Research Position with the USDA

About this Position:

This position is with the USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station (NRS). They are seeking for a Research Biologist with an emphasis on mycology, located in Madison, WI. This is a full-time permanent position and the selected candidate will be eligible for a full benefit package including health/life insurance, retirement benefits, vacation and sick leave.

The position will be part of the Center for Forest Mycology Research (CFMR) in the Northern Research Station (NRS Research Work Unit 16). The CFMR is a nationally and internationally recognized source for mycological knowledge and includes a large fungal herbarium and culture collection. The mission of the CFMR is to advance the science of mycology as relates to high-priority fungi critical for forest health and management. The person selected for this position will be responsible for developing research tools and coordinating research teams that address specific solutions to problems that involve high-priority fungi for restoring or maintaining healthy ecosystems. The incumbent is expected to undertake research that will apply mycology, plant pathology and related fields to benefit the health and resiliency of forest resources. Further, the incumbent will be expected to engage CFMR stakeholders and other researchers to define forest health-related research needs in the CFMR over both short and long terms.

Qualification Requirements

Those who are interested must meet the qualification requirements for the GS-­‐0401 series that is covered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Qualification Standards for General Schedule Positions–GS-­‐12-­‐0401: Research Biologist. The OPM Qualification Standards Handbook Manual is available for the review at any federal personnel office OR on the Internet at­‐IV/A/gs-­‐admin.asp. Specialized knowledge of mycology will be needed for this position, with a Ph.D. in a field relating to mycology, such as plant pathology, botany, biology, etc., or equivalent experience.

o You must set up or have an existing USAJOBS profile.
o Search/locate the announcement number, once available.
o Select position(s) and location(s) you are interested in and begin the application process.
o You must complete and submit your application by the closing date specified on the announcement.

Check more details at

Kirsten Gotting

Kirsten Gotting

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Kirsten Gotting is from Portland, Oregon. She is doing her PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her current advisor is Cameron Currie.

Tell us about your project!

I’m really interested in evolution and diversification, and how symbiosis plays a role in these processes. The system I work on is the fungus-growing ant-microbe symbiosis. More specifically, I work on the specialized mycoparasite Escovopsis, which consumes the fungus that the ants cultivate. One of the cool things about fungus-growing ants is that they have been growing fungus for 55 million years, which for perspective was around when the dinosaurs went extinct. We don’t know when Escovopsis specialized on the fungus-growing ant cultivar, but we do know that it parasitizes almost every type of fungus-growing ant agriculture and there are specific species of Escovopsis that infect the different agricultures. I’m excited to learn more about the evolution of this parasite and how it has adapted and differentiated across ant agriculture.

What are your career goals/plans?

I came for my PhD because I really want to be a group leader some day. I love everything about basic research and can’t imagine a better job! My second choice would be some sort of data analysis project manager; data analysis and visualization is one of my favorite things on the job.

What is your favorite fungus and why?

This is so hard for me, so I’m going to name a couple. First off, the flagellated fungi that live in cow guts. I just find them absolutely fascinating, especially since when I think of flagellated fungi, chytrids and dead amphibians mostly come to mind. But the idea of having a mutualist with similar morphology in ruminant guts dispels that image for me and brings up a bunch of questions: How did they get there? How did they survive in early ruminant guts? How have they adapted to that environment?

I also am also obsessed with rust fungi; the complexity of their developmental life histories amazes me in so many ways. They create so many unique structures and have so many hosts, what’s not to love? There’s also a ton of cedar apple rust on all of the apple trees in Madison right now (early September), and while the telia are beautiful, the shape of them low-key triggers my gag reflex.

What is your favorite fact/thing about fungi?

Definitely soy sauce. But also how little we know about them. There are so many species to discover, life histories to unravel, and interactions to manipulate that I could study them for twenty lifetimes and still have more questions. I also get really inspired by the range of research that people do with fungi, it seems like they are the perfect models for so many things how could you not want to dive in!

Who is your mycology role model?

This one’s super easy for me: Anne Pringle! I’ve never told her this, but when I was in undergrad, my Ecology professor Bitty Roy showed us a video of Anne doing her multi-year experimental survey on gravestone lichens. I remember thinking to myself, “Gosh it would be so cool to get to be like her some day!” and now I get to learn from Anne because she is on my committee! I’m so grateful that Bitty showcased women scientists in her classes. I got to reconnect with Bitty through the MSA because we were both at the meeting in 2019. I honestly never saw myself getting to the place in my life where I would get to do a PhD, so having these “full circle” moments with people I admire brings me more joy than anything else.

