Shooting Spores: Understand the Physics of the Most Amazing Tiny Apparatuses on Earth with Anne Pringle, PhD

Fungi use spores to move between habitats and spore dispersal is critical to their success. Fungi use an astonishing array of apparatuses and strategies to move their progeny: sacs filled with fluid that explode like water balloons, collapsing drops of liquid, and winds created by the cooperative release of hundreds of thousands of their spores. Fungi may even sense impending thunderstorms and use their updrafts to disperse longer distances. I’ll talk about all of this amazing biology and try and convince you that fungi actively manipulate the fates of their spores, a contrast to the perception of spore release as entirely passive.

Anne Pringle was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and spent her childhood traveling through Southeast Asia and West Africa. After being dragged along on one-too-many birding expeditions, she abandoned the birds for fungi. She was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, and then completed a Ph.D. in Botany and Genetics at Duke University. After completing a Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, she joined the faculty at Harvard University. She next moved to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she is now Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Departments of Botany and Bacteriology.

She has been awarded the Alexopoulos Prize for a Distinguished Early Career Mycologist (2010), the Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award from the Harvard University Graduate Student Council (2011), the Fannie Cox Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching from Harvard University (2013), and a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship (2011-2012).

If you have any questions, please contact Catherine Lambrecht at 847-432-8209 or

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Catherine Lambrecht

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