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Archive of Past MST Meetings

Meetings for 2023-2024

Speaker Series: Wednesday, October 11, 2023 7:30 p.m.

Speaker: Heather Hallen-Adams

Presentation: All About Amatoxins

Heather Hallen-Adams grew up in St. Paul, MN, received a BS in Plant Biology from the University of Minnesota and a PhD in Botany and Plant Pathology from Michigan State University, studying amatoxin-producing poisonous mushrooms. While at Michigan State for her PhD and postdocs she began consulting with MSU Veterinary Toxicology in mushroom poisoning cases, an association she continues to this day. Her postdocs continued the amatoxin work and expanded into the mycotoxin producing plant pathogen Fusarium graminearum. Since 2010 she has been the food mycologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she continues work on Fusarium as well as some amatoxin work in collaboration with Hong Luo at the Kunming Institute of Botany; she has also added research into fungi of the healthy human gut. She is the mushroom poisoning contact for the Nebraska Poison Center since 2010 and, since 2022, the Toxicology Chair for NAMA and the Treasurer for the Mycological Society of America. She is currently an Associate Professor of Practice. Heather is an author on 40 peer-reviewed publications, two book chapters, and two patents, and has supervised or co-advised four MS and three PhD students to date.


Speaker Series: Wednesday, November 22, 2023 7:30 p.m.

Presentation: MST Student Volunteers share their experience at the ROM Fungarium

Presenters: Chloe Baloh, Eli Guan, Nathaniel Russel, Simona Margaritescu

Please join us for an open forum gathering where our MST student volunteers share their experience at the ROM Fungarium. This evening will be free flowing and less formal, encouraging lots of audience interaction.


Speaker Series: Wednesday, April 3, 2024 7:30 p.m.

Speaker: Roy Halling

Presentation: Getting a grip on Boletes: from there to here

Mushrooms with spongy pores under the cap (boletes) are widespread around the globe and are well-known for their occurrence in both temperate and tropical forest habitats and woodlands. They can be quite large (well over a foot across) or very small (less than a half inch in diameter). Species recognition is often fairly straight forward while generic concepts have been subject to a north temperate bias due to historical precedence. Morphological diagnoses (both macro and micro) have been the primary bases for distinguishing one entity from another. With expanded access to, and increased exploration of under explored parts of the world, especially the southern hemisphere and the tropics, increased complexity and diversity of boletes has become evident. Also, with the recent development of techniques to analyze DNA, the testing of hypotheses on evolutionary relationships among morphologically based distinctions has come under scrutiny. Examples derived from an expanded biogeographic sampling and DNA testing illustrate the dissection of the original broad concepts of Boletus, Leccinum, and Tylopilus.

Roy Halling was born in Iowa and grew up in Southern California. He received his B.A. from California State University Stanislaus, his M.A. from San Francisco State University, and PhD from University of Massachusetts. A three-year post-doc at Harvard University’s Farlow Herbarium came about before his posting at the New York Botanical Garden. He is a Curator Emeritus of Mycology at the New York Botanical Garden, where he carried out research on the classification, systematics, biogeography, and diversity of mushrooms. Roy has been involved in exploration, inventory, and documentation of fungal diversity via field work around the world in northern and southern temperate zones as well as the neo- and paleotropics. Field efforts in these areas have added substantially to general knowledge on tropical and temperate fungi. Recently, explorations have emphasized surveys to document the diversity, evolutionary & mycorrhizal relationships, and distribution of the Boletineae (a suborder of porcini-like mushrooms). International collaboration with other specialists has been underway on systematics, biogeography and phylogeny of Bolete mushrooms with particular emphasis in Australia and SE Asia. He has authored or co-authored over 120 scientific publications. He has mentored undergraduate interns, honors students, and four PhD candidates. He served the mycological community as President of the Mycological Society of America, a society from which he received recognition as a Fellow of the MSA and as a Distinguished Mycologist.


Speaker Series: Wednesday, May 1, 2024 7:30 p.m.

Speaker: Mary Catherine Aime

Presentation: Introduction to Rust Fungi

In terms of species numbers and ubiquity, rust fungi are an incredibly successful lineage. Together, the more than 7000 described species form the largest known group of plant pathogens, while also having incredibly complex life cycles. This talk will explore the biology of these fascinating organisms and discuss the contributions that molecular systematics have made to our understanding of their evolution.