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

Some of the fungus growing ants that we study live underground, so you have to dig an approximately two foot hole to find their nests. On my first field trip in Georgia, we were on our last day of digging ants and were trying to get as many colonies as we could. Currie lab postdoc Hongjie always “hit nest” first, but this time I was barely half way through digging my hole when he called out that he had gotten one. I couldn’t believe how fast he had finished! It felt like the further I dug, the harder it was getting for me. I asked him to come help me dig, and when he did, he exclaimed “This is like digging a rock!” Fortunately, teamwork got us to the ants by alternating digging until we got the nest. I later I come to find that the soil in the rest of the area was very soft in comparison, almost like sand, and I was kicking myself for picking a spot with really dense soil to start off with.

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

I read year round and in the winter I crochet while watching trash television. My favorite book I read this year was “The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula Leguin, it’s the first book in a while that I feel strongly compelled to read again. Ursula built up the story and alien culture in such an interesting way that actually made me want to experience the cold dark planet, which would normally terrify me mostly because I don’t like the cold. In the summer, I like to get outside, but this summer has been challenging. Luckily, I found a new passion in SUP! In Madison we are fortunate enough to be within a couple miles of three lakes, so it makes for the perfect setting for pandemic era socializing.

Anything else you’d like to talk about?

One thing that I am really interested in is the history of genetics and specifically how it has harmed marginalized groups. I am getting my PhD through the Genetics Training Program at UW Madison, and one thing that struck me in my required course work was that there wasn’t any mention of eugenics or eugenics perpetrators, who are often the same people who contributed to foundational genetics principles. I had the same kind of feeling throughout my undergraduate coursework. This knowledge gap in many genetics classes really frustrated me. I felt like the whole curriculum that I had partaken in over the years ignored the socio-political impacts of how eugenics was a large start of genetics research in the US and shaped a lot of governmental policy. I knew that there had to be other students out there that were frustrated by the lack of acknowledgement of how much harm this field can have, and that it may have pushed those students away from science and genetics.

When the civil rights protests began this summer, I felt incredibly motivated to try to make a change in my department. I got in touch with faculty in the department and suggested that there could be an entire class on how genetics has shaped policy that harms marginalized groups and that these topics should be in every class. I’m really happy to say that the faculty fully supported the idea and are now integrating these topics into their coursework, whether it be naming perpetrators in the field, or including case studies where genetics directly harmed marginalized groups. In addition, a peer and I put together a reading group with a focus on scientific accountability where we highlight specific instances where genetics has done harm, or how we can improve our genetics pedagogy to be more inclusive. So far, it’s been a really great space where faculty and students have gathered to talk about these topics. I’m really excited to see where it goes in the next year. Thus far, we’ve already started a focus group to dig up information about how our genetics department connected to eugenics in the early 1900’s. I can’t wait to see what else comes from it and hope that departments at other universities adopt similar integrations of historical perspectives into their coursework. I’m not sure what the long lasting impact of this will be, but I hope that it helps serves as a start to greater change.

PhD Fellowships Plant Pathology at Purdue University

The Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Purdue has a new PhD training program in Quantitative Plant Pathology (QP3), funded by the USDA and Purdue Research Foundation. QP3 provides funding for students to earn their PhDs in one of 13 plant pathology labs at Purdue: We are searching for talented students who are eager to make a difference through plant pathology.

Plant pathogens cause over $75 billion in crop loss worldwide and threaten to further impact food supply as climate variability and agricultural intensification worsen.  Plant pathologists need skills to analyze big data, develop epidemiological models, or develop models of plant-pathogen interactions on a cellular and molecular scale. The QP3 program will comprehensively train the next generation of plant pathologists in basic studies of molecular plant-microbe interactions as well as applied areas in disease diagnosis, epidemiology and disease management.

First semester students work in three different plant pathology labs to gain experience prior to choosing the laboratory in which to do their PhD. Students can take coursework across a range of plant pathology and quantitative biology courses and participate in a peer-mentoring program. In addition to scientific training, QP3 provides leadership and internship opportunities to prepare students for a variety of scientific careers. With a range of plant pathology faculty and unique imaging and diagnostic resources, Purdue University is uniquely positioned to offer this innovative doctoral training program.

