selection of mushrooms and fungi collected and identified at an IMA survey.

Our Mission:

To promote mycology as an avocation.

The Illinois Mycological Association is a group of fungal enthusiasts that meets frequently to learn about fungi through talks presented by experts, and to look for, identify and document fungi such as mushrooms. We have monthly meetings with invited speakers. There are special events, such as our workshops, annual show, and annual banquet.


During the mushroom season (mid-April to early November) the IMA conducts frequent surveys. These are most often in the Chicago region, but are sometimes further afield and may include weekend trips. We gather at a predetermined site and venture into the woods to collect samples of fungi (and gather edibles where permitted). We return to our meeting point to look over our fungi for identification and discussion.

Education and Fun

Meet people who share your interests and expand your knowledge of mycology. As a result, you may add new edibles to the ones you normally hunt, learn new tips, and add to your circle of fungal friends. Our programs and other events will expand your understanding of the Kingdom of Fungi. They are really unlike plants and animals, having their own lifestyles as decomposers, mutualists, or parasites.

Join Us

Our Team of Officers and Volunteers

Headshot of IMA president Matthew Nelson

Matthew Nelsen


Matt serves on the Board as President, chairing the Board meetings and helping with announcements at the monthly general meetings. He is a Research Scientist at the Field Museum, and his work seeks to document and characterize the diversity and evolution of a wide range of fungal lineages and symbioses.

Kate Golembiewski

Kate Golembiewski


Kate is a science writer from Chicago, and her whole deal is making science fun and accessible for everyone. In addition to her work writing about research at the Field Museum, she writes as a freelancer for outlets including the New York Times, CNN, Discover Magazine, and Atlas Obscura. You can follow her work at Kate is excited to find creative ways to put the “fun” back in fungi for IMA members, as well as people who don’t know that they want to be members yet.

Headshot of IMA survey leader Lorinda Sues

Lorinda Sues


Lorinda is the IMA treasurer and manages memberships. She has been active with the Illinois Mycological Association for 10 years, is the past survey chair, and is also a volunteer with the Field Museum Herbarium.

IMA secretary Sierra Plato

Sierra Plato


Sierra Plato is a North Carolina native with a unique spin on being “outdoorsy” as she embraces the joy derived from the creative and magnificent world of mushrooming. Sierra developed a passion for the fungal kingdom after first learning about the medicinal benefits of mushrooms such as reishi and lion’s mane. Lover of the fungal kingdom, pine cones, and the sun, Sierra keeps a rhythmic flow from the hiking trails to her duties as IMA’s Secretary.

Liz Weinstein


Liz is responsible for planning, coordinating, and guiding IMA surveys. She has been active with the Illinois Mycological Association for 5 years, is also a member of the Wisconsin Mycological Society, is the Photographer on the Visual Arts Committee for NAMA, and is a volunteer with the Field Museum Herbarium. She was selected as a 2023 Isle Royale Artist-in-Residence, where she photographed, surveyed, and documented mushrooms and fungi of the island’s unique biota. You can check out her daily fungi photos on Instagram at @mushroomphotography.


Stephanie Kowalyk, Editor
Produce and distribute the monthly newsletter and other email notices to members.

Lorinda Sues, Lead
Maintain membership records.

Erin LaRocque and Sarah Rooney
Manage website, post monthly programs and other events. 

Patrick Leacock, PhD
Gregory Mueller, PhD
Assist the IMA with scientific and educational activities, including the Annual Show. Identify and curate fungi from surveys.

Crystal McAllister,
Lead Citizen Science program of mushroom monitoring at DuPage County Forest Preserves.