I will be teaching Coastal and Marine Mycology, a summer field course for undergraduate students, at the Chincoteague Bay Field Station this summer, from June 30th – July 19th. Registration is now open!

I’ve created an FAQ sheet below to help provide more details about the course! 

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me at cws1241@lockhaven.edu

What is Coastal and Marine Mycology all about? 

This course will explore the diversity, ecology and evolution of coastal and marine fungal species. Marine fungi are an understudied and under-appreciated group of organisms. Like many microorganisms, marine fungi play integral roles in ecology and biogeochemistry in coastal and ocean ecosystems. These fungi can be found anywhere from beach sand to marine sponges. Through this course, students will gain an understanding and appreciation for the diversity of fungi thriving in the maritime forests, estuaries, salt marshes, eelgrass beds and the coastal waters of Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

The focus of this class is to survey the fungal diversity of near-pristine coastal and marine ecosystems in coastal Virginia. There is very little known about fungal diversity in these areas. As a class, we will work to create and publish species lists with real-world implications in the discovery, documentation and conservation of fungi.

And the best part? You don’t need a background in mycology to succeed in this class!

You can find even more information about the course here: http://www.cbfieldstation.org/2019-mycology.html

Why should I take Coastal and Marine Mycology? 

You will have access to a variety of incredible locations, including the Assateague Island National Seashore, the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, and the Wallops Island National Wildlife Refuge, just to name a few!

You will build skills in: microscopy, identification of microscopic fungi, mushroom identification, mycological sampling and culturing techniques (on land and in the water!), preparation and execution of field work, etc.

You will learn all about the barrier island ecosystems of the eastern shore of Virginia and the role fungi have played in helping shape them.

Start the registration process here: https://msconsortium.wufoo.com/forms/qvktmu60zbk6nt/

 

How do I know if I’m eligible to take this course?

This course is open to ALL undergraduate college students. While this course is being offered by Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania at the field station, you DO NOT need to be a Lock Haven student to take it. The ONLY prerequisites are a C or better in an introductory college biology course. You do not need to be a microbiologist or mycologist-in-the-making to take (and enjoy) this course!

 

What (and where) is the Chincoteague Bay Field Station?

The Chincoteague Bay Field Station (CBFS) (http://www.cbfieldstation.org/) has been creating educational and research opportunities in marine science for students of all ages for 50 years! It is located in Wallops Island, VA, just down the road from Chincoteague Island. A consortium of Pennsylvania universities run 3-week courses each summer at the field station in a variety of marine science disciplines.

The CBFS is fully equipped with up-to-date classrooms and technology, student housing, and a cafeteria. Housing and most meals are built into the cost of room and board for a 3-week session (see below). Courses also have access to various boats and kayaks for exploring the estuarine and oceanic ecosystems around Chincoteague.

Courses at the CBFS are built around undergradute education and research. This means you will not be competing for resources with graduate students or faculty researchers. The resources available at the CBFS are for YOUR use!

Summer courses at the CBFS provide hands-on, incredible field experiences at a competitive price (see below).

 

So, what’s the cost?

The standard field course fees through the CBFS are listed here: http://www.cbfieldstation.org/fees.html

These fees include use of facilities (dorms), as well as most meals (Sunday dinner – Friday Lunch) during your three weeks at the field station. You may opt to live in the newer dorms (with air conditioning) for $1070 or the traditional dorms for $970. 

Because summer courses at CBFS are run through a consortium of Pennsylvania state universities, the tuition and fees you pay for these courses is based on whether you are considered in-state or out-of-state for a Pennsylvania university:

In-state tuition and fees for Coastal and Marine Mycology: $1263.15 

Out-of-state tuition and fees for Coastal and Marine Mycology: $1389.75 

So, when you add it all together… 

To total cost for in-state (Pennsylvania resident) students should range from $2233.15 – $2333.15**

The total cost for out-of-state (non-PA resident) students should range from $2359.75 – $2459.75** 

**These prices are estimates and vary based on room and board selections or other factors. 

Are you hooked? You can start the registration process here: https://msconsortium.wufoo.com/forms/qvktmu60zbk6nt/

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at cws1241@lockhaven.edu

 

MarineMyco4

When you work with fungi, it’s hard to ignore just how prevalent they are in our lives. Bread, beer, cheese, wine, and even the “good” fungi that help our crops grow, show that our society couldn’t function without this kingdom of life. But what fungi giveth, fungi can also taketh away. In fact, fungi are the #1 cause of plant diseases throughout the world. These fungal plant diseases can have major impacts on society.

