Madeline Lueck

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Madeline Lueck is our student spotlight for the month of November! Madeline grew up in East Bay Area, California, and is currently a graduate student at Washington State University, Tri-Cities, working with Dr. Tanya Cheeke.

Tell us about your project!

Have you ever walked into a garden shop and seen those bags of mycorrhizae on the shelf? Well, I am currently researching how those commercial mycorrhizal products and locally adapted AMF influence plant growth in a perennial crop.

Which awards would you like to brag about?

I graduated with honors from Humboldt State University (BS in Botany)

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

I have always wanted to work for a university extension or a state or federal agency in research related to agriculture or forestry, with an emphasis on mycoremediation and mycorestoration as we face shifts in our global climate. My current position as a MSc student has introduced me to the world of teaching and I find that to be incredibly fulfilling, so that may become a path I choose to pursue down the line.

What is your favorite fungus and why?

One of my favorite fungi is Fistulina hepatica aka beefsteak fungus. Not only does its bright red color add ornamentation to the stumps it grows on, but it also makes a wonderful jerky to enjoy during the Fall.

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

I am amazed by the diverse world of fungi and the multitude of ecological niches they fill, such as serving as decomposers or mutualists. I am also intrigued by the prevalence of mycophobia in our society – it is my hope that by shedding light the ecological roles of fungi and their important uses to humans, those fears can be turned into fascination.

Who is your mycology role model?

Not so much a single role model, but Bay Area Applied Mycology is a group that has worked to make simple tools used in mycology, such as cultivation techniques and access to labs, available to the public. I think their message and goal is awesome, and their presence in the community while l was living in California was a big influence for why I chose to pursue mycology.

Any great stories from field work (funny/interesting/something that stuck out to you)?

After I completed my BS, I worked as a field tech by performing Sudden Oak Death surveys in Northern California. The areas that we worked in were dense with Douglas fir and huckleberry – so dense, that we often had to crawl on our bellies under the huckleberry. While tedious and slow, this belly crawl tactic was the best way to come across those camouflaged Craterellus cornucopioides and C. tubaeformis. Definitely worth the scrapes and ticks!

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

In my free time, I love to explore natural areas through hiking and trail running. I also enjoy screen printing, making crafts, and gardening.

Anything else you’d like to talk about?

I feel so thankful to be able to combine my passions for horticulture and mycology into my research, and I have been very lucky to have the support from some amazing mentors, family, and friends. One of my goals by pursuing biology is make it more accessible to the public through outreach, education, and collaboration. How can we share our knowledge in ways that promote education in mycology beyond the scientific community?

Gary Olds

Gary Olds is currently doing research at the Denver Botanical Gardens with Dr. Andrew Wilson.

Tell us about your project!

My project, “Applying a Modified Metabarcoding Approach for the Sequencing of Macrofungal Specimens,” explores laboratory techniques in taking the efficiency (time, labor, and cost) of environmental DNA sequencing and applying that to the historically slower and more costly methods of sequencing specimens in fungaria.

Which awards would you like to brag about?

Alexander H. and Helen V. Smith Research Award (2021)

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

I plan to go into biodiversity research and education. I plan to have a career in natural resource conservation and sustainability, especially in connecting communities to nature.

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

The genus Claviceps, especially Claviceps purpurea (rye ergot fungus) is a type of fungus that is a disease on cereal grasses such as rye. This fungus is not only a disease of these plants but can cause ergotism in humans when consumed (these are commercial crop-type plants). There is a theory that this fungus, causing ergotism, is the cause of hysteria and hallucinations that resulted in witch trials.

Who is your mycology role model?

Vera Stucky Evenson

Any great stories from field work (funny/interesting/something that stuck out to you)?

My best foray was one at a mushroom fair in which I found my first ever (and pretty big) ruby porcinis (Boletus rubriceps), got to spend time with (and get my books signed by) my mycology role model (Vera Stucky Evenson), and met Dr. Andy Wilson, with whom I built a connection and eventually became his graduate student.

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

My favorite activity is mountain biking. I enjoy biking through the city and solitude with reading, drawing, coloring, crafting, and creative projects.

Anything else you’d like to talk about?

I am also a zookeeper! In addition to my passion for mushrooms and plants, I love animals and teaching people. I work with an animal ambassador program at an aquarium. This means I provide daily husbandry (care, feeding, training, check-ups) for education animals and also run public programs and behavior demonstrations with these animals. The collection I work with consists of 12 mammals, 6 birds, 9 reptiles, and 2 invertebrates.

Magnolia Morelli

Magnolia Morelli grew up in Salt Lake City, UT, and is currently doing research at Utah Valley University with Geoffrey Zahn.

