Nominations for Student Section Executive Board 2017-2018

Nominations for Student Section Executive Board are here!

We are looking for dedicated, hard working and creative students and postdocs to become part of the Student Section Executive Board for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Participating in the Student Section Executive Board provides opportunities to gain leadership and communication skills, while helping shape the future direction of our student section. If this is something you’re interested in, we would like to hear from you!

You can find our current bylaws here, where you can review the descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of all student section representatives.

If you are interested in running for office for the MSA Student Section Executive Board, please email us (students.msa@gmail.com) a small blurb (500 words maximum) including the following information:

Introduction about yourself

Description of your interest in the position

Description of your research

Mention any previous experience on executive boards

Photo

The deadline to nominate yourself (or someone else!) to an executive board position is 3 weeks from today, Monday, April 3rd, 2017.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Your 2016-2017 Student Section Executive Board

March Student Spotlight 2017

 IMG_0261Virginia Poole grew up in a small Southern California beach town, but is local to Oakland, CA. She received her B.S. from UC Davis in Plant Biology. Virgie is currently working toward her Masters in Science at Middle Tennessee State University in the lab of Sarah Bergemann. Virgie is studying bioluminescence in Armillaria mellea. She is identifying and characterizing the genes that encode for bioluminescence by A. tumefaciens, mediated insertional mutagenesis, and conducting a bioluminescence inheritance study to provide data on phenotypic variation of luminescence intensities amongst haploid isolates of A. mellea in an F2 generation. Virgie is currently serving as the Webmaster for the MSA Student Section.

How did you become a mycologist?

I was actually on a deadset path to becoming a botanist, when I was introduced to Sarah Bergemann by a co-worker from Stones River National Battlefield.  I’d always been an amateur mushroom hunter and had taken an introductory mycology course at UC Davis with Dr. Rizzo (loved it), but had never really considered a graduate degree in it.  Within ten minutes of talking with Sarah, I could tell how exceptionally bright and knowledgeable about fungi she was, and knew that studying with her would be a phenomenal opportunity.  We’re still struggling with my writing skills (sorry Sarah), but her passion for fungi and the volume of knowledge she has already imparted to me will stay with me the rest of my life.  I’m hooked on fungi.

Who is your mycology role model?

Even before I started my program, I knew of Tom Volk as a major player in the species description game. I almost passed out when I saw him at the annual meeting in Berkeley. He’s so cool.

What is your favorite mushroom, and what do you like about it?

Am I obligated to say Armillaria mellea? Nah. A few months ago, I found a Cortinarius alboviolaceus on a foray in Big South Fork and fell in love with the color and sheen. Such a beautiful mushroom.

What is your favorite fact about fungi?

Fungal reproduction has always fascinated me from mating system types to spore production to zygospores to aeciospores, etc.. Maybe I just have a thing for spores in general?

Do you have any funny or interesting stories about field work or lab work?

I’m not out in the field as much as I would like, but I fruit A. mellea in vitro as part of my project in order to collect basidiospores. I normally autoclave the left over caps, but one day I was feeling a little adventurous. I normally detest the taste of mushrooms but let my curiosity get the best of me. and popped one in my mouth with an initial, “hey, this isn’t too bad.” Turns out A. mellea is best cooked. I had a lingering acrid/metallic taste in my mouth for about the next hour. You think I learned my lesson? Nope. I’ve done it at least three more times.

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

I’m a nature child, so I spend most of my free time hiking, biking, backpacking or adventuring. When I’m not in the lab or outside, I enjoy cooking and crocheting.

Virginia Poole is from Northern California. She received her B.S. from UC Davis in Plant Biology. Virgie is currently working toward her Masters in Science at Middle Tennessee State University in the lab of Sarah Bergemann. Virgie is studying bioluminescence in Armillaria mellea. She is identifying and characterizing the genes that encode for bioluminescence by A. tumefaciens, mediated insertional mutagenesis, and conducting a bioluminescence inheritance study to provide data on phenotypic variation of luminescence intensities amongst haploid isolates of A. mellea in an F2 generation. Virgie is currently serving as the Webmaster for the MSA Student Section.