Cathie Aime is Professor of Mycology, Department of Botany & Plant Pathology and Director of the Arthur Fungarium and Kriebel Herbarium at Purdue University. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Biology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University under the guidance of Orson K. Miller, Jr., and conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Oxford under Lorna Casselton. Cathie’s research combines expeditionary field work and traditional approaches with molecular genetics and multi-omics approaches to understand fungal diversity and evolution. Areas of specialization include tropical basidiomycetes, systematics of early diverging basidiomycete lineages (including smuts and yeasts), evolution of rust fungi, and epidemiology of tropical tree diseases. Cathie is a past Managing Editor of the journal Mycologia and is currently President of the Mycological Society of America and Vice President of the International Commission on the Taxonomy of Fungi. Cathie is a fellow of the Mycological Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Explorer’s Club, and the Linnean Society of London

This meeting will be held online via Zoom
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Updated April 15th, 2024

Meetings for 2022-2023

Speaker Series: Tuesday, May 17, 2022 7:30 p.m.

Speaker: Kathy Vatcher

Presentation: The Tip of the Iceberg - Discoveries in the world of mycology and its important role in our past, present and future

Kathy Vatcher, an accomplished visual artist and educator, lives in Toronto but escapes the city as often as possible to hunt for wild mushrooms. She’s been studying them since joining the Mycological Society of Toronto a decade ago, though her interest began 35 years earlier. A frequent foray leader, she’s helped identify hundreds of species collected on dozens of forays and Bioblitzes. Yet she’s always eager to learn more from both mushroom experts and gifted amateurs. She’s taught mushroom identification at the Mycological Society of Toronto, The Kortright Centre for Conservation, Rouge National Park and for private corporations.

Mushrooms also pop up in her art. During the pandemic, she began creating unique decorative plates, many featuring fungi, that may be viewed at Tectonic Plates on Facebook. She also paints mushrooms, landscapes and portraits of pets and people. And recently she wrote Beatrix Potter Tells Her Tale, a play inspired by Potter’s challenges and contributions to mycology that she hopes to present in the future.

“The study of mycology has something for everyone. Anyone interested in the future of our planet should have an interest in mushrooms.” – Kathy Vatcher


Speaker Series: Tuesday, October 18, 2022 7:30 p.m.

Speaker: Loni Jean Ronnebaum (from Fungi Perfecti)

Presentation: BeeMushroomed, how Fungi can help give bees a chance

Paul Stamets and Fungi Perfecti, makers of Host Defense, have teamed up with Washington State University to study the effects of fungal extracts on bees. Together our efforts have raised over 5 million towards this important cause! We will discuss our past research, future plans and what, as individuals, we can do to give bees a chance.

Loni Jean Ronnebaum aka Ronnebaumanita loniscaria has long been passionate about fungi. She graduated from the Evergreen State College in 2009 with a BS in Mycology and Natural Sciences. In early 2010 she began working in the offices for Fungi Perfecti, presenting at many events around the great PNW. Loni enjoys playing Ukulele as well as drums for the band Inoculated Minds and photographing #googlyeyefungi in her free time. https://fungi.com/blogs/articles/meet-loni


Speaker Series: Tuesday, November 15, 2022 7:30 p.m.

Speaker: Diane Borsato

Presentation: Mushrooming: The Joy of the Quiet Hunt

Diane Borsato’s new book is a lavishly illustrated guide that explores the fascinating, the delicious, the deadly and the strange world of fungi from the forest to the field to the market - and how mushrooming can radically expand our perspectives, connect us to nature, and quietly enrich our lives.

Borsato will discuss several examples of fungi in contemporary art - and how artists use mushrooms to explore the unexpected wilderness of cities, what happens to our bodies after we die, and new ways for us to perceive the world and ourselves.

Mushrooming: The Joy of the Quiet Hunt, Diane Borsato, illustrated by Kelsey Oseid, 2022 Find the book anywhere books are sold in September 2022 in Canada. The book will be released in March 2023 in the US.

