I am forever thankful to the guests who visit Fungi Town. This show wouldn’t be nearly what it is without them. Thank you to all of the folks below who agreed to talk to me about their research, hobbies, farms, products and more. You’ve been an inspiration! Find out more about the guests who have generously contributed their time and expertise to Fungi Town below.

If you’d like to join this impressive list, contact the show to get started.

Episode 24: The Fungus Olympics Part 3

Dr. Derreck Carter-House of the University of California at Riverside

Dr. Derreck Carter-House earned his PhD and is continuing his research at the Stajich Lab as a Postdoctoral Scholar. He studies biowarfare between fungi and bacteria with an eye toward developing tools for agriculture and medicine. He also developed a Science to Policy program at UCR to train early career scientists for new and exciting pathways outside of academia and is the Chair of Graduate Education. Derreck is the recipient of the 2019 Science Translator Award from The California Council on Science and Technology.

Dr. Ilkka Kronholm from the University of Jyväskylä

I am a researcher at the University of Jyväskylä. I’m interested in the role of epigenetics in phenotypic plasticity and evolution. I’m using both models and experiments. The experimental work I’m doing at the moment is done with the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa. I’m interested in if epigenetic changes like DNA methylation or histone modifications contribute to evolution. Neurospora is a great model system for genetics and I’m leveraging the power of fungal genetics in my current work.
Previously, I did a post-doc at the University of Edinburgh, where I worked on the unicellular algae Chlamydomonas.
Before that, I did my Ph.D. work at the Max-Planck Institute of Plant Breeding Research on the population genetics of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

Episodes 22 & 23: Richer Than Gold

Dr. Roo Vandegrift of the University of Oregon

Dr. Roo Vandegrift, producer of the forthcoming documentary film Marrow of the Mountain, is a queer scientist and illustrator. He received his doctorate in mycology (the study of mushrooms and fungi) from the University of Oregon’s Institute of Ecology and Evolution, doing much of his dissertation work on the ecology of fungi at Los Cedros, in Ecuador. He has published peer-reviewed research in internationally acclaimed journals such as MicrobiomeBiotropica, and the Journal of Tropical Conservation Science. Most recently, he was awarded a National Geographic Explorer grant to coordinate a multi-disciplinary, international expedition to expand knowledge of the biodiversity at the Los Cedros Biological Reserve.

Episode 21: Flying Saltshakers of Death

Dr. Matthew Kasson of the University of West Virginia

Dr. Kasson received his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the Pennsylvania State University where his research focused on using a native fungus, Verticillium nonalfalfae, as a biological control of the invasive tree, Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven). His current research areas include fungal-arthropod interactions, biological control of invasive plants and pathogens, and the biology and ecology of historic and emerging diseases of forest trees. Dr. Kasson is currently the interim director of the International Culture Collection of (Vesicular) Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (INVAM) and currently has research focused on the metabolites associated with interactions between arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and their plant partners. Dr. Kasson teaches undergraduate courses on general plant pathology and forest pest management, and offers special topics courses for graduate students including advanced plant disease diagnostics. (from the West Virginia University website)

Episode 20: No Bad Yolks

Douglas Manofsky and Craig Rouskey of Pando Nutrition

Douglas Manofsky is a passionate engineer with a love for microbiology and startups. He is co-founder and CEO of Pando Nutrition. Pando Nutrition is focused on ending the misuse of antibiotics in livestock production by engineering probiotic alternatives. Pando specializes in yeast-based probiotics with nutritional and therapeutic effects in livestock to produce cleaner, safer, and healthier animal products. 

Craig Rouskey is a Molecular Biologist and Immunologist with over 18 years of experience in Academic and Industrial scientific settings. Throughout his career, he has focused on delivering effecting therapeutics to humans and animals. As co-founder and CSO of Pando Nutrition, his main focus is to deliver fungi-based probiotics and prebiotics to livestock. 