How did you become a mycologist?

I was actually on a deadset path to becoming a botanist, when I was introduced to Sarah Bergemann by a co-worker from Stones River National Battlefield.  I’d always been an amateur mushroom hunter and had taken an introductory mycology course at UC Davis with Dr. Rizzo (loved it), but had never really considered a graduate degree in it.  Within ten minutes of talking with Sarah, I could tell how exceptionally bright and knowledgeable about fungi she was, and knew that studying with her would be a phenomenal opportunity.  We’re still struggling with my writing skills (sorry Sarah), but her passion for fungi and the volume of knowledge she has already imparted to me will stay with me the rest of my life.  I’m hooked on fungi.

Who is your mycology role model?

Even before I started my program, I knew of Tom Volk as a major player in the species description game. I almost passed out when I saw him at the annual meeting in Berkeley. He’s so cool.

What is your favorite mushroom, and what do you like about it?

Am I obligated to say Armillaria mellea? Nah. A few months ago, I found a Cortinarius alboviolaceus on a foray in Big South Fork and fell in love with the color and sheen. Such a beautiful mushroom.

What is your favorite fact about fungi?

Fungal reproduction has always fascinated me from mating system types to spore production to zygospore production to aeciospore production. Maybe I just have a thing for spores in general?

Do you have any funny or interesting stories about field work or lab work?

I’m not out in the field as much as I would like, but I fruit A. mellea in vitro as part of my project in order to collect basidiospores. I normally autoclave the left over caps, but one day I was feeling a little adventurous. I normally detest the taste of mushrooms but let my curiosity get the best of me. and popped one in my mouth with an initial, “hey, this isn’t too bad.” Turns out A. mellea is best cooked. I had a lingering acrid/metallic taste in my mouth for about the next hour. You think I learned my lesson? Nope. I’ve done it at least three more times.

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

I’m a nature child, so I spend most of my free time hiking, biking, backpacking or adventuring. When I’m not in the lab or outside, I enjoy cooking and crocheting.

 

loobyCaitlin Looby grew up in a small, rural town in New Jersey. She received her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a minors in Chemistry and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut. While an undergrad, Caitlin studied abroad in Costa Rica through the Council on International Educational Exchange. This was her introduction to fungi, tropics, and ecology.

Caitlin also participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) where we compared soil communities in the temperate rainforests in Washington State and tropical rainforests in Costa Rica. Afterwards, she worked as a lab tech in Dr. Bill Eaton’s lab at Kean University in Union, NJ. Kean University offered Caitlin a Graduate Assistantship to complete a Master’s in Biotechnology Science. For her thesis work, she investigated how an antifungal plant affected belowground communities, and nutrient cycling. Fieldwork for this project was conducted in the lowland forests of Costa Rica in the Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge.

Currently, Caitlin is a PhD Candidate in Kathleen Treseder’s lab at the University of California, Irvine. She is working in a cloud forest in Costa Rica to figure out how soil fungi and decomposition will respond to warmer and drier conditions. Caitlin uses a mountain as a natural climate change experiment. She moved soil from higher elevations that are cooler and wetter to lower elevations that are warmer and drier. Soils were kept in “microbial cages” that prevent fungi from passing through. This allowed her to see how soil fungi and decomposition might change under future climate conditions.

Caitlin was fortunate to receive external funding to help support her dissertation research. Her work was supported by an EPA Science to Achieve Results Fellowship (STAR), an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG), and Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellowships. Last year, she was also selected as a finalist to participate in the University of California Carbon Slam competition. She won third place for her poster.

How did you become a mycologist?

A circuitous path led me to fungi. I was not always interested in ecology, but after I studied abroad in Monteverde, Costa Rica I was fascinated. Microbial ecology was a way for me to combine my interest in microbiology, chemistry, and my new passion for the environment.

Ironically, when I studied abroad I did a research project on the pathogen Mycena citricolor, which infects coffee plants. This was my introduction to fungi. Once again, I found myself focusing on fungi during my Master’s work. At that point, I was delving into the literature and seeing how important fungi were. I was hooked, and needed to keep going.

Who is your mycology role model?