Tell us about your project!

I am currently planning a research trip to Costa Rica to study mycophagy within primates. I will be collecting data at La Selva Biological station over the course of a month.

Which awards would you like to brag about?

I have received a National Science Foundation fellowship to attend Utah Valley University which includes full tuition and an annual stipend for travel and research funds.

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

My current plan after graduation is to pursue a PhD program centered around mycology. This will set me up to be a professor at a University where I can work on other research projects.

What is your favorite fungus and why?

It is so difficult to pick just one! If I had to choose I’d say the Rhodotus palmatus. It reminds me of something fantastical. How fungi can be what we typically think of as “mushroom” but it can also be something magic.

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

The first fact that got me interested in fungi is that they are more closely related to animals than plants. This blew my mind when I first found out. They are so much more complex than we have yet discovered.

Who is your mycology role model?

My grandpa Peter is my mycology role model. He was the first person to push my desire of adventure. I remember going out into the woods and searching for mushrooms on logs and in caves when I was just a kid.

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

My free time is mostly consumed by studying for my future research. I love reading up on new studies that are happening throughout the world. If I am not reading I am traveling. I travel as much as I can. My ultimate goal is to visit every country in the world. I love discovering new things, places, and cultures.

Postdoc position at Middle Tennessee State University (Walker Lab)

University: Middle Tennessee State University

Location: Murfreesboro, TN

Job Category: Postdoctoral Research Associate 

Salary: $50,000/year plus benefits 

Start date: January 2022

Last date to apply: December 18, 2021

Website: https://walkerlabmtsu.weebly.com/

Description:

The Microbiome Ecology Lab at Middle Tennessee State University is seeking an outstanding postdoctoral research associate for an NSF funded project entitled “Gut-inhabiting fungi influence structure and function of herptile microbiomes through horizontal gene transfer and novel metabolic function”. Understanding the biodiversity and function of microbes that are present in the digestive tracts of reptiles and amphibians is critical for insight into their role in host health. The NSF project will focus on the filamentous fungus Basidiobolus as an important member of reptile and amphibian gut microbiomes. Preliminary evidence suggests that this fungus influences what types of bacteria are present in the digestive tract. Genomic sequencing of the Basidiobolus fungus shows that genes have been transferred to the fungus from the gut bacteria. This transfer of genes between bacteria and fungi results in novel metabolism in the fungus that we propose plays important roles in regulating the reptile/amphibian host’s immune system, iron metabolism, and chemical communication with the gut bacteria. An interdisciplinary scientific approach will occur with Dr. Jason Stajich at University of California Riverside and Drs. Joey Spatafora and Kerry McPhail at Oregon State University to understand the functional roles that specialized metabolites play in microbial interactions between fungi and bacteria in gut microbiomes of animals and also other natural microbiomes. 

The postdoctoral research associate will 1) conduct a controlled live animal experiment to study bacterial-fungal interactions in the Wood Frog gut microbiome and 2) contribute to field work, molecular processing, and statistical analysis of large heterogeneous microbial community ecology datasets. 

The target start date is January 2022. Initial appointment is for one year with the possibility of renewal given satisfactory performance.

Position breakdown: 

90% data collection, analysis and manuscript preparation

10% student training and outreach

To apply: 

Follow instructions at the link (https://careers.mtsu.edu/en-us/job/495502/biology-postdoctoral-research-assistant) to complete an online application for the position and attach the following documents:

  • Cover letter describing your relevant experience, research interests, and why you are interested in this position.
  • CV
  • Transcripts
  • PDFs of relevant publications
  • List of three references

Review of the applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. For more information, please contact Dr. Donny Walker (Donald.Walker@mtsu.edu)

Qualifications:

  • PhD in community ecology, microbiology, molecular biology, microbial ecology, wildlife disease or a closely related field.
  • Excellent quantitative skills and substantial experience in R.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills including a demonstrated ability to publish as first author in peer-reviewed journals. 
  • Motivated with an excellent work ethic.

Other desired qualifications:

  • Experience with reptile or amphibian animal husbandry
  • Field work experience 

Contact person: Donny Walker

Contact email: Donald.Walker@mtsu.edu

PhD position at Middle Tennesee State University (Walker Lab)

University: Middle Tennessee State University

Location: Murfreesboro, TN

Job Category: Graduate Research Assistantship (PhD)

Salary: $30,000/year plus tuition remission

Start date: January 18, 2022

Last date to apply: December 18, 2021

Website: https://walkerlabmtsu.weebly.com/

Description:

The Microbiome Ecology Lab at Middle Tennessee State University is seeking an outstanding PhD student beginning January 2022 in the Molecular Biosciences program. Research expertise in the Microbiome Ecology Lab is in the areas of molecular evolution and molecular ecology of microorganisms with an emphasis on pathogenic fungi of animals. We use a variety of molecular and microbiological techniques to understand host-microbiome-pathogen associations and the synergistic to antagonistic interactions within these systems. Emerging infectious fungal pathogens are threatening wildlife species world-wide, therefore, we are interested in answering questions that inform management of species of greatest conservation need in the southeastern US. 

