2019-2020 Elections

Learn more about who is running and vote for new members here

 

Chair:

Rebecca Shay

PhD Candidate, Michigan State University

Rebecca Shay

Hello! My name is Rebecca Shay, and I’m a grad student at Michigan State University. I work in the Trail lab on Fusarium graminearum-host interactions, specifically the defense response to F. graminearum in barley trichomes. This will be my third year on the MSA Student Section board, moving from Communication Chair to Vice-Chair, and then to Chair. I look forward to helping keep the Student Section active in the society and doing many things that benefit our members and the greater science community. I love the opportunities the Student Section provides for graduate students and postdocs to get involved in the mycology community. Outside of MSA, I’m an Outreach Committee co-chair for the Mid-Michigan chapter of Graduate Women in Science, and helping to plan the GWIS National Conference this next year, as well as being on the planning committee of the A.H. Smith Lake States Mycological Foray. I look forward to serving the Student Section this upcoming year!

 

Vice Chair:

Robert Powers

PhD Candidate, University of Michigan

Robert Powers

I am a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan working in Tim James’ lab. My research is primarily focused on understanding the genetic, epigenetic and gene regulatory mechanisms during mating and heterokaryosis in the mushroom-forming members of the Agaricomycotina. Prior to my PhD studies, I received my Master’s degree from the University of Michigan, also in Tim James’ lab, studying both sexual selection and biogeography in the Coprinellus disseminatus species complex.  My passion for mycology bloomed later in life – my undergraduate training was in computer science and ethnomusicology. I worked for ten years in the information technology sector in San Francisco before deciding that my true calling was mycology. I served the last year as secretary of the MSA Student Section, and am running for Vice-Chair because the Society and the Student Section were instrumental in helping me transition into mycology, and I would like to help bring my enthusiasm and passion for fungi to other students as well. My previous experience on an executive board was as a member of the Tech-Underground technology co-operative, a group that provides technology services to non-profit, community, and arts groups – a co-operative of which I was also a founding member.  

 

Secretary:

Sara Getson

Master’s student, Michigan State University

Sara Getson

My name is Sara Getson and I am currently a master’s student at Michigan State University in plant pathology. Growing up in an Eastern European household, I went out hunting mushrooms with my dad ever since I was a kid. Then, in college, my love for mushrooms really blossomed as I minored in plant pathology and mushroom science and technology at Penn State and worked on research projects under five different professors there. Now in my graduate work, I have the privilege of continuing my mycology work as I focus on the identification of Fusarium species in asparagus, ginseng, and celery through genetic and morphological characteristics. Along with my research, I have had the opportunity to help with, lead, and present at many mycologically oriented activities and workshops at Penn State, Michigan State, and in the wider communities. Some include lecturing for the Midwest Mycology Information (MAMI) mushroom expert certification workshop for the state of Michigan, running hands-on mushroom identification activities for a Girl Scout troop in Pennsylvania, as well as the Graduate Women in Science ‘Girls in Math and Science day’.

Previously, at Penn State, I served as secretary for both the Blooms and Shrooms plant pathology club and for the ballroom dance club, as well as the webmaster for the campus Newman club. Because of these opportunities, I have gained valuable experience in and understanding of this type of position and given my passion for fungi, I would be honored at the opportunity to serve as the MSA student section secretary for the 2019-2020 year.

 

Post-doctoral Representative:

Lotus Lofgren

PhD/postdoc, University of Minnesota

Lotus Lofgren

I’m a finishing PhD student (Defending May 15th) in University of Minnesota’s Dep. of Plant and Microbial Biology, working with Dr. Peter Kennedy on mechanistic fungal ecology, genomics and bioinformatics. I’m a founding member of Fungal Garden, a living laboratory, gourmet mushroom farm and outreach initiative, housed on the U of MNs St. Paul campus since 2011. I just stepped down from the leadership board of Mycology Club at the University of Minnesota, where I have served since 2014 as secretary (1 year), outreach coordinator (1 year) vice president (2 years), and president (1 year). The club hosts numerous science outreach events, as well as public forays, mushroom ID classes and cultivation workshops, hosts speakers and organizes a mycology journal club. I’m interested in serving as a post-doctoral representative on the MSA student board to help as needed, gain experience on national leadership panels, and advocate for the inclusion of issues and perspectives relevant to post doctoral scholars.