My mycological role model is Kathleen Treseder. She pushes the bar when it comes to asking ecological and evolutionary questions about fungi. Also, she stands for many things that are equally important to science. She actively strives to improve diversity in the sciences, and makes sure that everyone has a place and a voice.

What is your favorite fungus, and what do you like about it?

I do not want to say that a pathogenic fungus that causes devastating losses to the coffee industry, and affects many human lives is my favorite, but it gives me a sense of nostalgia. The plant pathogen Mycena citricolor was my introduction to the fungal world. And the fact that I am back in Monteverde, Costa Rica doing my dissertation on work on fungi is ironic. I had a somewhat circuitous path, but all roads led to fungi!

What is your favorite fact about fungi?

My favorite thing about fungi is that they can do almost anything. They are so important to ecosystems and fulfill many different roles. Studying fungi is also very exciting. There are so many new things that are constantly being unveiled about who they are and what they do. Also, understanding them will help us make better predications with the most pressing problem of our time—climate change.

Do you have any funny or interesting stories about field work?

To say I have some stories is an understatement. I had monkeys attack me (on at least four occasions), a caiman chase me, and watched the biggest cicada I have ever seen knock over my lab mate and mess up our LICOR readings.

But, the time I was swarmed by killer bees is definitely the most memorable. We hiked up to the top of the mountain in Monteverde. You could see them on the ground, and we knew we had to walk far away and very quickly. However, the vibrations that our steps created were enough. I was stung about 150 times.

Fortunately, there was a building at the top of this mountain. A man was inside and heard us yelling. He let us come inside, and then pulled every single bee sting out of us. A few hours later, we began the three-hour hike back down the mountain.

Ironically, this site became the focal point for my dissertation research. And it always makes the hike back down the mountain seem not so bad anymore.

You have an interest in science communication. What aspects of writing science for the public do you particularly enjoy? Are there aspects you find difficult? Do you have any advice for other students who are also interested in science communication?

I am extremely passionate about science communication, and I am actively trying to improve my skills and reach broader audiences. Currently, I write scripts for the Loh Down on Science radio program where listeners get a daily dose of science in less than two minutes. I also report on environmental news as an intern at mongabay.com. In addition, I wrote feature articles for Association for Women in Science, Cultures, and Canoe and Kayak Magazines.

For me, science writing is not only a responsibility, but also something that is fun. I enjoy learning new topics, and connecting with audiences. It is common to use analogies, and trying to find those connections between science and things that people are already familiar with is a puzzle. Fitting those puzzle pieces together is a fun challenge. And ultimately, that moment when you connect, teach someone something new, or make them appreciate a topic is extremely satisfying.

Moreover, as a scientist, I know how hard we work to make one study happen. I want to help other scientists get their work out there and appreciated.

Science communication definitely has its challenges as well. Learning to write for public is like learning a new language. You need to be very aware of your word choice. As scientists we are used to focusing on just the facts. With science communication, you have to focus on the facts and provoke the imagination.

For any students interested in science communication, the best thing you can do is practice. This is not a craft you can perfect overnight, especially because what the public needs and their perception of science is constantly changing.

Moreover, it is important to know your audience. A broader audience that is interested in science and reads about science in their free time is different that one that is not naturally interested. It is important to realize that you need to connect with these audiences differently.

It is really important to do your research. Read articles and watch presentations to see how science can be communicated successfully. Most importantly, write pieces that you would want to read in your free time, and give presentations that would make you excited.

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

I try to lead an active lifestyle. In my free time, I run, workout, camp, hike, and standup paddleboard. Living in Southern California is a great impetus to try a lot of new things that I had never done before. One of my favorite things to do is to paddle to an offshore kelp forest and go snorkel! Activities like this help me stay connected to the outdoors and keep me inspired. It is a reminder of why I became a scientist.

MSA International Travel Awards

The Mycological Society of America has announced a competition for four international travel awards ($500 each) to be awarded to MSA graduate students or post-doctoral fellows for travel to attend the IX Latin American Mycological Congress in Lima, Peru from August 22-25, 2017.