Understanding the biodiversity and function of microbes that are present in the digestive tracts of reptiles and amphibians is critical for insight into their role in host health. The PhD student’s project will focus on the filamentous fungus Basidiobolus as an important member of reptile and amphibian gut microbiomes. Preliminary evidence suggests that this fungus influences what types of bacteria are present in the digestive tract. Genomic sequencing of the Basidiobolus fungus shows that genes have been transferred to the fungus from the gut bacteria. This transfer of genes between bacteria and fungi results in novel metabolism in the fungus that we propose plays important roles in regulating the reptile/amphibian host’s immune system, iron metabolism, and chemical communication with the gut bacteria. An interdisciplinary scientific approach will be used to understand the functional roles that specialized metabolites play in microbial interactions between fungi and bacteria in gut microbiomes of animals and also other natural microbiomes. The PhD student will have the opportunity to participate in field and outreach activities with zoos and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Interdisciplinary training of the PhD student will occur with Dr. Jason Stajich at University of California, Riverside and Drs. Joey Spatafora and Kerry McPhail at Oregon State University.  

To apply: Submit a single pdf that includes a cover letter summarizing your qualifications and interest in the position, followed by CV, unofficial transcripts and GRE scores (if available), and contact information for three references to Dr. Donny Walker (Donald.Walker@mtsu.edu).

Qualifications:

  • MSc in community ecology, microbiology, molecular biology, microbial ecology, wildlife disease or a closely related field.
  • Excellent quantitative skills and substantial experience in R.
  • Ability to perform field work.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills including a demonstrated ability to publish in peer-reviewed journals. 
  • Motivated with an excellent work ethic.

Contact person: Donny Walker

Contact email: Donald.Walker@mtsu.edu

Faculty Position in Bacteriology

The Department of Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is seeking candidates whose research addresses important questions at the forefront of any area of microbiology in any domain of life. The candidate should place an emphasis on molecular mechanisms underlying their area of research. The full job listing for this tenure track Assistant Professor position can be found here: https://jobs.hr.wisc.edu PVL: 235869

The UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and Bacteriology are committed to maintaining and growing a culture that embraces diversity, inclusion, and equity, believing that these values are foundational elements of our excellence and fundamental components of a positive and enriching learning and working environment for all students, faculty, and staff.

Deadline to Apply Oct 15 2021

Nicole Colón-Carrión

Nicole Colón-Carrión grew up in Puerto Rico and is currently doing research at the University of Arizona with Dr. Elizabeth Arnold.

Tell us about your project!

In my dissertation research I seek to understand how climate changes impact plant-fungal associations, with a focus on two main environments: wild tropical forests and agricultural systems. Specifically, my work focuses on (1) understanding how hurricane disturbances affect the diversity and composition of fungal symbionts associated with roots and leaves of tropical forest trees; (2) exploring how fungal symbionts can protect cultivated plants against disease under a rapidly warming climate; and (3) assessing the needs and knowledge of farmers in Puerto Rico regarding the control and management of pests and pathogens in the field in order to customize educational lesson plan that best fit their needs.

Which awards would you like to brag about?

I was awarded with the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (GRFP), the Dr. Leathers Graduate Student Scholarship from the Arizona Mushroom Society, and with the National Geographic Early Career Award were I received the title of National Geographic Explorer. Currently, I was awarded with the MSA Interchange Ambassador Award to support my two projects, “Micología en Ruedas” and “LatinX mycleium”.

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

My career goal is to return to Puerto Rico as an extension specialist focused on the use development microbe-microbe interactomes into biocontrol strategies to reduce pathogenicity and the use of chemical agents in the landscape. I also aim to continue developing education programs and material that increase science exposure to underrepresented communities.

What is your favorite fungus and why?

If microscopic, Aspergillus niger. It was the first fungus I isolated from rice as an undergraduate researcher. If macroscopic, the basket stinkhorn (Clathrus ruber). I just love it s structure and bright color.

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

The diversity of them and the significant roles they plan in ecosystem functioning. Also, I love their structures and colors.

Who is your mycology role model?

