June 1st Program – My First Year as the Fungal Collections Manager at the Field Museum with Todd Widhelm Ph.D.

Presented via Zoom virtual meeting. Due to COVID-19 this event cannot be held at Niles Historical & Cultural Center. Members receive an IMA email program announcement including how to join this meeting. For more information, please contact the Illinois Mycological Association at 847.432.8209 or illinoismyco@gmail.com

I grew up in North Bend, Nebraska, and I’ve had a passion for science and nature that started when I used to go on hikes in the flood plain forests along the Platte River. During my undergraduate degree, I worked as a biological technician in the Nebraska Sand Hills and the Iowa Loess Hills. But near the end of my undergraduate program, I became especially interested in lichens when I took Robert Egan’s lichenology class at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. After intensive studying and hard work at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (M.S. with Robert Egan) and the University of Illinois at Chicago (Ph.D. with Roberta Mason-Gamer and Thorsten Lumbsch), I graduated and then became a Collection Manager at the Field Museum in February 2019. In this position, I enjoy delving into different projects everyday. The most important project is the management of the Fungal Herbarium where I supervise a team that helps with the digitization of specimens. I also conduct fieldwork that brings in new specimens from all over the world and conduct phylogenomic and population genomic research on lichens.

In this talk, I will focus on what I accomplished in my first year as Collection Manager at the Field Museum. My talk will begin with a virtual tour of the Fungal Herbarium and provide the most up-to-date statistics on the fungal collections at the Field Museum. I will introduce my team and current activities and discuss how we are dealing with the COVID-19 lockdown. I will also talk about a recent trip to Madagascar, where I joined Steve Goodman, the Field Museum’s Field Biologist, to teach lichenology to students and professionals at Ambohitantely and Ankarana Special Reserves, and at the University of Antananarivo. I will finish the presentation by discussing some of my current research on the lichenized fungus Pseudocyphellaria glabra which occurs in Australia, New Zealand, and Southern South America. The populations of P. glabra are separated by large bodies of water and is a perfect system to study whether vicariance or long-distance dispersal is causing this lichen to have a disjunct range. I collected hundreds of specimens of P. glabra from throughout its range and will show the population genomic results.

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If you have any questions, please contact Catherine Lambrecht at 847-432-8209 or cal60035@sbcglobal.net

Fee: $5 for visitors. IMA annual membership is $20 for individuals and $25 for families.

Contact Person

1) Events Chair
Catherine Lambrecht

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