“Fungi Town is great resource to learn all about nature’s greatest workhorse: fungi!” – Doug Manofsky

“Being on Fungi Town was an awesome experience, and I look forward to hearing more from Jen! Go Fungi!” – Craig Rouskey

Episode 19: Musical Mycelium

Tosca Terán of Nanotopia

I view my research as a collaborative effort with the non-Human entities I touch, caress, grow. Having ‘minds’ of their own, my work explores sculpting forms with living mycelium, and bio-sonification. My fascination with mycelium (the root structure of mushrooms) is compounded by a number of factors: fungi are neither plant nor animal and fungi can clean up ecological disasters. This work invites people to hear sounds created by non-human organisms. Tosca Teran, aka Nanotopia is an interdisciplinary artist. Her work has been featured at SOFA New York, Culture Canada, and The Toronto Design Exchange. Tosca has been awarded artist residencies with Nes, Skagaströnd and Sím, Reykjavik Iceland. She was recently awarded a Bio-Artist residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art in partnership with the Ontario Science Centre. Tosca would like to thank Guttman Laboratory of Pathogen Genomics and Evolution for their assistance and access, and the Ontario Arts Council for their generous support.

Andrei Gravelle of Nanotopia

In a career that has spanned the disciplines of audio recording, music performance and photography, Andrei is self-described as a technologist fascinated by trans-humanism and the contemplation that all of existence is digital. Recurring motifs in their personal work, regardless of medium are existential crisis, memento mori and the idea of creating experiences that evoke a powerful sense of nostalgia and longing for something that has never occurred.

Episode 18: The Fungus Olympics Part 2

Dr. Shiv Kale from Virginia Tech

Dr. Kale is a Research Scientist and Group Leader at the Biocomplexity Institute of Virginia Tech. He did Ph.D.PhD and BS at Virginia Tech as well. It’s been his home for quite some time. His research is focused on clinically relevant fungi of the respiratory system, primarily Aspergillus fumigatus. His lab takes a primarily systems biology approach to understand how A. fumigatusis able to cause a variety of disease manifestations that range from an allergic response to invasive fungal growth. They also focus on protein biochemistry of secreted proteins from a variety of fungal plant and animal pathogens. 

“Kudos for creating a relaxed platform to discuss all things fungus, this was a lot of fun!” – Dr. Shiv Kale

Dr. Daniel Henk from the University of Bath

The first part of Dr. Henk’s research is essentially about measuring fungal biodiversity and inferring its role in larger communities. Genomics serves the dual purpose of allowing high-throughput identification via targeted sequencing while also allowing fine-scale partitioning of diversity via resequencing. The second part of his research is focused on how genomes evolve in response to environments. This research uses experiments to measure mutation types and rates in a variety of environmental conditions, and his research also uses natural populations to discover how recombination and spatial structure modify fungal evolution. With more genomes sequenced than any other eukaryotic group, fungi offer unique opportunities to study how these complex organisms respond to stressful or permissive environments. (from University of Bath website)

Dr. David Peris from the University of Valencia

Dr. Perishas a Ph.D. in Biotechnology, in 2012 at the University of Valencia. David Perishas a yeast evolutionary biology and biotechnological applications background. He is a Marie Sklodowska Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA) – CSIC for studying the generation of yeast biodiversity, mitochondrial introgression, and their applications to the alcoholic beverage industry. He has also developed his research in the Institute Cavanilles of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Valencia, in the University of Manchester and in the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Perishas been a lecturer of basic genetics and evolutionary biology. He has mentored undergraduates, Ph.D. students, and postdocs, and he was also president of the regional Section of Spanish Scientists in the USA (ECUSA) – Midwest from 2015 to 2017, developing mentoring and outreach programs. Dr. Perisis the co-author of 18 papers in indexed journals (2 of them were journal covers), 1 review, 2 papers submitted and he was involved in 10 research projects. He has been a reviewer of 9 international journals, and he has participated in different international conferences, contributing with posters and talks. He has also been awarded 4 travel grants, 1 professional development award, 2 research grants, 1 oral talk prize and he has displayed 3 intellectual disclosure reports and 2 patents.

“It was a lot of fun to talk with Jen about yeast diversity, their biotechnological applications and the participation of SBYBI lab in the Fungus Olympics” – Dr. David Peris

Episode 17: Nematodes Beware!

Dr. Greg Thorn from Western University in London, Ontario

Dr. Thorn grew up in London Ontario and became interested in natural history through the family garden, long summer vacations, and the local Field Naturalists group. Six summers as a naturalist in Algonquin Park built on this and introduced him to the world of mushrooms and other fungi. Writing the checklist of Algonquin Park macrofungi led him to consult experts from Richard Korf to Jim Ginns and Scott Redhead, all of whom encouraged him to further studies of fungi. His graduate studies were at the University of Guelph (with George Barron) and the University of Toronto (with David Malloch), followed by positions in Japan, Michigan, Indiana, Wyoming, and finally back to London as a faculty member in the Department of Biology, University of Western Ontario. his research is focused on the impacts of disturbance on the diversity of mushroom fungi, and systematics of mushroom fungi generally.