To apply for this award, please visit MSA International Awards and follow the procedures for the application. The application deadline is April 10th, 2017.

Postdoctoral Position in Mycorrhizal Ecology and Hawaiian Tropical Forest Restoration

The Hynson Lab at the University of Hawaii Manoa is now accepting applications for a postdoc position focused on mycorrhizal ecology and forest restoration. The recruit will work with an interdisciplinary team of ecologists on a recently funded NSF study aimed at assessing ecological feedbacks across trophic levels, their effects on alternative stable states and restoration of tropical forests. The goals of this project are: 1) advance our understanding of alternative stable state theory as it applies to restoration, 2) evaluate how ecosystem condition is affected by priority effects, multiple potential feedbacks and the presence/loss of key species, and 3) determine whether all potential feedbacks must be addressed simultaneously, or whether manipulation of individual state variables can drive change. Collaborators include Dr. Stephanie Yelenik and Dr. Eben Paxton from USGS Hawaii, Dr. Carla D’Antonio from UC Santa Barbara and Dr. Erin Mordecai from Stanford University. Our lab is specifically interested in the role of arbuscular and ericoid mycorrhizal fungi in abetting native plant establishment and the feedbacks between vegetation type, soil environment, and mycorrhizal fungi.

Applicants should have, or be close to receiving, a PhD in one of the following areas: fungal biology and ecology, molecular ecology, and/or plant ecology. Applicants with experience working with arbuscular and/or ericoid mycorrhizal fungi will be given high priority. Additional minimum qualifications include: a minimum of one peer-reviewed publication in a related field, willingness to perform field work at the Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge on Hawaii Island, effective written and oral communication skills, ability to work well independently as well as part of a team, and relevant laboratory skills including experience with molecular techniques. Desired qualifications include experience with next generation sequencing data collection and analysis, ecological experimental design, modeling and statistics such as network analyses, greenhouse and culturing experience, and involvement in mentoring undergraduate and/or graduate students.

The postdoc will be expected to carry out a portion of the work outlined in our grant, but will also have the option of developing studies within his/her specific area of interest as they relate to mycorrhizal ecology. Pay is commensurate with experience, start date is somewhat flexible, and appointment is for one year with the possibility to extend for an additional year provided acceptable progress. Interested parties should email the following to Nicole Hynson

·      A brief coverletter outlining how you meet the minimum, and any of the desired qualifications.

·      A Current CV with a list of 3 references and their contact info.

Review of applications will begin on February 27th, but the position will remain open until filled. For more information on the Hynson Lab and the University of Hawaii see hynsonlab.com

The University of Hawaiʻi is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution and is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of race, sex, gender identity and expression, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, disability, genetic information, marital status, breastfeeding, income assignment for child support, arrest and court record (except as permissible under State law), sexual orientation, domestic or sexual violence victim status, national guard absence, or status as a covered veteran.

Mycological Resources

Educational and Entertaining Mycological Blogs and Websites: 

– Lawrence Millman – mycologist and writer. Author of the first book dedicated solely to New England fungi, Fascinating Fungi of New England. Check out his website here.

– The Cornell Mushroom Blog, run by Kathie Hodge, is filled with entertaining and educational posts about fungi. Check it out!

Foreign Names of Mushrooms – is a list of mushrooms found in the US as well as their scientific names and common names in a variety of European and Asian languages.

– Interested in fungi growing on wood? Check out this awesome website.

– Is your mycological journey just beginning? Check out mushroomexpert.com and mushroom-collecting.com for an informative set of guidelines on trees, microscopy, collecting, and more!

–  Mushroom Observer – pictures, lists and finds from all around the world.

– Use Mycokey and RogersMushrooms  for all of your fungus identification and information needs.

Virtual Mycology – Was last updated in 2005, however it still contains a lot of helpful information.

Tom Volk’s Fungi

– Steve Axford – Fungi, the recyclers

– Anything and everything you need to know about mycorrhiza.

– Interested in plant-microbe symbioses? Check out this Scoop It webpage.

 

Amateur/Professional Mycological Clubs and Societies: 

The British Mycological Society 

Central PA Mushroom Club

Cape Cod Mushroom Club

North American Mycological Association (NAMA) and a complete list of affiliates.