 

Merchandise Chair:

Savannah Gentry

Phd, University of Wisconsin

Savannah Gentry

Hi, I’m Savannah Gentry and currently in the Botany PhD program at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. A part of the Pringle Lab, I work on fungal pathogen-host interactions and pathogen ecology, namely with Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola and Nannizziopsis guarroi responsible for snake fungal disease and yellow fungal disease, respectively. Outside of research I co-founded and am currently co-president of a graduate support organization for underrepresented graduate students in STEM named Community. Our goal in Community is to provide resources i.e. financial, professional, and cultural, for graduate students of the university. I’m currently the Merchandise Chair for the MSA student section board and have enjoyed working with fellow board members, MSA executive board members, and the MSA community to share in the wonderfulness that is fungi. This will be my second year and I hope to remain the Merchandise Chair, coming in with even more effectiveness and know-how than before, to help the Student Section grow.

 

Webmaster:

 

  • Chance Noffsinger

 

Graduate Student, Montana State University

Chance Noffsinger

Hello, my name is Chance Noffsinger, and I’m a Master’s student at Montana State University working under Dr. Cathy Cripps. My research focuses on understanding the diversity and distribution of Russula in the Rocky Mountain Alpine zone. I’m running for the Executive board of the MSA student section because I want to build a career focused on mycological research and education and the Mycological Society of America has been an integral part of my growth as a scientist. I want to continue to provide other students with the inspiration and resources that the MSA students section continues to provide me. Specifically, I’m running for Communication Chair because I believe scientific communication and outreach are crucial to the future of science, especially now when the public’s mistrust of science is uncomfortably high. I would be responsible for managing the social media accounts of the MSA student section and I believe that social media plays an important role in scientific communication in positive and negative ways. Therefore, if elected, I will make it my duty to communicate positive, useful, and informative information to our mycological community. I would also look forward to contributing articles to Inoculum and featuring our diverse community of students on our website. As an undergraduate, I represented my local honor society on the College of Agriculture student council and was responsible for communicating between the two organizations and advocating for student interests. As a graduate student, I’m involved in teaching and scientific outreach focused on mycology to undergraduate and K-12 students.

 

  • María-José Romero-Jiménez

 

Graduate Student, Western Illinois University

María-José Romero-Jiménez

Hello, my name is María-José Romero-Jiménez and I am a graduate student at Western Illinois University. I do research at Dr. Andrea Porras-Alfaro Fungal Ecology laboratory on the description of Darksidea species and the effect they have on grasses. My first MSA meeting was in 2017. The conference was a beautiful experience where I met new people that were passionate about fungi. Since then, I have been interested in getting a little bit more involved with the mycology community and sharing it with everyone. Because of this I am interested in the Communication Chair position at the Student Section. I think that the position will allow me to meet and work with exciting people I don’t know and learn new things. I believe that it will push me out of my comfort zone and it will allow me to share with many others why fungi and mycologists are awesome. At WIU I am the vice-president of the Biology Graduate Student Association and we participate in several outreach activities like Biology Day, Discover Western and Girl Scout STEM. If we are aware of a conference, we send emails with deadlines for registrations and abstract submission. As a member of the Fungal Ecology Lab, I co-coordinated the botany section of Harry Potter Summer Camp and helped in other outreach activities. One of the things I like is sharing with everyone our work and the outreach activities we do either on the Facebook page of the lab.