“It was a real pleasure chatting with you today for your Fungi Town podcast. Always good to get the word out about how cool and important fungi are.” – Dr. Greg Thorn

Episode 16: The Great Lakes

Dr. Robert Cichewicz from the University of Oklahoma

Robert has had a long-standing fascination for the chemistry and biology of natural products. These interests were initially cultivated during his childhood and young adult life in rural western Michigan and further refined during his undergraduate experiences in biology (B.S. 1994) and anthropology (B.S. 1994) at Grand Valley State University. Robert went on to the University of Louisiana, Monroe where he obtained his M.S. degree in pharmaceutical sciences (1999) under the guidance of Dr. S. Kouzi in the microbial biotransformation of natural products. Following these studies, Robert joined the plant natural products lab of Dr. M. G. Nair at Michigan State University where he earned his Ph.D. in 2002. Upon moving to the University of California, Santa Cruz, Robert conducted postdoctoral studies in the field of bioactive marine-derived natural products under the mentorship of Dr. P. Crews. In 2005, Robert began his independent research career by establishing the Natural Products Discovery Group as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Oklahoma. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2011 and later named a Regents’ Professor in 2012. Also in 2012, Robert was appointed the Director of the University of Oklahoma, Institute for Natural Products Applications and Research Technologies (INPART), which is focused on translating natural products into therapeutic leads to combat cancer, infectious diseases, and other unmet medical needs. In 2014, Robert was promoted to full professor. Robert’s research group merges technologies and methods from the chemical, biological, and microbiological sciences for the purpose of discovering new bioactive metabolites from fungi and bacteria.

Dr. Andrew Miller of the Illinois Natural History Survey

Dr. Andrew Miller is a research professor and serves as the Director of the Herbarium at the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Andy has traveled extensively throughout the world collecting and describing fungi, documenting their biodiversity, and studying their evolutionary relationships. An expert on both large macrofungi and small microfungi, he has described over 100 species of fungi new to science. Andy has published over 120 scientific and popular papers on fungi and has given numerous lectures and workshops to a variety of organizations on the diversity and importance of fungi.

“It was a great experience being interviewed for a podcast on FungiTown. Jen asked creative and intriguing questions that allowed me to share my research on fungi with the World.” – Dr. Andrew Miller

Episode 15: The Fungus Olympics

Dr. Daniel Irimia from the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital

Daniel Irimia, MD, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the BioMEMS Resource Center at the Center for Engineering in Medicine (CEM). He is an internationally recognized expert in bioengineered microsystems for cellular chemotaxis and other functional assays.  Dr. Irimia’s scholarship is reflected in more than 100 publications, of which more than 60 in the past 5 years. He is a senior author on publications in leading journals, including Nature Biomedical Engineering, Nature Materials, Nature Communications, andPNAS. He is also the organizer of the Cell World Races, aimed at encouraging scientists and clinician-researchers to utilize microfluidic tools in their research for a higher level of precision and detail that are not currently possible using any of the other tools. (adapted from Massachusetts General Hospital)

Derreck Carter-House from the University of California at Riverside

I’m a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in Jason Stajich’s lab. I study bacterial-fungal interactions, and I’m particularly interested in early diverging fungi, such as Rhizopus stolonifer, the black mold on old strawberries. I want to know more about how fungi defend themselves from bacteria. I devote a great deal of time to planning and conducting science outreach to the local community, teaching kids and parents about plant pathology and future careers in science.

Jesus Pena from the University of California at Riverside

I’m a 3rd year Ph.D. candidate in the Stajich Lab at UC Riverside. I study sexual development in mucoromycotina, a subphylum of Mucoromycota. My work is motivated by the fact that we know a lot about the developmental mechanisms in animals and how those relate to body plan evolution, but there’s little information about this in fungi. Outside of the lab, I’m interested in making science accessible to the public through informal education. twitter: @FungalEvoDevo