I am going to go with two Puerto Rican mycologist for this one. The first is Dr. Sharon Cantrell. Dr. Cantrell became the first Puerto Rican woman to be appointed as president of the Mycological Society of America and have done amazing work in elucidating the diversity of fungi within the tropical forest of Puerto Rico. The second is Dr. Chad Lozada. Dr. Lozada introduced me to the wonderful world of fungi as my research mentor at the University of Puerto Rico Cayey Campus. His passion and mentorship motivated me pursue a graduate degree in the field in order to later training the next generation of Puerto Rican mycologist.

Any great stories from field work?

Always wear bug spray if you are sampling in the tropics!

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

I love to dance (salsa particularly), spent time in the beach, and read.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Along with my Ph.D., I am currently pursuing a certificate in College Teaching from the UA. This certificate provided me with a new appreciation for educational research. The knowledge obtained though this certificate and the eagerness to help underrepresented communities are the reasons I emerge myself in curriculum and educational program development. Something that I wish to continue as a Post-doctoral researcher. If you know of fellowships and grants that support this kind of work, send them my way (ncoloncarrion@email.arizona.edu). Also, for updates and cool pictures about “Micología en Ruedas” and “LatinX mycleium” stay tune to @ncoloncarrion (Twitter) and @thePuertoRicanmycologist (IG).

Research Biologist/Microbiologist/Plant pathologist with the USDA

The USDA, ARS, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, Illinois, is seeking a Research Biologist/Microbiologist/Plant Pathologist. The incumbent serves as a Researcher in the Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology (MPM) Research Unit. As a Researcher, the incumbent will conduct research, develop epidemiological models to predict severity of mycotoxin contamination in maize; and determine how future climate predictions might impact the distribution and diversity of mycotoxigenic fungi and mycotoxin contamination in different geographic regions of the U.S. The incumbent will publish peer reviewed journal articles focused on
the epidemiology, ecology and management of ear rot and mycotoxin contamination of maize. The goal of the research is to develop novel approaches to reduce mycotoxin contamination in maize in response to
stakeholder needs.

U.S. Citizenship is required. Applications must be received by the closing date of June 3, 2021.

USDA/ARS is an equal opportunity employer and provider

From https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/600219900

Location: Peoria, IL

Summary: The incumbent serves as a Research Biologist/ Microbiologist/Plant Pathologist in the Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology (MPM) Research Unit, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), Peoria, Illinois. MPM scientists conduct interdisciplinary research in chemistry, microbiology, genetics, and plant biology to produce information and technologies needed to enhance food safety and crop production in the U.S. and around the world.

Responsibilities:

  • Conducts research focused on the epidemiology, ecology and management of ear rot and mycotoxin contamination of maize.
  • Determines how environmental variables, production practices, and diversity of mycotoxigenic fungi affect disease severity and mycotoxin contamination.
  • Develop epidemiological models to predict severity of mycotoxin contamination in maize.
  • Collaborates with other ARS, university, and private sector scientists to build a multi-disciplinary team necessary for this research.
  • Analyzes, interprets, and disseminates the findings in the form of reports, presentations, and publications in scientific journals.

For further information and complete application instructions, search for announcement

ARS-D21MWA-11098328-JML at https://www.usajobs.gov/
Direct Link: USAJOBS – Job Announcement

Videos of the Student and Postdoc Colloquium

Hello! This page has the videos of recorded MSA Student and Postdoc Colloquium!

Hope you enjoy them as much as we did and feel free to stop by our YouTube channel and subscribe for more!

Daisy Hernandez talks about Ganoderma spp. in California and Robert Blundell talks about the Discovery, identification and implementation of potential biological control agents for pruning wound protection against grapevine trunk diseases. January 2021
Jacob Steenwyck talks about When two become one: The hybrid origin of a filamentous fungal pathogen and Abigail Labella talks about Harnessing synonymous codon usage for reverse ecology in budding yeasts. February 2021
Sebastian Fajardo talks about the Impacts of Phytophthora pathogens on post-fire regeneration and restoration in Angeles National Forest and Lisa Rosenthal talks about how the Direction and drivers of the diversity-disease relationship are distinct across hierarchical levels. March 2021
Dr. Patricia Kaishian, co-founder of the International Congress of Armenian Mycologists, talks about Mycology as a Queer Discipline! 106th Remembrance Day of the Armenian Genocide, April 24th, 21.

Katherine Drotos talks about How an estimate of lichen ecosystem became “fact” and Kyle Gervers talk about how Crown closure affects endophytic leaf mycobiome compositional dynamics over time in Pseudotsuga menzieii var menziesii. June 2021

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.