 

Treasurer:

 

  • Austin N. Frewert

 

Graduate Student, Washington State University

Austin N. Frewert

My name is Austin Frewert and I am from upstate New York and there are three interests that have always been in my life… fungi, plants and mountain biking!  I am studying soil-microbe interactions in the Cheeke Lab at Washington State University Tri-Cities in Richland, WA. My master’s research is focused on synergistic plant responses to co-amendments of mycorrhizal fungi and biochar when grown in contaminated mine soil. I am also interested in the ecological aspects of mycorrhizal helper bacteria, bacterial and fungal siderophores, and the affect of our changing environment on belowground interactions. I am running for treasurer to contribute to the MSA community and to encourage interest and involvement in mycology. I think it is important to be involved the community, to encourage your peers and support them as they grow. I currently volunteer at my local bicycle repair co-op where I can share what I know as well as learn something new. I am eager to share my passion for mycology by contributing to the community through Inoculum as well as social media outlets, while broadening my volunteer experience. Thank you, I look forward to meeting you at MSA 2019.

 

Communication Chair:

 

  • Tania Kurbessoian

 

Graduate Student, University of California Riverside

Tania Kurbessoian

My previous experience in school or organization affiliated volunteering has been occurring for the past 8 years. As an undergraduate and Masters student at Cal State Northridge I’ve worked with the local chapter of ASM (on my campus was called MSA too, Microbiology Students Association) as the Secretary, Treasurer then President for 4 years (2012-2016). I’ve organized, planned and executed many microbiology related events (Beer Brewing, Wine Making, Networking, CLS). For the past 5 years I have also been involved with my local mycological organization (Los Angeles Mycological Society- LAMS), setting up events at the OC Fair and the Natural History Museums to better engage with everyday folk and to get them interested in fungi! Coming to UC Riverside I began involving myself in the local Micro-GSA (Graduate Student Association) as an outreach coordinator, Vice President and now President. I was the Social Outreach coordinator at another organization called AWIS (Association for Women in Science), and am now the Co-President. AWIS fosters stronger bonds for women in all parts of science, connecting them to proper mentors who can take them to the right places, and just being an overall support system for women in science. I believe organizations like these and the MSA Student Section only helps enrich the experience of being an early scientist and helps garner other skills that may not be available as just a student. Currently I am in the Stajich lab, studying the role of melanized fungi in biological crust systems through Microbiology, Computational Biology and Mycological techniques. Follow me on @BlackYeastUnleashed on Instagram and @BYUnleashed on Twitter for updates!

 

  • Megan Buland

 

Graduate Student, University of Georgia

Megan Buland

Hi, my name is Megan and I am a graduate student in the Warnell School of Forestry at the University of Georgia, where I study root-feeding beetles and their associated phoretic fungal communities under the direction of Dr. Caterina Villari.  I would be honored to serve as the MSA Student Communication Chair in the upcoming year. I have served as a core officer with Warnell’s graduate student association in the past, as well as serving on committees in association with the American Phytopathological Society.  I am active in social media, including Twitter (you can find me @MeganLou89), and would be prepared to assume such responsibilities as are associated with the Communication Chair position. Additionally, I am a contributing author at the Athens Science Observer where I greatly enjoy writing about the natural world around us, and would greatly appreciate the opportunity to represent the MSA Student Section in Inoculum.  I am passionate about fungi and would value the opportunity to work more closely with the MSA, and specifically the graduate student community, in the upcoming year. I hope you will consider voting for me as your Student Communications Chair and look forward to seeing you all in Minnesota!

