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Savannah Gentry grew up in Port Neches (Texas) and Klamath Falls (Oregon). She is currently doing research at Madison, Wisconsin with Anne Pringle.

Tell us about your project!

I work with fungal pathogens of wildlife and have found that two pathogens responsible for infectious diseases in snakes and lizards (snake fungal disease and yellow fungal disease, respectively) can infect other animals. 

Stemming from the results of that experiment, I’m currently interested in creating a project to identify keratinases (specialized enzymes that degrade keratin) and other degradation enzymes that are activated when the fungi interact with different substrate treatments. In short, I want to understand if these suite of activated enzymes could be pathogenicity factors.

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

My career goal would be to land a position that allows me to continue to do work with fungal pathogens and community-based research dealing with access to education and socioeconomic inequity.

What is your favorite fungus and why?

Cat’s Tongue (Pseudohydnum gelatinosum) because of how they feel and they can be candied – a textured and sugar snack wrapped up in one fungus.

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

Two things: 1) how much we don’t know about fungi, even ones that are considered well-studied are constantly revealing new things and 2) their versatility as pathogens, degraders, mutualists, parasites, etc., one fungus can fall into multiple categories at the slightest environmental difference and I find that extraordinary.

Who is your mycology role model?

For me that has never been one person but multiple people whether they are my peers or people that have been in the field for decades, I find speaking with other mycologists inspires me to stay curious about the world. However, if I have to name names, there are few people I’ve met that can identify mushrooms like Alden Dirks can.

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

I’m a big gamer, so in my free time I enjoy both video games and tabletop games. My main hobby is drawing and use that as my main avenue to relieve stress. Check out my instagram @kawaiifungi!

Anything else you’d like to talk about, leave here! (career goals, outreach, science communication, photography, etc).

It’s important that scientists do not separate themselves from the general public or their own communities. In order to stay connected, unite others, and share the wonderful world of mycology, connections are important. So, be active in your community and build those connections; it’s never just about the science.