To be eligible, applicants must have:

1.    Undergraduate GPA higher than 3.0

2.    Experience in plant pathology or plant biology (lab, field, academic or industry)

3.    Letter of recommendation from advisor of plant pathology/biology experience

4.    Not previously enrolled in BTNY graduate program at Purdue

The application deadline for QP3 is Dec. 15. Applicants apply to the BPP department through the Purdue Graduate School:, and list ‘plant pathology’ as their area of interest.

Questions can be directed to Dr. Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi,

P. cinnamomi Genetics Post-Doc

The Manosalva laboratory at UCR is recruiting for a highly motivated postdoc to work on different projects recently funded by USDA grants to understand P. cinnamomi (Pc) genetic and phenotypic diversity, host adaptation, and to develop molecular diagnostics tools. Phytophthora species’overall economic damage to crops in the United States (US) is estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars, including the costs of control measures. Phytophthora cinnamomi, a widely distributed devastating soil-borne oomycete pathogen, causes Phytophthora Root Rot (PRR) in over 5,000 plant species including many of importance in agriculture, forestry, horticulture, and nursery industry. Avocado PRR remains the common hindrance to avocado production worldwide. This pathogen affects approximately 60-75% of California (CA) avocado growers causing losses of $40 million annually. Despite the importance of this devastating pathogen, the mechanisms explaining the genetic and phenotypic variability as well as host adaptation are completely unknown. Moreover, the recent identification of fungicide resistant Pc isolates that are also more virulent in avocado argues for the development of new strategies for Pc management.

Description. The successful candidate will lead existing and new projects focused on elucidating the molecular basis of pathogen genotypic and phenotypic diversity by integrating molecular, biochemical, genomic,
transcriptomic, and comparative genomics approaches. The appointed will also oversee the P. cinnamomi lab collection and will also participate in the pathogen yearly surveys with other members of the Manosalva research
team. This candidate will work with and assist US collaborators on the development of isolate/clade/phenotypicspecific DNA- and protein-based diagnostic tools that will allow us to monitor the spread and distribution of more virulent and fungicide resistant isolates as well as to detect the emergence or introductions of new P. cinnamomi isolates, which can be detrimental for agriculture, forestry, natural communities, and biodiversity. This position entails laboratory, greenhouse, and field work. The appointee will analyze data, write progress reports, and publications in a timely manner as well as work and train graduate and undergraduate students in the lab.

Minimum qualifications
• A Ph.D. in plant pathology, microbiology, or related areas.
• Experience working with oomycete or fungal pathogens (basic laboratory culture and greenhouse inoculation methods).
• Demonstrated skills and experience analyzing Next Generation Sequencing data.
• Experience with execution of bioinformatic pipelines for genome and transcriptome sequencing analyses.
• Extensive experience with DNA- and RNA-based techniques including nucleic acid isolation and qPCR.
• Strong publication records.
• Excellent communication and writing skills, since this position involves preparing research progress reports and assisting the PI in publications and grant writing activities.
• Work independently and in a collaborative multidisciplinary environment. The appointee will interact with a big research team of ~14 Co-Project Directors with different areas of expertise including Horticulturist, Plant Pathologist, Plant Breeders, Engineers, Bioinformaticians, Farm Advisors, and Extension Faculties.

Preferred qualifications
• Candidates with dual background in Phytophthora spp. biology and genomics will be strongly considered.
• Experience/knowledge related to plant-oomycete molecular interactions and effectoromics will be a plus.
• Experience working with pathogen diagnostic tools such as mitochondrial haplotypes, qPCR, and recombinase polymerase amplification (RPA) will be a plus.
• Knowledge of Linux and computer programing languages will be a plus.

UCR is a world-class research university with an exceptionally diverse undergraduate student body. Its mission is explicitly linked to providing routes to educational success for underrepresented and first-generation college students. A commitment to this mission is a preferred qualification.

How to Apply/Contact: The position could commence as early as November 1st, 2020 but no later than January 15th, 2021. Screening will start on September 21th and will continue until the position is filled. Salary will be competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience. Candidates should apply directly to Dr. Patricia Manosalva via email by submitting a single PDF file containing: cover letter and curriculum vitae
(CV) indicating how you meet the minimum qualifications and listing the contact information of three references to The subject of the email should be “Postdoctoral Scholar in Phytophthora cinnamomi”.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Switchgrass Microbiome Post-Doc

Switchgrass is a cellulosic bioenergy crop that is being tested for performance on non-arable (marginal) lands. We seek an excellent Postdoc to conduct microbiome research to understand the drivers and consequences of switchgrass rhizosphere communities, and to coordinate plant, fungal, and bacteria-based team research activities across labs. The position will be located on the Michigan State University (MSU) main campus (East Lansing), but will frequently travel to execute collaborative projects at MSU’s Kellogg Biological Station (Hickory Corners) and present GLBRC microbiome results at meetings.