Dr. Jason Stajich from the University of California at Riverside

I am interested in the process and mechanisms of evolution. I study this primarily in fungi using comparative, computational, and experimental tools.  We utilize genome and RNA sequencing, sequence analysis, molecular evolution, and phylogenetics, and molecular biology tools to explore the functions of genes or genomic regions identified by analyses to be involved in processes we study. Most of our work is focused in the zygomycete and zoosporic chytrid fungi (fungi that move!). We also have collaborative projects and interests in AspergillusFusariumCoccidioides, and Clavispora lusitaniae. The lab is increasingly moving towards questions that relate to symbioses with new projects on fungal-bacteria antagonism and on the biological symbioses that occur among fungi, algae, bacteria in desert Biological crusts. I also have a new interest in extremophile fungi and working on projects to understand the halophilic Hortaea werneckii and endolithic Antarctic fungi through genome sequencing and laboratory experiments. 

Dr. Ilkka Kronholm from the University of Jyväskylä

I am a researcher at the University of Jyväskylä. I’m interested in the role of epigenetics in phenotypic plasticity and evolution. I’m using both models and experiments. The experimental work I’m doing at the moment is done with the filamentous fungus Neurospora crassa. I’m interested in if epigenetic changes like DNA methylation or histone modifications contribute to evolution. Neurospora is a great model system for genetics and I’m leveraging the power of fungal genetics in my current work.
Previously, I did a post-doc at the University of Edinburgh, where I worked on the unicellular algae Chlamydomonas.
Before that, I did my Ph.D. work at the Max-Planck Institute of Plant Breeding Research on the population genetics of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana.

Episode 14: Halloween 2018

Dr. Andrew Miller of the Illinois Natural History Survey

Dr. Andrew Miller is a research professor and serves as the Director of the Herbarium at the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Andy has traveled extensively throughout the world collecting and describing fungi, documenting their biodiversity, and studying their evolutionary relationships. An expert on both large macrofungi and small microfungi, he has described over 100 species of fungi new to science. Andy has published over 120 scientific and popular papers on fungi and has given numerous lectures and workshops to a variety of organizations on the diversity and importance of fungi.

“It was a great experience being interviewed for a podcast on FungiTown. Jen asked creative and intriguing questions that allowed me to share my research on fungi with the World.” – Dr. Andrew Miller

Episode 13: Frogs and Fungi

Dr. Taegan McMahon from The University of Tampa

Assistant Professor, Biology
Education: 2007 Bates College, B.S. 
2013 University of South Florida, Ph.D.
Career Specialties: Taegan McMahon’s interest in both applied and fundamental ecology is reflected in her research. She studies both anthropogenic and non-anthropogenic factors that affect community structure and species interactions, with an emphasis on aquatic communities and host-pathogen interactions. She also studies the impacts of the pathogenic chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) its hosts (amphibians, crayfish, etc).
Professional and Community Activities: McMahon is following two research pathways, both relating to the parasitic chytrid fungus and its hosts. She is investigating the non-amphibian hosts of the chytrid fungus (e.g. Crayfish (McMahon et al. 2013 PNAS) and is also researching possible vaccination regimes for frogs and chytrid. She was able to demonstrate that frogs could develop acquired resistance to the chytrid fungus given previous exposures to dead chytrid (McMahon, et al 2014 Nature). This means the potential to vaccinate frogs against the fungus.

“I had a great time with the Fungi Town podcast, thank you for sharing my research!” – Dr. Taegan McMahon

Episode 12: Ergot A Better Title?

Dr. Anthony Glenn from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service

Dr. Glenn is a Research Plant Pathologist with the Toxicology & Mycotoxin Research Unit in the U.S. National Poultry Research Center (since 2001). Ph.D. from UGA Dept of Plant Pathology, 2001. M.S. from UGA Dept of Plant Pathology, 1995. B.S. from Auburn Univ. at Montgomery, 1993. His research focuses on fungi that infect crops such as corn and produce toxic metabolites, called mycotoxins, that cause diseases in animals and humans. He has worked primarily with fungal species that produce the ergot alkaloid, aflatoxin, and fumonisin mycotoxins.

Episode 11: Tree-of-Heaven

Kristen Wickert from West Virginia University

Kristen is a Plant Pathology Ph.D. Candidate at WVU. She studies all sorts of Fungi especially entomopathogens and vascular wilt diseases. Her two favorite research fungal species are Lecanicillium lecaniiand Verticillium nonalfalfae.

