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Register for the workshops here.


This year, in addition to Dianna, five knowledgeable guest mycologists will be leading a workshop. They include Noah Siegel, Robert Gergulics, Elinoar Shavit, Susan Goldhor and Gary Emberger. Sessions begin at 9:45 a.m. and end approximately 1:30 p.m. Bring your lunch and something to share for each session. We will provide unlimited coffee and tea.

Sunday, March 29, Dianna Smith: Evolution of Fungi: 5 Billion Years in the Making! Our understanding of the evolution of fungi and their complicated roles in fostering life on our planet is still in its infancy. Our club's chief mycologist has been studying the available scientific literature on this and related topics over a period of several years. Dianna aims to present you with The Big Picture illustrating the changing forms and functions of fungi and their interactions with plants and animals that have occurred over immense spans of time to the present. Dianna will introduce you to several important concepts that will serve as a foundation for getting the most out of the other workshops. You will never look at fungi the same way again!

Dianna Smith is PVMA's chief mycologist and is currently chair of the North American Mycological Association's (NAMA) Medicinal Mushroom Committee. She has written four essays on this topic published NAMA's peer-reviewed journal McIlvainea in 2018, 2019 and 2020. She is co-founder of the PVMA with club treasurer and former president Michael Ostrowski. She served as president of the Connecticut-Westchester Mycological Association (COMA) for several years and president of the Northeast Mycological Federation for three years. Hundreds of her fungi photographs have appeared in published field guides including Gary Lincoff's The Complete Mushroom Hunter; Michael Kuo's 100 Edible Mushrooms, and Michael Beug, Alan and Arleen Bessette's Ascomycete Fungi of North America.

Sunday, April 5, Noah Siegel: Chanterelles, Craterellus and Mycena: Oh My! Mycologist Noah Siegel will talk with us in the morning session about identifying features and clues to finding everyone's favorite edible fungi: chanterelles and the related trumpet-shaped species of Craterellus! Until quite recently most golden chanterelles were considered to be Cantharellus cibarius, a species native to Europe. Recent work has shown that we have a number of unique species in North America with particular morphological and ecological characteristics, as well as cryptic diversity in many of our charismatic chanterelle species. Noah will help us understand how to identify ones we are most likely to encounter in our region. Following lunch, he will introduce us to common species of Mycena that can be identified without using a microscope.

Noah's expert photographs have appeared on the covers and have been featured in articles of multiple issues of Fungi and Mushroom, the Journal of Wild Mushrooming (the primary mushroom enthusiast magazines in the United States), in numerous mushroom books, as well as many club publications. He authored, along with Christian Schwarz, Mushrooms of the Redwood Coasta Comprehensive Guide for the Northern California Coast. Noah travels and lectures throughout the world and extensively across America, following the mushrooms from coast to coast, and everywhere in between. 

Sunday, April 19, Elinoar Shavit: Fossilized Mushrooms in Amber and Copal: A Fantastic Journey.
Fossils of mushrooms are extremely rare, and less than a decade ago fewer than a handful were known to science. It is thus no wonder that these rare fossils are coveted by collectors and scientists alike. Fossilized mushrooms in amber and copal are also unique because they offer science an exceptional opportunity in the study of natural history and evolution: even when fossilized, they look life-like as they are suspended in the seldom clear or transparent amber material. When mushrooms fossilize in transparent and light-colored amber, their every detail can be seen. Their contents can be studied in minute detail by electron microscope or MRI imaging. As a both a mycologist and a professional gemologist, Elinoar has been in a unique position to spot, identify and collect rare pieces of fossilized and sub-fossilized mushrooms inside copal and amber, some over 25 million years old and others perhaps less than 10 thousand. In her talk, Elinoar will present some fascinating pieces from her one-of-a-kind collection, which has become famous when she published details about some of this unique collection in the April 2019 issue of Fungi (Vol. 11, No. 5).