 

November and December Student Spotlight

November student spotlight:

img_5308 - heather slinn

Heather Slinn is a PhD candidate at the University of Guelph and originally from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She is currently working in the labs of Drs. Jonathan Newman and Lee Dyer. Her current project focuses on understanding the natural history of the interactions between plants and their seed dispersers which are critical for terrestrial communities. Seed dispersers can have profound impacts on plant fitness and plant community composition by transporting seeds away from parent plants to maximize offspring success or providing the necessary conditions to trigger germination through scarification. However, it is not known how passage through dispersers’ guts affect seed fungal communities. Ecological filters that alter fungal community assemblages can affect plant fitness by providing chemical defense against antagonists and increasing germination. For instance, chemically mediated mutualistic interactions, where fungi and associated defensive compounds are passed from parent to offspring through the seed coat, have been well documented in temperate systems (e.g., this occurs in cool season grasses). In the tropics, much less is understood about these interactions. Heather’s research seeks to identify changes to the seed fungal community of Piper sancti-felicis (Piperaceae) after passage through bat guts. Piper is the same plant genus that the common spice, black pepper comes from. Her research evaluates the antifungal properties of an important class of secondary metabolites (alkenylphenols). This is extracted from fruit to assess whether is acts as a filter for fungal colonization prior to dispersal.

 

When she finishes her PhD, Heather would like to continue her work as a postdoc investigating fungal mediated interactions in Piper. She is hoping to graduate in 2 years.

 

What is your favorite fungus and why?

 

Cordyceps because it is awesome at infecting the brains of arthropods and manipulating behavior.

 

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

 

Fungi make an extraordinary diversity of secondary metabolites that play all sorts of important ecological functions, but also serve critical roles in pharmacy (e.g. taxol) and other biotechnology. We understand such a small percentage of this diversity, there is huge application potential.

 

Who is your mycology role model?

 

I don’t have a single role model, but there are many women that I admire. Posy Busby at Oregon State, Betsy Arnold at the University of Arizona and Sue Hartley at York University in the UK. I met Sue at ESA a couple of years ago when I was giving a poster presentation on plant-insect interactions. She asked me what I was thinking about doing next, and I told her about my new work on fungi in Piper. Her eyes lit up in excitement and I looked down at her name tag and I got really excited because I hadn’t recognized her.

 

Any great stories from field work?

 

I nearly set La Selva Biological Station on fire once. Faulty drying oven. I’m still not sure who put that fire out. There is no alarm system. I also found a juvenile Terciopelo in my room. They are one of the most venomous vipers in Latin America. I repeated that story to tourists at the station. They looked terrified.

 

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

 

Running, biking, reading, working on my Spanish, joking around as much as possible and drinking wine (Malbec is my favorite).

 

What are you passionate about?

 

I am passionate about promoting and supporting minorities in STEM. If you’d like to follow me for this, my handle is @h_slinn.

 

 

 

 

December student spotlight:

img_1048 - jacob golan

Jacob Golan is a PhD candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, originally from Long Island, NY. He is currently working in the lab of Dr. Anne Pringle, where his research focuses on how fungi move – from across landscapes to across continents. He approaches questions regarding dispersal from a biophysical, genetic, genomic, and ecological perspective in order to better understand fungal biogeography and population dynamics. He is also interested in the intersection of microbial biology and intellectual property rights. During his time as a graduate student, Jacob has received several awards, including the NSF GRFP and the Chateaubriand Fellowship in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics & Biology-Health (STEM). After completing his PhD, Jacob would like to go to law school and eventually work in legal academia on the intersection of microbial biotechnology and intellectual property rights

 

What is your favorite fungus and why?

 

Hemileia vastatrix is one of the coolest! Putative transoceanic dispersal + coffee = amazing!

 

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

 

Supposedly fungi won the American revolution…according to some, the British fleet was overrun by Serpula lacrymans

 

Who is your mycology role model?

 

Tie between Rytas Vilgalys and Anne Pringle

 

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

 

If editing manuscripts counts as field work, then I enjoyed editing my first chapter with my advisor in the bathroom of a former post-doc’s house. We needed a quiet space and we were down to the last minute.

 

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

 

I really like to read and to learn languages. Russian literature is by far my favorite

 

What are you passionate about?

