International Women’s Day: Female Mycologists and Mycophiles Making a Difference
In recognition of International Women’s day we highlight females in the world of mushrooms and fungi who have pioneered the study of them or changed how we think about them in our daily lives. We profile Suzanne Simard, Eugenia Bone, Long Litt Woon, and other crucial names from the Fantastic Fungi family.
Ecologist Suzanne Simard discovered that trees sent each other nutrients via a network of latticed fungi in the soil. Simard pioneered research into “forest wisdom” and “mother trees,” uncovering how trees communicate their needs, send environmental warnings, look for kin, and share nutrients through the mycelium network. Simard has helped change the way that scientists look at these cooperative systems. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Simard said, “To me, using the language of ‘communication’ made more sense because we were looking at not just resource transfers, but things like defense signaling and kin recognition signaling. We as human beings can relate to this better. If we can relate to it, then we’re going to care about it more. If we care about it more, then we’re going to do a better job of stewarding our landscapes.”
Eugenia Bone examines the role of fungi through the lens of mycology. Her published works demonstrate the exotic nature of fungi as food, the many ways fungi can be used medicinally, and the abundance of health benefits in vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting properties. Bone encourages the community to continue research and ultimately gain a greater understanding of fungi to help us face new challenges in the 21st century. Bone uses her foodie background along with science and culture to explore mycology and its impact on many organisms in nature.
LONG LITT WOON
Malaysian-born anthropologist who discovered mycology after the death of her husband. “Mushrooming was not something I would have been drawn to, no. It’s too quiet, too slow. I was a consultant and ran my own company. I was very efficient, always go, go, go. But then (my husband) Eiolf died suddenly and everything changed,” says Woon. Woon crafted a memoir, The Way Through the Woods: Of Mushrooms and Mourning, which runs a narrative course between memories of her husband and the grieving process right alongside of her journey into foraging and the adventure of discovering the world of mushrooms.
Founder and CEO of Fungi Foundation, Furci has been the biggest promoter of the study and protection of the Fungi Kingdom in Chile. Furci is the first female mycologist of non-lichenized mushrooms in Chile. Under her leadership, Chile became the first country in the world to include the Fungi Kingdom in its environmental legislation, thus allowing Chilean funga to be included in the study and evaluation of environmental impacts throughout the country, through its incorporation into the Law of General Bases of the Environment, also mandating its incorporation into the national inventory of species, among other obligations.