Elinoar Shavit is an ethno-mycologist. She specializes in research regarding medicinal mushrooms, edible wild mushrooms, and ethno-mycology, particularly desert truffles and the preservation of the culture of the indigenous people who use them. Elinoar has published numerous articles, recently contributing chapters to Desert Truffles: Phylogeny, Physiology, Distribution and Domestication. She is past president of the New York Mycological Society, a contributing editor at Fungi on medicinal mushrooms and ethno-mycology, and past chairperson of the Medicinal Mushrooms Committee of the North American Mycological Association. Elinoar is also a professional gemologist, holding a graduate gemologist degree from the Gemological Institute of America, and she is a past member of the American Gem Trade Association.

Sunday, April 26, Robert Gergulics: Bolete Forensics. Robert will provide both new and experienced mycophiles with tips for identifying the various kinds of fungi in the family of boletes. We will look at the morphological features of boletes under the magnifier with the aim of seeing, understanding and learning the characteristic features of different bolete genera such as glandular dots, scabers, reticulation, raised ridges, color changes, staining, pores, and more. The lesson continues by comparing similar species of boletes side by side and examining their differences.

Robert has extensive experience as a field mycologist (specializing in boletes) seeking, photographing, and identifying mushrooms. He provides detailed photography work for professional mycologists and experts around the country. His photographs have won numerous awards and some appeared in the prominent European science publication Life & Science, as well as the domestic magazine Yankee. His work has been featured in multiple important field guides and reference books, such as Mushrooms of the Northeast and Boletes of Eastern North America, as well as various camping and survival books. Robert is the educational director for his club (Connecticut Valley Mycological Society), and is a current member of the Northeast Bolete Consortium. He runs the Connecticut MycoFlora Project. As part of “The 3 Foragers” family, Robert and his wife Karen write a wild foods blog and regularly travel around Connecticut teaching beginner's mushroom and wild edible plants ID courses. With some of Robert's input, Karen authored Adventures in Edible Plant Foraging (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015), which features Robert's photography throughout the book. 

Sunday, May 3, Susan Goldhor: Inter-Kingdom Dating or What’s the Fungal Hook Up App?  (Timber!)

Susan is a biologist, whose professional work has concentrated on animals, looking both at biochemistry and behavior. Being active in the Boston Mycological Club got her interested in fungi, and now she thinks of fungi zoologically: what do fungi need and how do they behave in order to get it? Learning about fungi got her interested in plants for the first time and it turns out that plants – like fungi – behave pretty rationally (that’s where they differ from humans). A lot of what’s happening in the ecosystem stems from plant-fungal interactions; i.e., dating behavior. Or, to put it more accurately, hooking up.


Susan is the president of the BMC, a title she’s held for ten years, since no one else wants the job. She’s been an occasional columnist for both Mushroom, the Journal of Wild Mushrooming and Fungi. (Spoiler Alert: She’s the rare person who’s invited to write and speak about fungi, but has very little interest in or knowledge of their fruiting bodies).  


Sunday, May 17, Gary Emberger: The Mycologist and the Trees. Although they are usually surrounded by trees, mushroomers may not always realize how helpful knowing the trees can be in identifying the mushrooms and other fungi they seek. Many fungi are in such tight parasitic, pathogenic, saprotrophic, or mutualistic relationships with specific trees that knowing the identity of the tree contributes greatly to identifying the fungus. Today’s presentation will discuss the basics of tree identification, how tree identification is similar to and different from mushroom identification and illustrate the importance of knowing the trees as an aid in identifying the fungi.


Gary Emberger taught mycology, plant taxonomy, medicinal botany, and other biology courses at Messiah College from 1981-2018. He maintains an active interest in the diversity of fungi that utilize the woody stems and roots of trees as a substrate and created the online identification guide “Fungi Growing on Wood” ( which includes keys, photographs, and descriptions of over 250 species of fungi typically found associated with wood. He completed a B.S. in biology at Pennsylvania State University and earned a M.S. and a Ph.D. in plant pathology at Pennsylvania State University and North Carolina State University, respectively. 

Spring 2020 Fungi Kingdom University

Workshop Descriptions

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