Sofie Irons

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Limerick Maine

Where are you currently doing your research?

Clark University

Who is your advisor?

David Hibbett and Javier Tabima

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

I’m not sure yet! I’m passionate about research, agriculture, and environmental education, so we will see where I end up!

What is something inspiring or useful that you learned from your experiences in mycology?

Resilience (whether its biological, societal, emotional) can come in many different forms

Which awards would you like to brag about?

I received the LEEP fellowship in spring of 2022

What is your favorite fungus and why?

Ophiocordyceps sinensis! I think the history is cool, and I like the idea of a parasitic fungus having potential health benefits!

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

I love how diverse their morphology and reproductive methods can be

Tell us about your project!

My research project focuses on the species Lentinus tigrinus, a white-rot wood decaying fungus. Interestingly, this species occurs along riverbeds and on partially submerged logs within the rivers themselves. This fungus has two different phenotypic forms, one secotioid (veiled gilled) and one agaricoid (gilled). The secotioid form has only been described in North America, where the two forms can be found within the same population. I am currently looking to see if there is structuring within the population that can be found along the Ipswich River in MA, as well as using the ratio of heterozygous to homozygous individuals to determine if assortative mating is occurring within the same population.

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

I enjoy hiking, photography, and cooking! I also love my part time job coaching kids at a local rock climbing gym.

Any great stories from field work?

Most of my fieldwork happens while canoeing on the Ipswich river, leading to lots of little adventures! My favorite routine happens consistently in early summer, when the Canada geese and swans begin to bring their babies out and about into the world! Whenever they swim past us (and after we fully appreciate their adorableness, of course) there is always a battle among lab members as some of us furiously row towards the babies to get a better view, and the rest of us furiously row away, trying to steer clear of angry parents!

Researchers canoeing Ipswich River following swans