2021 Monthly Meetings

When: Meeting are held on one or two Thursday evening a month, March through October. Check individual listings for date.
The November business meeting will be held on the second to last Thursday of the month for members only.
Time: Check individual listings for meeting times; 7:00 PM if not otherwise listed.

2021 Meeting Schedule
Date Speaker - Topic - Bio
March 25

Suzie Berryhill
Topic: Introduction to Mushrooms

This beginners’ presentation will cover the basics of fungi including ecology, anatomy, taxonomy, and common fungi in WNC. Those more familiar with these topics are welcome to join and answer questions at the end of the presentation.

Bio: Suzie Berryhill is a high school science teacher who fell in love with mushrooms during a mycology field course at Highlands Biological Station taught by Andy Methven. She is still surprised when Andy knows her name! Suzie has a B.S. in molecular biology and biochemistry and an M.A.T. in secondary biology both from Western Carolina University. She taught college biology at Southwestern Community College for seven years. Her favorite classes to teach involve fungi.

April 29 Else Vellinga
Topic: Fascinating Spores

This presentation will focus on spores, their role in the life of a mushroom, and on correlations between spore characters and lifestyle, with an emphasis on all the things that we don’t know!

Bio: Else Vellinga is a mycologist who is interested in naming and classifying mushroom species in California and beyond, especially Parasol mushrooms. She has described 22 species of mushrooms as new for California and, most recently, works at the herbaria at UC Berkeley and SFSU for the Macrofungi and Microfungi Collections Digitization projects. She got her training at the national herbarium in the Netherlands and her PhD at the University of Leiden. Her main goal is to contribute to the conservation of mushroom species, and for that reason she has proposed several species for the IUCN global database of endangered species. She tries to keep current with the mushroom literature and is active in the FunDiS conservation working group. She is the 2019 recipient of the North American Mycological Association's Lincoff Award for Contributions to Amateur Mycology in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the advancement of amateur mycology. Else is also an avid knitter and likes to use mushroom-dyed yarn for her creations.
May 27 Meredith Leigh
Topic: Preserving with Koji.

Author and fermenter Meredith Leigh will present on the role of fungi in food fermentation with a focus on the mold Aspergillus oryzae or koji. Koji is traditionally used in the preparation of foods such as miso, shōyu (soy sauce), and sake, but it is experiencing a renaissance worldwide in modern kitchens—allowing cooks to go beyond what was formerly thought possible in terms of flavor, food safety, and preservation. The talk will include a short demo of how to grow koji as well as some examples of using both the mold and its secondary ferments in a variety of ways.

Bio: Meredith Leigh is an author, fermenter and consultant. She ferments as a form of delicious resistance and offers in-person and online consulting across the food supply chain, from production to processing and cooking. She is the author of The Ethical Meat Handbook: Mindful Meat Eating for the Modern Omnivore and Pure Charcuterie: The Craft and Poetry of Curing Meat at Home. She is also the co-founder of The Fermentation School, an online learning and teaching community celebrating fermentation as a transformational force not only for food, but for the planet and people. She lives in Asheville, NC with her partner and four kids.
June 24 Luke Smithson
Topic: Polypores

Polypores are a diverse and exciting group of fungi that can keep us busy collecting and identifying all year round. This talk will focus on the fundamentals of identifying polypores using field characteristics as well as home techniques. We will cover the basics of polypore taxonomy and ecology, then discuss proper collecting techniques, characteristics, and resources to help with identification. 

Bio: Luke Smithson is the past president of the New Jersey Mycological Association (NJMA) and active with both NJMA and the Philadelphia Mycology Club. He is the current Education Chair for NJMA, where he hosts weekly online taxonomy discussion groups. He leads an ongoing fungal survey in Philadelphia with the goal of comparing modern fungal diversity with historical fungal checklists. While polypores are his favorite taxa to work with, he enjoys all aspects of field identification as well as foraging for edibles and digging into historical mycological literature.
July 29 Brian Lovett
Topic: The Zombie Insect Apocalypse

Insect-killing fungi are a source of endless fascination. Perhaps you’ve heard of zombie ants, but have you heard of zombie flies, cicadas, or beetles? These diverse fungi have inspired foundational scientific theories, and their strategies to overtake insects have led to medical breakthroughs. This presentation will explore the diverse lifestyles of these fungi.