New England Botanical Club (NEBC) 

Torino, Italy Mycological Club 

University of Minnesota Mycology Club 

Boston Mycological Club

 

Myco-shops:

Death Cap mushrooms earrings

Lots of lichen and mushroom-themed gifts

MSA Skill Share

The MSA Student Section Executive Board is proud to announce a new tool to enable networking and consolidate skills. With your input, the Student Section is building a Mycology Skill Share database. By filling out this simple 10-minute survey, your answers will be entered into a database of information about each student, their lab, and the knowledge and technical expertise in that lab. You can update your skills at any time by accessing the link on the Student Section website.


The Mycology Skill Share database will enable students beginning new projects or learning new techniques to easily contact fellow students and mycologists in specific areas for guidance and/or potential collaboration. We look forward to building this new resource with you, and hearing about the new student symbioses that come of it!

Fill out the Skill Share survey here!

#IAmAMycologist

chrissmyth

We would like to invite you to join our #IAmAMycologist photo contest.  The goal is to promote the diversity of research by our members. Here are the rules: Share a photo of yourself in the field or lab, or a photo of your organism (if you’re not feeling photo-genic) with a caption summarizing your research. Tag it with #IAmAMycologist on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Make sure the post is viewable to the public so we can find your photos. Check out the great shot from our own Chris Smyth!  Students, post-docs, technicians, and faculty are all eligible to participate, the only requirement is that you research fungi! We’ll check for new photos each Thursday until the meeting in Athens (July 16-19th). At the Student Section meeting in Athens, the Student Section Executive Board will vote on the photos, the best two photos will receive some sweet MSA Swag. The top twelve photos will be put together into a MSA Student Section Calendar (we will contact members to obtain high resolution versions of images before we print the calendar).

Student Spotlight February 2017

February 2017

We would like to introduce you to two up-and-coming mycologists who are working hard to advance their field:

Klara Scharnagl is a PhD candidate in the Plant Biology Department at Michigan State University. She grew up in Miami, Florida. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in 2010, and her Master’s degree from Florida International University in 2013. Klara’s master’s thesis is titled “The effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on four legume hosts in south Florida pine rockland soils.” Her current research is studying the role of symbiosis as a biotic interaction in driving patterns of biodiversity along a latitudinal gradient, using lichens as my study system. She is comparing a field sampling approach to an herbarium record approach using the Consortium of North American Lichen Herbaria (CNALH) and GBIF online databases to determine gradients of fungal diversity. She has visited 8-10 lowland forest sites in the Americas, and sampled epiphytic lichen diversity on 100 trees at each site. Further, she will select a sub-group of lichens from the field samples to sequence both the fungal and algal partners in order to determine (a) cryptic species diversity, (b) specificity of the fungal-algal association along a latitudinal gradient, and (c) to reconstruct phylogenies to search for latitudinal signatures in diversification events.

How did you become a mycologist?

Ever since I was six years old, on a family camping in North Carolina Smoky Mountains, I have been fascinated by fungi. But it took a lichen internship at the Field Museum in Chicago during my undergrad to decide that I would pursue mycology as a career.

Who is your mycology role model?

Anne Pringle is my role model because she is not afraid to ask and investigate the interesting questions. Her lab has done research across a broad array of fungi and have taken approaches from citizen science to physics.

What is your favorite mushroom, and what do you like about it?

Chlorociboria aeruginascens, because it reminds me of family camping trips in North Carolina, and because it makes that beautiful green-blue stain on the wood it grows on.

What is your favorite lichen, and what do you like about it?

I have many favorites. But one that I like is the fruticose soil lichen, Stereocaulon. It looks like a miniature white shrub on the ground, and many of them have the unique biology of containing both green algal and cyanobacterial symbionts. It is also intriguing to me because it has a lot of cryptic diversity and is in major need of revision. Future project, perhaps?

What is your favorite thing/fact about lichens?