 

I love working with undergraduates – it’s a great way to get extra help with your research and also to practice your teaching skills

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nominations for MSA Board 2017-2018

Vice-Chair: Kristi Gdanetz MacCready

MACREADY

Hello, I’m Kristi Gdanetz MacCready and I would like to run for the Vice-Chair of the MSA Student Section. I am working on my PhD at Michigan State University in the lab of Frances Trail. Most of my thesis research has focused on the fungal microbiome of a wheat-corn-soybean rotation. I’m using fungal endophytes in wheat to protect against disease, and have some side projects involving Fusarium graminearum secondary metabolites. I am interested in the SS Vice-Chair position because I love the community and resources the MSA provides to the student members, and I want to ensure that we continue to serve our students in the best way possible. I served as the MSA SS Communication Chair for the past year, I worked on developing member engagement through social media and highlighted our awesome members through student spotlights. Along with other members of the current SS Executive Board, I helped initiate the formation of what we hope to be a public resource for mycological outreach and teaching. As Vice-Chair, I would be able to continue working with the Chair and Past-Chair to bring this project to completion. Outside of MSA, I served as Vice President and President as a student ambassador organization during my undergraduate studies at Penn State Erie. I am familiar with, and actually enjoy, the organizational tasks and duties of group leadership.

 

Secretary: Andrea Bruce

I am a master’s student at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.  My research seeks to BRUCE 2find synergistic effects between fungi with different decay strategies when co-inoculated in diesel-contaminated soil.  I aim to find out whether fungi that degrade different fractions of wood can cooperate to degrade different fractions of diesel fuel to increase mycoremediation of soil.  My background is in Environmental Studies, and my research interests are driven by a search for solutions to problems that lie at the interface between environmental sustainability and social justice.  A component of this drive is an interest in community organizing, enabling groups to achieve greater access to resources to accomplish their goals than individuals alone are able to reach independently.  In alignment with this interest, I would like to serve as secretary on the MSA Student Section’s Board.  I enjoy helping to provide a supportive community for other mycology students, bolstering our ability to hear and be heard by our broader academic cohort, and more easily learn about resources and events available to us.  I have served one year as the MSA Student Section secretary, and I currently serve as the president of the UW-L Mycology Club, after serving the club for two years as its vice president.

 

Treasurer: Brendan O’Brien

I discovered my passion for fungi as an undergraduate student in the old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest.  In a landscape so dominated by impenetrable green, I found inspiration in the diversity of exotic form and vibrant color presented by these mysterious organisms.  As an amateur forager, I became empowered and delighted by the experience of procuring delicious culinary treasures to share with friends and family.  With each new species identified and sampled, a network of questions arose regarding the unique ecology and potential usefulness of the individual.  Seeking further information consistently revealed the gaps in our collective knowledge, while also reaffirming the great importance of this vast kingdom.  As my mycophilia matured while my mind fully colonized, I found myself no longer motivated purely by my stomach, but instead by the endless ways fungi impact our lives and ecosystems everyday.  I have carried this inspiration through miniature careers as a Climate Change Analyst and Biological Consultant.  These professional experiences have instilled a sense of urgency toward developing creative solutions to the natural resource challenges facing society today. As a graduate student at the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Natural Resources, I am working with Dr. Eric Roy in the Ecological Engineering Lab to integrate fungi into waste resource solutions.  I am researching ways to incorporate fungi into organics recycling as a strategy for nutrient recovery.  I am interested in many developing and yet undiscovered ways fungi may be applied to facilitate a more sustainable future. As the current student treasurer of the MSA, I have enjoyed building my professional network with a new generation of mycologists while serving the community in a meaningful way.  As the owner-operator of Hyphae Consulting Inc., a small biological consulting firm, I have strong organizational and financial record keeping skills necessary to succeed in this position.  I look forward to an opportunity to continue serving this inspiring network of new mycologists.

