ASBS Nancy T. Burbidge Lecture

ASBS Nancy T. Burbidge Lecture

Tom MayRoom 1: Cinema

Dr Tom May | Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria

Four decades among fungi – perspectives of an accidental mycologist

I have been fortunate to work in a fungarium (reference collection of fungi) for much of the last four decades. I trace how my interest in population genetics morphed into a career in mycology, inspired by the simple question “what fungus is that?”. I explore the step changes in mycology that I have participated in around nomenclature, bioinformatics, DNA barcoding, conservation and ecology. I emphasise the importance of the re-conceptuliasation of fungi from “lower plants” to kingdom Fungi and why fungi-specific language (such as fungarium and sporing body) matters. I highlight the critical role of citizen science in advancing mycology in Australia. I stress the importance of collections and name infrastructure for taxonomic and systematic research on fungi. I have participated in the founding of organisations including the Australasian Mycological Society, Fungimap and Taxonomy Australia and I discuss the challenges around effectively connecting in an under-resourced sector. I take inspiration from the myriad interconnections between fungi and other organisms to underline the importance of mentoring and networking in tackling the task to describe all Australian fungi. I conclude by discussing opportunities for scientists to communicate their research and engage in discussions on pressing issues around habitat protection and the climate emergency.

Tom is a Principal Research Scientist in Mycology at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria where has worked for more than 30 years on the taxonomy, ecology and conservation of macrofungi, including coordinating the Australian National Species List for Fungi. Tom has been active in founding and supporting community and professional organisations including Fungimap and the Australasian Mycological Society, and is currently Deputy Chair of Taxonomy Australia and Secretary of the Nomenclature Committee for Fungi.  Tom May:
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Mon 6:12 am - 12:00 am
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