Budding Mycologists

Mycology — the scientific name for the study of fungi — has no single home on campus. Instead, fungal researchers are spread across nearly every college and school. Although this organization extends the reach of fungal science, it makes community building more challenging.

Enter the Budding Mycologists, a new graduate student group formed in the last year. The group, a pun on the way yeasts reproduce by budding, brings together students from across campus to chat about lab work and unwind with likeminded scientists.

A former graduate student working in the lab of biomolecular chemistry and medical microbiology and immunology professor Christina Hull started the group when the pandemic shuttered typical opportunities for socializing. Megan McKeon, a graduate student studying genetics, and Anna Frerichs, an Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB) graduate student, took over organizing the group when the founder graduated. In some ways it mirrors the Fungal Biology Supergroup, a seminar series that organizes meetings among most of the fungal labs spread across campus. But Budding Mycologists is focused on the unique needs and interests of researchers just starting their fungal studies.

Scientists often wear different hats, says Frerichs. There’s a hat for your field, your department, your lab or the organism you study. By identifying a common fascination with fungi, the student group helps add to that wardrobe.

Budding Mycologists “is trying to build that community by saying we also have a little mycologist hat,” Frerichs says.

This post is an excerpt from a story by Eric Hamilton about mycology research at UW-Madison. Read more here.