Although they are both interesting and important, I am not going to talk about fungal plant diseases today. Fungi can also have major, negative impacts on wildlife populations. In fact, because of fungi, we have seen some of the largest wildlife die-offs ever recorded. I want to introduce you to a few of them here:

Read the rest of this post here

If you’ve been following along with my “Sea turtle egg fusariosis” campaign for the last 2 weeks, you’ve heard a lot about Fusarium infecting sea turtle eggs.

But, what is Fusarium exactly? We know it’s a fungus, but does it do anything other than infect sea turtle eggs?

Of course it does! Here are a few fantastic facts about Fusarium to make your #FungalFriday complete!

Read the rest of this post here

51% funded! What an exciting first week-and-a-half it has been!

I’ve been overwhelmed by the support thus far, thank you to all those who have donated and shared information about my project….

Read the rest of this post here!

As I began planning this project, one of the most challenging questions I faced was “how am I going to choose where to sample?”. As it turns out, picking a state was easy. 90% of the Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) nesting in the United States occurs in Florida. Attempting to narrow down where in Florida I might try to sample, I stumbled across NOAA’s (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS). ..

 

Read the rest of this post here

Check out the first lab note from my experiment.com campaign here.

The last 2 months have been extremely busy, yet incredibly rewarding. After a long semester of planning, the onset of spring weather (finally) allotted me the chance to implement some outreach events!

Outreach, I believe, is a fundamental part of being a scientist that is just as important as publishing research. After much success with the events listed below, I am certainly looking forward to planning and executing more outreach events in the months (and years) to come.

STEM Career Launch – Penn State Harrisburg

On March 9th, I travelled to one of Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses, Penn State Harrisburg, to participate in a STEM Career Launch for approximately 120 9th grade students. This program was organized by the Office of Multicultural Recruitment and Community Affairs.

Dr. Kari Peter and I lead sessions discussing plant diseases, the roles and duties of a plant pathologist, the path to our current careers, as well as some fun plant pathogen-related activities (courtesy of the American Society for Phytopathology k-12 outreach website).

But if that didn’t sell the students on how dynamic plant pathology, as a discipline, can be, we also had some moldy apples and fungal cultures for them to look at under a dissecting microscope!

You can check out the press release about my involvement in the event here.

Earth Day Birthday – Millbrook Marsh 

Millbrook Marsh Nature Center is a 62-acre land area maintained through the Centre Regional Recreation Authority and consisting of several habitat types, most of which is riparian wetland and calcareous fen.

On April 17th, Millbrook held their annual Earth Day Birthday Event, complete with wildlife and educational exhibits as well as fun activities for families in and around Centre County.

Penn State Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology prepared an exhibit of fungal cultures, microscopes, informational pamphlets and, of course, oyster mushrooms from our mushroom research center.

Over 500 people attended Earth Day Birthday this year, many of which stopped by to learn about the wonderful world of fungi and the plant disease woes that farmers must deal with all the time. Unsurprisingly, the kids loved the microscopes, but I think I got through to a few adults as well about the incredible fungal world around us.

Quote of the day: “That’s the most disgusting and fantastic thing I’ve ever seen” – a 10 year old child after running up to the microscopes.

Check out the press release here.

Penn State Plant Sciences Recruitment Day 

Last but not least in this outreach marathon was the Plant Sciences Recruitment Day, organized by the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State.

We hosted approximately 50 students from 2 Philadelphia high schools and lead 4 plant pathology sessions. Each session involved a 10 minute talk on plant diseases and their impact on the past, present and future, followed by three interactive stations: 1) fungal microscopy; 2) diagnosing plant diseases; and 3) mushroom cultivation and technology.

Along with plant pathology, students were given the opportunity to learn about arboriculture, landscape design and hydroponics.

Despite our general game plan, each session was very different, with every group of students bringing a variety of personalities, interests and questions. Hopefully we convinced a few students that plant pathology is an excellent career choice!

Check out the press release here.