doc position, if you’re looking for a new postdoc, send me an email: pinapaec@oregonstate.edu.

Terry Torres-Cruz

Terry J Torres Cruz grew up in Costa Rica. She is currently doing research at Penn State-State College with Dr. David Geiser. 

Tell us about your project! 

My thesis project aims to describe a potential new plant-fungal mimicry system and the potential involvement of insects in this interaction.

What awards would you like to brag about?

During my time at Penn State, I have been recognized for my leadership work inside the institution with the “2021 Student Leader Scholarship” and for my efforts to promote intercultural understanding on campus and beyond with the “2020 Ardeth and Norman Frisbey International Graduate Student Award”. I was awarded the “Jose de la Torres Scholarship” and the “Black Research Fund Travel Award” in 2018 by the College of Agricultural Sciences. My department has also supported me through a variety of awards: “James F & Marilyn Tammen Memorial Endowment” in 2020 and 2021, “Leonard J. Francl Memorial Endowment” in 2020, “Larry J. Jordan Memorial Endowment” in 2018, and the “Herbert Cole Jr. Fund” in 2018.

From MSA, I have received the Clark T Rogerson Research Award in 2019 to support a field trip and the Mentor Student Travel Award in the name of James M. Trappe in 2015. When I first came to the US to start my studies in mycology in 2014, I received an award from the “Internship Incentive Fund” by the Costa Rica Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología – Consejo Nacional para Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas and an award from the “International Travel Fund” by the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica that made possible my work at Western Illinois University and opened an array of research and professional opportunities for me.

What are your career goals/plans for after you’re done your current position?

I want to start my own lab in a research institution where I can mentor students and conduct research in the tropics.

What is your favorite fungus and why?

Bifiguratus adelaidae because its description was part of my master’s work and part of the work that led me to the mycology field.

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

That even though there is so much research about fungi there is still so much to be discovered. And that the lack of knowledge and abundance of misinformation related to fungi in the general public actually gives US many opportunities to share our love for fungi (and knowledge) with others

Who is your mycology role model?

Drs. Andrea Porras-Alfaro and Priscila Chaverri because representation matters and seeing the amazing work they have done over the years as Costa Rican female mycologists inspires me to pursue my mycological dreams

Any great stories from field work?

A few come to mind that are funny in retrospective but were not so much in the moment, like hearing a jaguar close by and thinking that was it for me or discovering parasites under my skin after a field trip.

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

I spend a really big part of my free time doing volunteer/leadership work through different organizations and committees. I also enjoy being a mentor to female students in STEM and participate in different mentorship opportunities. After all that there is little free time left, but I enjoy traveling to new places, being outdoors, singing, and watching TV series.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

If you want to know more about my work, please visit my website: terrytorrescruz.com Also, I have a small community science project where I ask people doing work in northern South America to report observations of the system I am working with for my main PhD project (see info on my website).

Post-doc at UC-Riverside (Fungal Ecology)

Department of Microbiology and Plant Pathology

University of California, Riverside (UCR)

The Glassman Lab at the University of California, Riverside is now accepting applications for a postdoctoral researcher position focused on fungal ecology. The Glassman lab studies ectomycorrhizal, arbuscular mycorrhizal, and saprobic fungal ecology, bacterial-fungal interactions, decomposition, the impacts of fires on fungi and bacteria, and the use of microbes to improve post-fire regeneration. The recruit has the potential to lead ongoing projects in the Glassman lab or propose their own independent idea relevant to ongoing projects in the Glassman lab. We use a combination of approaches including fieldwork, greenhouse work, culturing, molecular ecology, next generation sequencing, bioinformatics and multivariate statistical analyses to advance fungal ecology. For more information on the Glassman lab please visit our website: https://sydneyglassman.wordpress.com.

Applicants should have, or be close to receiving, a PhD in microbial ecology, mycology, molecular ecology, or a closely related area. Applicants with experience working with arbuscular and/or ectomycorrhizal fungi will be given high priority. Additional minimum qualifications include: at least one peer-reviewed first-author publication in a related field, willingness to perform field work in California, effective written and oral communication skills, ability to work well independently and as part of a team, and passion for fungi. Additional necessary qualifications include: bacterial or fungal culturing, expertise in ecological experimental design, programming in R, advanced multivariate statistical analysis, bioinformatics, and molecular techniques including DNA extractions, PCRs, and 16S or ITS sequencing. Experience with or desire to learn network analysis, metagenomics, genomics, or transcriptomics would be a bonus.