Check the following link for information on requirements, application instructions and more

Diversity Advancement Graduate Assistantship

BPP Diversity Advancement Graduate Assistantship 

Oregon State University – Department of Botany and Plant Pathology

“The Department of Botany and Plant Pathology (BPP) is pleased to invite applicants for the BPP Diversity Advancement Graduate Assistantship. BPP provides funding for a graduate assistantship to increase the ethnic and cultural diversity in plant sciences, to promote diversification of the academic environment in BPP and OSU, and to prepare students for their future careers in academics and industry. This assistantship is intended to create opportunities that enhance the inclusion of graduate students from nontraditional backgrounds who have expressed interests in a career in the plant sciences.”

Check information about qualifications, assistantship details, application requirements and deadlines at

For more information contact the BPP Graduate Studies Committee at 541-737-5362 or Bruce McCone at

Grad Student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Dr. Stephanie Kivlin

University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Dr. Kivlin is an Assistant Professor and a microbial and ecosystem ecologist at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She is currently recruiting graduate students for Fall 2021. Her current research interests include (1) altitudinal gradients in fungal phytobiomes and resulting consequences on plant fitness and soil carbon storage, (2) the role of fungi and bacteria in above- and belowground ecosystem response to disturbance in the nearby Smoky Mountains, and (3) global patterns of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal distributions and diversity (her website).

Feel free to check her website and contact her to discuss about fungi, biogeography and global change before the Dec 1st (deadline to apply for the program).

Grad Student at NC A&T

Dr. Omoanghe Isikhuemhen 

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Dr. Omoanghe is at a LandGrant University in North Carolina ( and is in the College of Agriculture. His background is in mycology, and his research is in the area of applied mycology. He is seeking graduate students for MSc now or PhD students (our PhD program is scheduled to come on in Fall 2021). The area of interest is Mushroom Science and Biotechnology. Specific research areas could be in truffle biology and cultivation; Mushrooms for food and feed; Plant pathology in emerging crops. Assistantship of up to 24k per year is available. The tuition waiver is difficult, but it is available sometimes.

Check out this cool story Made in Greensboro wrote about him and his research at NCAT:

if you are interested, please reach out to Dr. Omoanghe at

Executive Board 2020-2021 Nominations

Hi everyone!

The current board would like to introduce you to the nominees for the 2020-2021 Student Section Board. Look out for elections soon! 🙂

Chair – Robert Powers (University of Michigan)

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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 complexMy 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 previously as secretary followed by Vice-Chair of the MSA Student Section, and am transitioning to the Chair position 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.  


Vice Chair – Tania Kurbessoian (University of California, Riverside)

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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.- where we are interested in fostering 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. For 2019-2020 I was the Communications Chair and loved my experience working with the folks in this organization and would love to continue to do so. I believe organizations like yours 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!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.- where we are interested in fostering 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. For 2019-2020 I was the Communications Chair and loved my experience working with the folks in this organization and would love to continue to do so. I believe organizations like yours 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!


Secretary – KC Cifizzari (Washington State University)

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My name is KC and I’m a Master’s student in Biology at Washington State University in Tri-Cities, WA. My current research is looking at mycorrhizal fungal inoculants and the impact on grapevine growth and nutrient uptake. I have been interested in mycorrhizal fungi for several years and have examined them in the majority of my projects to some capacity. I first joined MSA in 2016 but need to update and renew my student membership. I am interested to expand my myco-horizons to learn more about other types of fungi and research that folks are doing in this field. As an undergraduate at Indiana University I served as secretary for an organization called Grad Queers which served to network and organize LGBTQ graduate students on campus. While in that position I handled monies and kept the group’s leger. I look forward to more opportunities to connect with like-minded folks in different parts of the country and would be happy to serve as secretary for the MSA executive board.