Episode 10: Smut

Dr. Marin Brewer from the University of Georgia

Dr. Brewer is an Associate Professor in the University of Georgia’s plant pathology department. Her lab studies fungal diseases of plants, including gummy stem blight of cucurbits, leaf and fruit spot of blueberry, and Fusariumwilt of cotton. They also examine the human fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatusin agricultural and clinical environments. The lab recently won the University of Georgia President’s Interdisciplinary Seed Grant. Dr. Brewer received her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology from Cornell and her M.S. in Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences from the University of Maine. 

Daniel Brooks of Licha’s Cantina

Daniel Brooks is Chef and Owner at Licha’s Cantina in Austin, Texas. Growing up in Mexico City, he learned from childhood how to prepare traditional Mexican dishes and perfect the region’s traditional flavors. When he was just 24, Daniel opened his first food venture in San Antonio and in 2006 he became the General Manager of Vespaio Ristorante in Austin. In 2014, he opened Licha’s Cantina, named after his mother. (adapted from Austin Food + Wine Festival)

Episode 09: Fun With Fibers

Alissa Allen of Mycopigments

Alissa Allen is a self-taught mycologist and the founder of Mycopigments. She specializes in teaching about regional mushroom and lichen dye palettes to fiber artists and mushroom enthusiasts all over
the world. Alissa got her start in the Pacific Northwest and has been sharing her passion for mushrooms for over 15 years. She has written articles for her website as well as Fungi Magazine and Fibershed. In 2015, she created the Mushroom and Lichen Dyers United discussion group and The Mushroom Dyers Trading Post. These groups have grown into a community of over 6000 members. In 2020 Alissa will host the International Fungus and Fiber Symposium in the US at a location yet to be disclosed. Alissa uses brilliant colors found in fungal dyes to entice people to take a closer look at mushrooms and lichens and the role they play in the greater ecosystem. To read more about her work, visit

Tess Barlow, Alissa Allen’s student

Tess is a mycologist who lives with her husband and two boys in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. When she’s not hunting mushrooms to create dyes with, she enjoys knitting, sewing, gardening, and being out in the wilderness. She’s also got a keen eye for photography. You can find her wonderful photos on Instagram @hericium2.0 (adapted from Instagram)

Episode 08: White on the Nose

Melissa Ingala from the American Museum of Natural History

Melissa’s research interests broadly center around the role of gut microbes – “the microbiome” – in shaping the evolution and ecology of mammals. She is co-advised by curators Dr. Nancy Simmons and Dr. Susan Perkins. For her dissertation, Melissa is examining how symbiotic gut microbes have facilitated the ecological radiation of New World bats, particularly with respect to their diets and the number and diversity of parasites they harbor. One of her projects involving vampire bats examines how dietary shifts from native wildlife to livestock in Belize impacts the diversity of microbes in the gut, and whether that has any influence over the vampire’s innate immunity. Melissa is testing the relationship between dietary specialization and microbiome specialization in Phyllostomid bats, which contain insectivorous generalists, omnivores, and highly specialized frugivores. Finally, because the microbiome is known to impact host immunity, she is examining the interplay between the bat gut microbiome and helminth parasites. The goal of her research is to increase our understanding of host-microbe interactions through ecological and evolutionary time. As a BS/MS student at Fordham University, Melissa studied the cutaneous lipid-based defenses of bats against the novel pathogen P. destructans, the etiological agent of White Nose Syndrome. She is passionate about educational outreach and the need for bat conservation through habitat preservation. (adapted from

Karen Vanderwolf of University of Wisconsin-Madison

I received my BSc at the University of Western Ontario and my Masters of Science at the University of New Brunswick where I studied bats and the pre-white-nose syndrome fungal flora that occurs on them. I’m currently at Trent University studying how the mycobiome of bats varies with their susceptibility to white-nose syndrome and which fungal species can inhibit the white-nose syndrome pathogen, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, in the lab.

“I’m always happy to participate in outreach activities about science, especially when it is about the generally overlooked world of fungi. There are so many stories to tell and your enthusiasm in telling them comes through!” – Karen Vanderwolf

Episode 07: The Pecan Truffle

Dr. Tim Brenneman from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Georgia

Dr. Brenneman was born in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and received his B.S. in Biology from Goshen College (Goshen, Indiana) and his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Virginia Tech. He joined the faculty of the University of Georgia in 1986 and currently serves as professor of plant pathology with responsibilities for research and extension programming on peanuts and pecans, two of the major crops in Georgia. He also teaches Introductory Plant Pathology at the UGA Tifton campus and has mentored numerous graduate students and post-docs. His research program has been broad, including the discovery of pecan truffles in Georgia, but his main focus has always been on developing improved, more cost-efficient methods of disease control. He has published over 140 refereed articles, and several hundred abstracts. He enjoys hunting, fishing, camping and exploring the great outdoors in his free time.