Again, there are so many fascinating things about lichens. The symbiosis itself is one thing I hope to delve deeper into in my research. But one thing I think is really cool is the ability of lichens to live practically everywhere, from the tideline to the tops of mountains, from deserts to lush rainforests, from grasslands in the Western US to interior Antarctica. Interestingly, one of the few places lichens Cannot live is a really polluted city. Talk about great bioindicators!

Do you have any funny or interesting stories about field work?

I cannot tell you how many times I have picked up or even collected poop in the field, thinking that it might be some interesting type of fungus or lichen. Studying lichens means a fair bit of time standing still staring at a tree. This can give you blinders to the world around you, until your focus shifts a bit, and you realize that, in addition to the lichens, you are staring right at a lizard, a large spider, or even a tree viper! Luckily they were just as stunned by the lichenologist as the lichenologist was by them.

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

I love talking about lichens, running workshops on lichens, and making “Lichen Buddies” for kids. In addition to this, I love hiking, running, kayaking, baking and writing poetry. When I have the time, of course!


dsc_9742Jillian Myers
is a PhD candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. She received her Bachelor’s degree, with an Honors Thesis, Synergistic inhibition of the lethal fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis: The combined effects of symbiotic bacterial metabolites and antimicrobial peptides of the frog Rana muscosa, from James Madison University in 2011. Currently her research interests are ‘all things mycoviral’. As a NSF Graduate Research Fellow studying in the lab of Timothy James, Jill is digging into some basic questions: How common are mycoviruses throughout the fungal kingdom (with particular focus on Chytridiomycota, Blastocladiomycota, and Zygomycota. These groups have been almost entirely disregarded in the mycoviral literature.)? What are the origins of mycoviruses? How do mycoviruses alter the phenotypes of their host fungi?

How did you become a mycologist?

I’m still working on “becoming a mycologist”. However, I started studying fungi when a professor at my undergraduate institution reached out to me, asking if I’d like to work in his lab. At the time I was not yet a matriculated student, and still not totally convinced I wanted to get a Bachelor’s degree. ‘d recently finished an Associates and was “dipping my toe” into higher education by taking one course at a University. I didn’t know undergrads could even do research, but when Professor Reid Harris presented the opportunity to study the frog-killing chytrid, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, I knew I wanted in. By reaching out to me, Dr. Harris changed my life, starting me along a trajectory I hadn’t known existed! I think about this a lot. That being said, it wasn’t until joining Tim James’ lab that the big, beautiful world of mycology opened up and I realized I don’t just want to be a scientist or a researcher, but a mycologist!

Who is your mycology role model?

At UMich, we’re surrounded by the legacy of Alexander Smith, and I’m completely amazed by his prolific contributions. I also love hearing stories about his commitment to public engagement- he’s an even bigger man in my mind because of that.

What is your favorite mushroom, and what do you like about it?

I’m really into Chlorociboria right now. I can’t get enough of that color!

What is your favorite characteristic of fungi?

I love that fungi seem to break all the rules. That’s another reason I love fungal viruses, too. Viruses are “supposed” to cause disease, they’re “supposed” to kill their hosts- but not in fungi! Not only does this rule-breaking appeal to my inner teenager, but I think it’s impetus for real scientific progress.

Do you have any interesting stories about field work?

I did field work in the Sierra Nevada range this past summer. At the San Francisco Airport, I was chatting with the agent who was helping me get my rental car to take with me into the field. I told him I was going to the mountains to do some science and backpacking. He stopped typing, turned to look me in the eyes, and said quietly, “Backpacking changed my life.” He told me his life tale of heading down a bad path as a teenager before he was sent away to a wilderness school, which set him right. “And look at me now!” he said, proudly. As he finished my paperwork, he complimented my very long dreadlocks, told me he was going to give me an upgrade, and said, “I’ve got just the thing for you.” The brand-new Volkswagen Beetle (turbo!) he hooked me up with was far from the ideal field vehicle for mountain terrain, but bonding with a stranger over his transformative experience in nature was priceless!

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

I spend most of my free time with my hound dog, Mouse. We do a lot of canoeing together when the Michigan winter isn’t happening. I also enjoy getting crafty with paper or fabric, and enjoying fermented beverages with pals.

 

Thank you to everyone for their submissions!