Bio: Brian Lovett is a postdoctoral researcher at the Division of Plant and Soil Sciences at West Virginia University, working on entomopathogenic fungi and biotechnology. He has contributed to the advancement of transgenic mosquito-killing fungi for malaria prevention.
August 19 Brandon Matheny
Topic: A Systematic Overview of North American Inocybaceae
Time: 6:30 pm

The Inocybaceae is an ectomycorrhizal family of mushroom-forming fungi with some 1000 species worldwide. Seven genera are now recognized in the family, but the last revision of North American taxa in the group took place nearly 100 years ago. Since this time the number of known species in North America has tripled, and various estimates put the number of species in the family from this area between 300-400. This overview will present an introduction to the family Inocybaceae, some evolutionary and ecological background, and showcase recent systematic developments in the group.

Bio: Brandon Matheny is originally from Oklahoma where he earned a BA in history at Oklahoma State University. After a move to Seattle, Washington, Brandon caught the mushroom bug and got heavily involved with the Puget Sound Mycological Society for several years before being admitted to the botany graduate program at the University of Washington. In 2003 Brandon got his PhD in fungal systematics, did a postdoc at Clark University for five years, then was appointed as an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee in 2008 with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Now Brandon is a full professor and curator of fungi for the Tennessee herbarium, serves as executive editor at Mycologia, and coordinates the affairs of some 50 graduate students in his department.

His group’s research interests include fungal systematics, diversification, and taxonomy of mushroom-forming fungi, and they do a lot of field work! Currently, Brandon has an NSF grant to revise the systematics of North American Inocybaceae.
August 26 Taylor Fairbrother
Topic: Magnificent Mycelium: A deeper look into the symbiotic relationship between Plants and Fungi.

Fungi and plants have been allies for millions of years! Learn about the fascinating relationship between these organisms, and how to harness this ancient symbiosis to enrich green landscapes at any scale. We will explore the use of mycorrhizal fungi, gardening with edible mushrooms, and how fungal sugars may benefit bees.

Taylor Fairbrother obtained her B.A. from the University of Minnesota-Duluth where she majored in Communications and minored in Environmental Science and Sustainability. She currently works at Fungi Perfecti, based out of Olympia Washington, as Assistant Retail Office Manager/Education & Outreach.

She loves animals and nature and hopes to pursue a future and career aimed at reinforcing compassionate, informed action to protect and enrich our environment, and promote ecological sustainability and symbiosis along with the ethical consideration of all living things.

September 16 Judy Jacob
Topic: Lichens-Biofilms-Marble
Time 6:30 pm

Eroded marble surfaces teem with robust communities of algae, bacteria, and fungi.  These communities are viewed variously as aesthetic disfigurements or enhancements.  This presentation provides an overview of the surface ecology of marble and relationships between marble, lichens, biofilms, and weathering; it also will address the question of whether these communities contribute to the deterioration of marble or serve to protect it.

Judy Jacob is Senior Conservator with the Northeast Region of the National Park Service, working primarily on marble monuments and buildings.  Since 2009, she has co-taught “Lichens, Biofilms, and Stone” at the Eagle Hill Institute in Steuben, Maine.  Jacob received an MS in Historic Preservation from Columbia University and a post-graduate fellowship for UNESCO’s 9th International Course on Stone Conservation in Venice. She is based in New York City.
October 21 Mike Hopping
Topic: Mushroom Photography
Time: 6:30 PM

Bio: Mike Hopping didn't develop an interest in mushrooms until a big morel score in 2011 whispered that the woods weren't done surprising him. That summer he joined the Asheville Mushroom Club, pestered Charlotte Caplan without mercy, and it was all downhill from there. For five years he worked on the foray committee, successfully evaded elected office, and began work on Mushrooms of the Carolinas with Alan and Arleen Bessette. It was published in 2018. That same year, at the instigation of Sheila Dunn, he and Charlotte launched the Asheville Mushroom Club ID Group to assist a new generation of mushroom identifiers in developing themselves.

November 18 Annual Business Meeting. Current members only, no speaker.
Time: 6:30 PM