Current Student Spotlight

Student Spotlights: January

Gillian Bergmann

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Gillian Bergmann is from Portland, Oregon. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University in the spring of 2019, and now works as a faculty research assistant (lab technician) for Dr. Posy Busby and Dr. Jared LeBoldus in OSU’s Department of Botany and Plant Pathology.

 

Tell us about your project

I am currently working on characterizing the wood mycobiome of black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) as part of a study on how the wood microbiome to plant genotype and resistance/susceptibility to the pathogen Sphaerulina musiva. So far, the project has been a great learning experience for me in creating a large metabarcode library for high-throughput sequencing. On the side, I am also characterizing the fungal seed endophytes of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) using high-throughput sequencing for comparison against the culture-based characterization I did in my undergraduate thesis.

 
Awards you would like to brag about

This past summer, I received the MSA Undergraduate Research Award for my poster presentation about my undergraduate thesis at the MSA meeting in Minneapolis! It was my first time presenting at a national conference, so I am honored to have received this award.

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

I have applied for Ph.D. programs in Ecology to start in the fall of 2020. I hope that I’ll be able to conduct my graduate research on seed mycobiome assembly, and the potential roles of seed fungi in plant responses to disturbances compounded by climate change (e.g. wildfire, drought). My long-term goal is to be a professor of fungal ecology, so I’m looking forward to this next step in my training.

 
What is your favorite fungus and why?

My favorite fungus is Pseudohydnum gelatinosum, also known as the cat’s tongue jelly fungus. I like this fungus because it’s a jelly fungus with tooth- shaped hymenophore, and because it’s jiggly and edible. I’ve tried candying them, as suggested by Arora, and would like to try them in honey and cream next!

 
What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

I’m sure a lot of mycologists say this, but one of my favorite facts about fungi is that we’ve only documented a small fraction of the world’s total fungal diversity. This shows that we still have so much to learn about/from fungi, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

 
Who is your mycology role model?

My three role models are Dr. Posy Busby, Dr. Joey Spatafora, and Dr. Ed Barge. They all mentored me at various stages in my undergraduate thesis research, and they’ve inspired me with their passion for mycological research and for fungi in general.

 
Any great stories from field work?

This past fall, I helped a graduate student in the Busby Lab with field collections across multiple locations in Oregon and Washington. My favorite moment during these collections was when I stopped for lunch in one of our Oregon sites. I sat down amongst the undergrowth on the hill where we were working, and watched some birds flying between the r trees as the clouds cleared to reveal a beautiful view of the surrounding hills. This peaceful moment reminded me that the goal of ecology is to better understand (and even appreciate) the land and its diverse ecosystems, and cemented my desire to do field work in my own graduate research.

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

I’m an avid cyclist and bike racer, so much of my free time is spent riding my bike. I also enjoy singing with the Jubilate Women’s Choir of Corvallis, baking, reading, hiking, playing board games, and going on mushroom forays or road trips with my boyfriend.
Anything else you would like to share? You can follow me on instagram at Ingrid_blv426,
where I share my adventures in fungal ecology and cycling. I also have a professional website where I blog about my experiences as an early-career scientist and share research updates. You can check it out at gebergmann.weebly.com.