“I appreciate being on Fungi Town – it’s a good venue for  describing our research in a broader perspective to an audience that might not be aware of it otherwise.” – Tim Brenneman

Dr. Matthew Smith from the University of Florida

Matt is an Associate Professor in Fungal Biology based at the University of Florida. Dr. Smith is affiliated with the Department of Plant Pathology but also serves as the curator of the Fungal Collection for the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLAS). Matt teaches fungal biology and conducts research on fungal systematics, ecology, and evolution. He loves all kinds of fungi but truffles (hypogeous fungi) are his favorite.

“The only thing I love more than collecting and studying fungi is talking about them. It was fun to be on Fungi Town and it is a great resource with lots of interesting episodes to choose from!” – Dr. Matt Smith

Arthur Grupe from the University of Florida’s Plant Pathology Department

Arthur Grupe studied Botany at California State University at Humboldt before becoming interested in Mycology. His first experience was traveling with Dr. Terry Henkel to document the macrofungi and ectomycorrhizal (ECM) community of rare monodominant stands of ECM trees within the jungle forests of Guyana, S.A. From this experience, Arthur found a toothed fungus that Dr. Henkel had never seen in his 20+ years of fungal surveys. Arthur continued his education with a Master’s degree under Dr. Henkel documenting members of the genus Sarcodon from South America and the Caribbean (including his find in Guyana). After describing 8 species from his Master’s, Arthur began his Ph.D. with Dr. Matthew Smith at the University of Florida studying the pecan truffle system. His Ph.D. work involves both describing the biodiversity of fungi in commercial pecan orchards in the Southeast as well as applied research investigating how pecan farmers can co-crop both pecans and the pecan truffle. Arthur hopes to continue both applied and academic mycology in the future.

“Jen and Fungi Town are great at asking questions and making scientific research digestible and applicable to citizen scientists. Their show is a great way to focus on outreach for the mycological research community and a great way to connect with more citizen scientists that can help with academic mycology (because we need all the help we can get and can’t do it without the public).” – Arthur Grupe

Episode 06: The Orchid Underground

Melissa McCormick from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

Dr. McCormick’s ongoing projects spread across three focal areas. She is using population genetics to trace the spread of invasive Phragmites australis and to understand the impacts of eutrophication on Spartina alterniflora. In these projects, she and her collaborators are using patterns of microsatellite variation to understand the processes that drive species responses. She also has ongoing projects on orchid ecology in which she examines the effects of environmental conditions and the abundance and distribution of mycorrhizal fungi as drivers of orchid flowering and distribution. A third focal area for her research is trying to understand how bacteria that live within the hyphae of orchid mycorrhizal fungi affect fungal ability to form mycorrhizae. (adapted from SERC website)

Episode 05: Eco-Scrubbing Fungi

Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain

Mushroom Mountain first began in 1996, as a concept for a farm of the future. It wasn’t until 2005 when Tradd Cotter and Olga Katic met and began to develop the beginnings of what would become the coolest, privately owned mushroom research facilities. From humble beginnings, housing their laboratory in their two-bedroom apartment closet in Boynton Beach, Florida, Olga and Tradd moved their operation to the Upstate South Carolina to begin the expansion that would now become a world-class laboratory and research facility that occupies over 50,000 square feet of available space under roof for cultivation, mycoremediation, and medicinal research projects. The laboratory has been constructed to EPA and FDA standards and houses more than 200 species of fungi, most of them native isolates from the Eastern United States. (from Mushroom Mountain website)

Levon Durr of Fungaia Farm

Levon Durr is the owner of Fungaia Farm, a mushroom company in Eureka, CA, which produces spawn for food production and fungal remediation.  After learning about the mycoremediation and the health benefits of eating mushrooms, in 2011 Levon Durr started Fungaia Farm. Fungaia Farm teaches classes on mushroom cultivation and recently completed a successful mycoremediation project in Orleans, CA.