UC Riverside is a world-class research university with an exceptionally diverse undergraduate student body. Its mission is explicitly linked to providing routes to educational success for underrepresented and first-generation college students. A commitment to this mission is a preferred qualification.

How to apply/contact: The position could commence as early as April 15, 2021 but no later than July 15, 2021. Screening will begin February 15 and will continue until the position is filled. Salaries scales for first year post-doctoral researchers begin at $53,460 and are available on this website (https://graduate.ucr.edu/postdoctoral-studies). All UC Riverside Postdoctoral scholars are eligible to participate in the Postdoctoral Scholar Benefit Plans, which include medical, dental, vision, life, and disability insurance. Candidates should apply directly to Dr. Sydney Glassman via email to sydneyg@ucr.edu by submitting a single PDF file containing: Curriculum vitae (CV) and cover letter indicating your research interests and how you meet the minimum qualifications, and listing the contact information of three references. The subject of the email should be “Postdoctoral Scholar in Fungal Ecology”.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Postdoctoral Research Associate Position- Doyle Lab, Louisiana State University

The Doyle Lab at Louisiana State University is recruiting a postdoctoral research associate to be involved in a project to understand the role of soil microbiota in the dieback of Phragmites australis along the Gulf Coast and research to develop approaches leveraging native soil microbes for restoration efforts. The postdoctoral research associate will be expected to play a part in designing and conducting field, mesocosm, greenhouse, and laboratory experiments, analyzing data, writing manuscripts, presenting results at meetings and conferences, and mentoring undergraduates. Prior experience with microbiome data collection and statistical analysis is required. Ability to carry out strenuous work in a hot and humid climate in coastal marsh habitats will be necessary. Demonstrated experience carrying out microbiome studies, preferably in the context of plant-soil-microbe interactions, is required. Preference will be given to those with a background in mycology and/or experience working with fungal and bacterial cultures. Excellent interpersonal, oral and written communication skills and a willingness and ability to interact and collaborate with other scientists are essential to the success of the research. A valid Louisiana State driver’s license and ability to drive is required at the time of appointment. A start date in March is preferred.

Please contact Vinson Doyle if you have any questions at: vdoyle@agcenter.lsu.edu

Applications should be submitted here

Bioinformatics Resources

Hi there!

This section will list resources for bioinformatics that we thought might be useful!

If you have additional bioinformatics resources you would like us to share send us an email at students.msa@gmail.com.

1. Introduction to Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

This is a GitHub for the Harvard course of Intro to Bioinformatics and Computational Biology! This resource was set up by: Xiaole Shirley Liu, Joshua Starmer, Martin Hemberg, Ting Wang, Feng Yue, Ming Tang, Yang Liu, Jack Kang, Scarlett Ge, Jiazhen Rong, Phillip Nicol and Maartin De Vries.

2. A ggplot2 Tutorial for Beautiful Plotting in R

This is a tutorial for the ggplot2 package on R. The tutorial was set up by Cédric Scherer, check the following Tweet for more info of the tutorial https://twitter.com/CedScherer/status/1335918784729800704?s=20.

Graduate Student at Whitman Lab

The Whitman Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are recruiting a new graduate student (MS or PhD) to join their Soil Ecology lab starting as soon as summer or fall of 2021!

“Students will work with Dr. Thea Whitman as an advisor to develop a project investigating the effects of wildfires on soil microbial ecology and organic matter biogeochemistry. The ideal candidates would have a strong interest in soil ecology and experience in at least some of the following: field or laboratory research, microbiology, soil science, biogeochemistry, ecology, statistical analyses, or bioinformatics (Python or R).

Students will be enrolled in the Soil Science graduate research program (or can potentially be advised through Plant Pathology, the Microbiology Doctoral Training Program, Agroecology, Environment and Resources, or Environmental Chemistry and Technology) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the position will be a 50% Research Assistantship that will include a stipend of $2,068/month. Health care benefits are included in the appointment. UW- Madison has a strong culture of collaboration across fields, and the selected graduate students will interact with researchers from diverse fields, including microbiology, geography, forest ecology, agronomy, and environmental studies.

Applications should be submitted to twhitman@wisc.edu by February 26, 2021, and include a letter describing your interest in the position, a CV, a record of grades (e.g., copy of transcript), and the name and contact information for three references. Successful applicants will need to apply to the Soil Science graduate program through the UW Madison graduate school and be accepted (requires TOEFL scores (if applicable), official transcripts, and letters of recommendation; does not require GRE scores).”

Check Dr. Whitman’s lab website for more info! https://whitmanlab.soils.wisc.edu/