Webmaster – Maria-Jose Romero-Jimenez (Oregon State University)

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Hi! My name is María-José Romero-Jiménez and I am finishing my Master’s at Western Illinois University. I am currently doing research at Dr. Andrea Porras-Alfaro Fungal Ecology laboratory characterizing Darksidea species and the effect they have on grasses. This Fall I will start a PhD at Oregon State University at Posy Busby’s lab. I have attended several MSA meetings and always enjoyed the great environment. For the past year I have been the webmaster for the Student Section and liked it! I would like to support and bring more to the society through the webmaster position of the Student Section Website. 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. I also was a co-chair for the Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference this year. 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.


Merch Chair – Samantha Lynn Harrow (University of Wisconsin – Madison)

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Lynn is a Ph.D. candidate in the Pringle lab in the Department of Botany at UW-Madison and has a background in synthetic organic chemistry, natural products chemistry, and plant ecology. Her primary interests are centered on the biochemistry and ecology of plant and fungal secondary compounds. Her current research focuses on the population genomics and biosynthetic pathway of toxins in Amanita phalloides. She is using bioinformatics, genomics, and heterologous expression to understand the genetic underpinnings of this system as well as the intraspecific variation of individuals across North America and Europe.


Communication Chair – Gillian Bergmann (University of California, Davis)

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Gillian is currently working as a lab technician at Oregon State University, and will be starting as a Ph.D. student in the UC Davis Ecology program this fall to study seed mycobiome assembly. During her bachelor’s degree at Oregon State, Gillian was the OSU Cycling Club media coordinator and the OSU Mycology Club webmaster for several years. In these positions, Gillian shared club updates on their respective websites and social media platforms, acted as club photographer, and worked with club members to gather event photos for dissemination online. She also redesigned the website for the OSU Cycling Club, and set up the OSU Mycology Club website as it’s first media officer. As a lab technician, she assisted in revitalizing the OSU Mycology Club, and is working with Dr. Jessie Uehling to establish social media accounts for the Oregon Mycoflora Project. She also uses her personal website to share her research and experiences as an early career scientist. When she participated in the MSA meeting last year, she was struck by how welcoming and supportive everyone in the student section was. Gillian would like to contribute to supportive community through serving as the communication chair. 


Treasurer – Soleil Young (University of Wisconsin – Madison)

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I am currently a second-year graduate student in the Currie lab at UW-Madison, where I study the evolution of the fungal cultivar of leaf-cutting ants. I am particularly interested in how mutualisms shape the dynamics of sexual reproduction in microbial eukaryotes, and the active role that fungal mutualists play in establishment and maintenance of symbioses. The fungi have agency too! I am running for treasurer because I want to get more involved in the MSA student section and contribute to a society that has been welcoming and informative. I did my undergraduate work on bacteria, and only recently transitioned to studying fungi, but many members of MSA have mentored me during this transition. Although I have never served as a treasurer, during my undergraduate at Syracuse University, I was the managing editor of my school’s LGBTQ magazine, The OutCrowd, for three years. I am also currently working on a zine highlighting both historical women in science who have been largely overlooked or had their accomplishments stolen by male counterparts, and current women scientists involved in science communication. 


Postdoctoral Representative – Arthur Grupe (University of Colorado, Boulder)

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Hello! I am Arthur Grupe, a Post-Doctoral Scholar at University of Colorado Boulder with Dr. Alisha Quandt. I study host jumping in entomopathogenic fungi. Prior to this, I studied the ecology and systematics of the pecan truffle (Tuber lyonii) and related species in commercial pecan orchards in Georgia. This work at the University of Florida (UF) with Dr. Matthew Smith led to my PhD. Before that I studied diversity and evolution of tooth fungi (Sarcodon species) from Central and South America at Humboldt State University with Dr. Terry Henkel for my Master’s thesis. My leadership experience includes being president of the local mycology club, Florida Academic Lichen and Fungal Enthusiasts League (F.A.L.A.F.E.L.) at UF and regular contributions to citizen scientist projects such as the Mycoflora project and macrofungal identification special interest groups on social media. My mentoring experience includes training undergraduate and high school researchers, and receiving excellent mentorship at multiple career phases. My goals for being the post doc representative on the MSA Student Section would be to organize workshops/discussions on: 1) Being a competitive candidate for permanent jobs in academia or industry; 2) Post Doc Life: how to manage? 3) mental health resources and strategies (we all know this is a weird spot in our career); 4) diversity and inclusion in academia; 5) successful techniques for teaching/creating undergrad/grad classes that utilize an inclusive pedagogy; 6) your idea! Thank you for your time and consideration.

Savannah Gentry

Savannah Gentry

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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.