“It was great fun being interviewed for Fungi Town. The questions were engaging, lighthearted and generated a good discussion about the implementation and future of mycoremediation.” – Levon Durr

Episode 04: Lichen or Not

Frank Bungartz collecting lichens on a lava flow near Punta Pit, San Cristóbal

Dr. Frank Bungartz from Arizona State University and the Charles Darwin Foundation

Frank is the Collections Manager of Lichens and Digital Data at Arizona State University. His research focuses on biodiversity, evolution, ecology, and conservation of lichenized fungi. He worked intensively in the Greater Sonoran Desert Region (the southwestern USA & northwestern Mexico), in Central America (Mexico) and in South America (particularly the Galapagos Islands). Frank is a contributor and editor to the Lichen Flora of the Greater Sonoran Desert Region, a comprehensive treatment of all lichen species known from this region, published in three volumes from 2002-2007. In South America, Frank has also worked extensively for more than ten years on a species Inventory of Galapagos Lichens. Together with his collaborators, Frank discovered hundreds of new records from this archipelago, and as part of this research, more than 50 lichen species have so far been described new to science. Frank works on an illustrated, comprehensive guide to Galapagos lichens and an IUCN red-list of the lichens threatened there. Frank now manages the Consortium of North American Lichen Herbaria (CNALH), a biodiversity data portal for lichens from North America.

“Jen Parrilli’s ‘Fungi Town’ is a fascinating podcast for anyone interested in fungi. I was thrilled to share with her my enthusiasm for a large, diverse group: the lichens. Lichens are one of the many examples of how fungi closely live together with other organisms. With algae and/or cyanobacteria they establish a close-knit collaboration called the lichen symbiosis. Explaining this complex lifestyle of fungi is not an easy task, but Jen Parrilli breaks it down masterfully, explaining lichen research to a broad audience of listeners. I very much enjoyed being a guest on her podcast, being interviewed about the organisms that I love.” – Dr. Frank Bungartz

Episode 03: Beer!

Brian Roth of Southern Brewing Company

Brian Roth is the co-founder of The Southern Brewing Company. Brian started brewing back in 1993. Yeasts (single-celled fungi) are the backbone of the fermentation process and drive 75% of the character of beer. This led Brian on a quest to discover local wild yeasts in Athens, GA. Brian teamed up with Dr. Jeff Rapp, the Head of Microbiology at Athens Tech and they have collected more than 80 local yeasts to brew with. They are running genetic testing on a broad range of yeasts. These are currently stored at the University of Georgia in the microbiology and fermentation sciences lab. Southern Brewing Company currently uses a yeast captured from the state flower and wildflower.

David Thornton of Carolina Bauernhaus Ales & Southyeast Labs

David Thornton is a bioprocess engineer with 10 years experience in biofuels and brewery design. David has constructed 26 biodiesel and ethanol facilities worldwide and launched several brewery related businesses providing essential brewing ingredients to breweries in the southeast. Additionally, David coordinates the sustainable biofuels program at Clemson University and has taught the science of beer for over 3 years. (from Carolina Bauernhaus Ales website)

Kelsey Flick from the Walton County Health Department

Kelsey attended Georgia Southern University from August 2012-December 2014. At Georgia Southern University, she earned a Bachelor’s of Science Public Health, with a concentration in Health Education and Promotion. She completed many student projects to further her learning and experience in health. and was an active member of the Delta Phi Epsilon Sorority. She held multiple Leadership positions over the course of 2.5 years. this positions developed her people, customer service, and leadership skills. (adapted from LinkedIn)

Episode 02: How to ID Mushrooms

Alan Rockefeller

Alan Rockefeller of Mushroom Observer

Alan Rockefeller specializes in mushroom taxonomy. He has been collecting mushrooms for 17 years and has traveled to Mexico to collect mushrooms for the past 11 years. Alan is a network security expert, a moderator at the Shroomery Mushroom Hunting and Identification Forum, and posts all of his mushroom photographs on When he is not hunting mushrooms Alan spends his time looking at mushrooms under the microscope, soldering electronics, hacking Unix and sequencing mushroom DNA. (from Mushroom Observer website)

Episode 01: Welcome to Fungi Town

Kevin Frazier

Kevin Frazier of Sparta Mushrooms

Kevin is the Farm Manager at Sparta Mushrooms in Sparta, Georgia. He manages a crop of lion’s mane, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms, producing thousands of mushrooms every week. Their mushrooms are grown on hardwood sawdust, which is eventually recycled back into the environment.