 

Communication Chair: Rebecca Shay

Hello! My name is Rebecca Shay, and I’m a budding mycologist from Michigan State SHAYUniversity. I joined the Trail lab this past fall, and I work on Fusarium graminearum-host interactions, specifically the defense response to F. graminearum in barley trichomes. Previously, I was a bacteriologist, so I’m new to this fungal world! I would like to run for the position of Communication Chair, so I can share my excitement about mycology with as many people as possible! I hope to get involved with the MSA student section to meet other mycology students, and help promote the organization and the student section to other mycologists I meet. In the past, I have been outreach chair for the Undergraduate Genetics Association at University of Wisconsin-Madison, president of the same organization, and co-founder of the Plant Pathology Undergraduate Club. I’m also recently elected as Outreach/Communication Chair for the Mid-Michigan chapter of Graduate Women In Science, where I’ll serve for the 2017-2018 year. Through these outreach experiences I’ve learned how to communicate science to general audiences, and I think I could apply these skills to the Communication Chair position for the student section. I hope to bring my newfound excitement about mycology to the student section and beyond!

 

Merchandise Chair: Nora Dunkirk

Every time I go outside, I immediately turn my eyes to the ground. People probably think DUNKIRKI’m crazy, but I’m just looking for mushrooms! I’m a first year graduate student at UW Madison studying in Anne Pringle’s lab and I have the privilege of studying the ecology and evolution of mushroom forming fungi every day. My current project is studying a genus of fungi, Amanita, which includes both saprotrophic (plant degrading) and ectomycorrhizal (plant partner) fungi. I am dissecting the genomes of these fungi to determine the genes which are characteristic of each of these distinct (or so we think) ecologies. Part of this research is finding these mushrooms in their natural environments, which means I get to go hiking in the woods hunting for mushrooms and get my hands dirty regularly! One of my favorite things about studying fungi is being able to teach others the amazing things I learn about these crazy organisms. I think being part of the student executive board is a great way to reach more people interested in studying fungi and fungal ecology. When I first went to an MSA conference, the Student Section welcomed me even though I wasn’t a student at the time! I want to give back to that community by volunteering my time on the executive board as the merchandise chair. I have experience ordering tshirts and stickers for my previous lab, and I now have a few months’ experience in the merchandise chair position with the student section that have been very informative. If re-elected, I will dedicate time and effort towards supplying fun and enticing merchandise to raise money for this awesome student section of MSA!

Request For Outreach

Dear MSA Members,

While skepticism over scientific findings has long been present in the United States, the current political climate has emboldened a rise in anti-science rhetoric and action. We believe it is the responsibility of scientific societies like the MSA to respond by increasing public outreach and engagement through scientific education and discussion. New avenues for mycological education may offer opportunities to inform our youth and other members of our communities of an underrepresented scientific discipline, while empowering them with the tools to think critically and form decisions based on evidence.

The MSA Student Section is spearheading the creation of an outreach database centered around open-access mycological education materials, tools and resources. Our goal is to make this database easily accessible on the MSA website for application in a wide range of outreach activities.

We are requesting the following materials/resources/topics:

  • Fungi in K-12 Education; anything that ties in fungi and core concepts in biology that can be taught at a grade school level.
  • Hands-on fungal activities ideal for after-school programs, camps, etc.
  • Mycological powerpoints, lesson plans, and other materials appropriate for college classrooms.
  • Fungal pictures, animations, and videos that can be distributed freely.
  • Informational documents on any topics in mycology. These should be written for a general audience, such as an amateur mycological society.

All material uploaded to our online database will be credited to the original creators.

Any other ideas are also welcome! Please email your ideas and/or submissions to <students.msa@gmail.com>. If your files are too large, please email us and we will share a google drive folder in which you can upload your material. All materials uploaded must be available to share freely in compliance with copyright agreements.

We hope you consider sharing your outreach and education materials!

 

Sincerely,

MSA Student Section Executive Board

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.