Diane Borsato completed an MFA at Concordia in Montreal, and an MA in Performance Studies at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She is an award-winning artist, educator and amateur mycologist and beekeeper - who works closely with other artists and amateur naturalists. She has performed and exhibited in Canada and internationally at venues including the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, the AGYU, the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, the Walter Philips Gallery at the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the National Art Centre Fogo Island Arts, the Creative Time Summit, and at the Toronto Biennial of Art. She has been twice nominated for the Sobey Art Award, and she won the prestigious Victor Martin-Lynch Staunton Award, in addition to numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for her work. Diane Borsato is also Associate Professor of Experimental Studio at the University of Guelph in Canada, where she teaches courses exploring live, site-responsive environmental art practices.

Her recent books include Outdoor School: Contemporary Environmental Art (2021) co-edited with Amish Morrell, and MUSHROOMING – A field guide to mushrooms and fungi in contemporary art - launching in Canada in the fall of 2022 and in the US in the spring of 2023. See her work at www.dianeborsato.net


Speaker Series: Wednesday February 8th, 2023 7:00 p.m.

Speaker: Simona Margaritescu – ROM Fungarium

Presentation: A Fungus’ Journey From Field to Fungarium

Location: 500 King Street W, Toronto – Patagonia Store

A unique collaboration between Patagonia Toronto and the interim director of the ROM Fungarium, Simona Margaritescu. Patagonia will be providing finger food and beverages.

An introduction to the TRTC Fungarium and the progression of a fungus from collection to curation and storage through stories, photographs and anecdotes.

Simona finished her Honors Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at University of Bucharest, Romania followed by a MSc degree in Genetics and Cell Biology at the same university. Before making Canada her home, she taught Plant Systematics in the Department of Botany at University of Bucharest. During that time, she organized and participated in many biodiversity fieldtrips. These trips piqued her interest in fungi so, after coming to Canada, she studied Penicillium molds in Dr. David Malloch’s laboratory at the University of Toronto. In 2004, she became the Mycology Technician at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM).

Her position at the ROM has two main facets. She manages the ROM’s Fungal Collection (TRTC Fungarium) and is responsible for the operations of the Molecular Mycology Research Laboratory. As the TRTC manager, Simona is responsible for maintaining, preparing, and identifying the fungal collections and handling loans and exchanges with other herbaria. In addition, she has been managing the electronic database associated with these collections.

Simona teaches specimen preparation techniques and data entry practices to casual staff, summer students and volunteers. She also responds to general inquiries about fungi, gives lectures, and guides tours in the ROM’s Fungal Collection.

Besides her collection management responsibilities, Simona directs the day-to-day running of the Molecular Mycology Research Laboratory and assists in fungal research projects by generating and analyzing molecular data obtained from various fungal species. She also teaches molecular laboratory techniques to graduate, undergraduate students, and visiting scholars.


Speaker Series: Wednesday, March 8, 2023 7:30 p.m.

Speaker: Dr. Shannon Nix

Presentation: The Great Escape

The spore dispersal strategies employed by mushroom-forming fungi are as diverse as the myriad types of fruiting bodies produced by these organisms. Join us as Dr. Shannon Nix discusses a few of these strategies, as well as some of the adaptations that fungi have evolved to ensure that their genes are successfully dispersed into the environment.

Dr. Shannon Nix is a fungal ecologist who received her B.S. from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Ph.D. from Rutgers University. Prior to becoming a tenured professor at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, Shannon studied the impacts of anthropogenic disturbance on fungal communities as a Fulbright Fellow at the Agricultural University of Norway and as a Post Doctoral Research Associate at the University of Georgia Experiment Station. During her career as a professor at Clarion and George Mason universities, she taught undergraduate and graduate-level courses in mycology, botany, microbiology and environmental science. Now retired from higher education, Shannon regularly gives invited talks and workshops for local and regional mushroom clubs and pursues research with local collaborators and academic colleagues. Shannon is passionate about education and raising awareness of the role that fungi play in the environment and our lives.


Speaker Series: Wednesday, April 19, 2023 7:30 p.m.

Speaker: Sara Scharf

Presentation: The History of Field Guides

Sara Scharf received her doctorate in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology from the University of Toronto in 2007. Her research focused on the origins and development of field guides in 18th century botany, more precisely, the coalescence of information management techniques that allow people to look things up when they do not know what those things are called. She worked in a variety of fields before landing in cybersecurity, though she also moonlights as an academic editor. Dr. Scharf lives in Toronto with a variety of plants, fish, and reptiles. She has been a member of the Mycological Society of Toronto on and off since the 1990s.


Updated March 8th, 2023

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