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Awards and Personalia
IMA Fungus volume 6, pages51–55(2015)
The Gordon and Tina Wasson Award
This new award of the Mycological Society of America (MSA) recognizes people with non-traditional academic backgrounds who have made outstanding contributions to the field of mycology, or who have widely transmitted significant scientific or aesthetic knowledge about fungi to the general public. The award is named in honour of investment banker Robert Gordon Wasson (1898 – 1986) and his Russian wife Valentina Pavlovna Guercken (1901–1958). Together they published Mushrooms, Russia and History (1957), and amongst later works his Soma: divine mushroom of immortality (1968) is especially sought-after. Wasson is widely regarded as a founder of ethnomycology, and his investigations into mycolatry, and the traditional uses of neurotropic mushrooms, not least Psilocybe species in Central America.
Nominees for the award are judged on the basis of the impact and quality of their contributions and on their sustained commitment to the field of mycology.
The first award was presented to Paul Stamets, who founded Fungi Perfecti LLC in 1980, by MSA Past-President D Jean Lodge on 29 July 2015 during the MSA meeting in Edmonton, Canada. Located in Olympia, Washington State, Fungi Perfecti has grown to supply diverse mushrooms and mushroom related products worldwide (https://doi.org/www.fungi.com/). Paul has also been involved in the discovery of beneficial medicinal attributes of various mushrooms, on which he holds several patents. Through his numerous publications, courses, and lectures, Paul has made an immense contribution to raising public awareness of not only their nutritional and medical benefits, but of their importance in the maintenance of the environment — not least through his inspiring Mycelium Running: how mushrooms can help save the world (2005). His work was recognized by the award of an honorary DSc by the The National College of Natural Medicine, Portland (OR), and it is pleasing to see him now also honoured by his mycological peers. We wish him well in his future campaigning on behalf of the fungi, aware that, as he observed in accepting the award: “We walk this mycelial path of life together but time is critically short for us to make a difference” (Inoculum 66 (5): 27 Sept. 2015).
Katharina Bickerich-Stoll centenarian
Katharina Bickerich-Stoll, author of popular mushroom identification books, enjoyed her 100th birthday in her garden in PotsdamRehbrücke, Germany, on 24 June 2015. Katharina lived in the former East Germany (GDR) writing and illustrating her books with her own drawings. Her main text was first published with 60 of her coloured drawings (Bickerich-Stoll 1960) and ran to five editions, the last and fifth being issued in 1970. Others followed in 1980 (Bickerich-Stoll 1980, reprinted 1990) and 1981 (Bickerich-Stoll & Gottschlich 1981, second edition 1986). Her works have become documents of part of a contemporary history of achievements made under difficult conditions. Her books surely inspired those who could obtain copies to forage for mushrooms to supplement their diets under the harsh regime of the times.
René K. Schumacher kindly drew this event to our attention and provided the photographs.
Andreas Bresinsky’s 80th
The mycologist and botanist Andreas Bresinsky, emeritus professor of Botany at the University of Regensburg, turned 80 on 19 January 2015. He was born in 1935 in Reval (now Tallinn, Estonia), and after World War II came to Augsburg (Germany) and later to Munich. In Munich he studied biology, chemistry, and soil science from 1954, supervised by Karl Mägdefrau (1907–1999), and was habilitated at the early age of 29. In 1973 he accepted an appointment as professor at the new University of Regensburg, where he held the chair in Botany II for nearly 30 years. During this period he established a mycological working group with different foci, including systematics, chemistry, ecology, and physiology. At the beginning of the new millenium he retired, when a major tribute to his achievements was prepared (Besl & Schönfelder 2000).
More than 200 scientific publications attest to the breadth of his interests and research in both mycology and botany. Within mycology, he focused mainly on two subjects. First, the distribution and ecology of fungi, initiating, for example, the nationwide mapping of selected fungal species. He also compiled an overview of the German Boletales and Agaricales, revised Britzelmayr’s Hymenomyceten aus Südbayern in a long series of papers in Zeitschrift für Pilzkunde from 1964–81 (together with Johann Stangl), provided a mycological survey of the two Bavarian national parks, and recorded the fungi of Regensburg.
Second, he obtained international recognition for his studies on the systematics of basidiomycetes, especially Boletales, based on fungal chemistry (in collaboration with Wolfgang Steglich), karyology, and molecular biology. Together with his colleague Helmut Besl, he prepared the Colour Atlas of Poisonous Fungi (Bresinsky & Besl 1985, 1999), a most useful and well-illustrated book for pharmacists, physicians, and biologists.
Andreas’ international reputation enabled him to attract the 4th International Mycological Congress (IMC4) to Regensburg in 1990, a spectacularly successful IMC attended by about 1500 mycologists from all over the world.
We wish him all the best in this special year, and join our tributes to those prepared by Kämmerer (2015).
Andreas’ wife Birgit ‘kindly provided the photograph included here.
Renowned lichenologist Irwin Brodo turns Eighty
When the magnificent, 800 page book The Lichens of North America by Irwin Brodo and photographers Sylvia and Stephen Sharnoff appeared in 2001 (Brodo et al. 2000), a communal gasp of wonderment swept far and wide. The challenge had been monumental, the product a shining moment for lichenology. Since that time, Irwin Brodo hasn’t slowed down. He is celebrating his 80th birthday with a new book, Keys to Lichens of North America, which he describes as “a spiral-bound workbook of over 400 pages including keys to 2045 species.” Irwin (Ernie) Murray Brodo is a proud Canadian, but he was born in New York City (7 November 1935). He grew up in the Bronx and attended City College in Manhattan as an undergraduate, notably attributing his acceptance in part to a letter written by alumnus Frederick Lascoff, owner of the Manhattan pharmacy where his mother was a bookkeeper. He obtained his MS degree in Biology from Cornell University, and PhD from Michigan State University under the supervision of his esteemed mentor Henry Imshaug. He was hired in 1965 by the National Museum of Canada (now the Canadian Museum of Nature), where he continues to work as research scientist emeritus on a lichen collection (CANL) which he himself made into one of the best in North America.
He has published approximately 100 scientific articles, including in-depth, meticulously researched studies of challenging genera such as Bryoria, Lecanora, and Ochrolechia — all gold standards for monographic research. These and many other scientific accomplishments, not least his pioneering 1968 work on the lichens of Long Island and the effects of air pollutants, are nested within a continuous mission of service to the public (e.g. the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club and the Ottawa-Hull Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society) and to the scientific community. He was President of the International Association for Lichenology (IAL) for a four-year term and of the American Bryological and Lichenological Society for a two-year term, as well as Editor-in-Chief of The Bryologist for several years, to name only a few. He also taught courses at the graduate level in addition to giving a multitude of introductory workshops. His field-course on crustose lichens at the Eagle Hill Institute in coastal Maine has been a perennial favorite for students.
In 2013, in recognition of his distinguished and continuing career in lichenology, as well as his scientific leadership in the international biosystematics community, he was awarded the degree of DSc honoris causa, by Carleton University (Ottawa). Other honours include the Acharius Medal (1994) — the most prestigious award of the IAL — and both the Mary Elliot Award (1993) and Lawson Medal (2003) of the Canadian Botanical Association, recognizing his outstanding professional service and lifetime research contributions.
At eighty, Irwin Brodo continues to inspire and indeed to serve as a rallying force for upcoming generations of taxonomists and systematic biologists, ecologists, conservation biologists, naturalists, and others working on lichens. Happy Birthday Ernie, from some of those you have inspired!
Huub van der Aa at 80 years
Hubertus Antonius van der Aa celebrated his 80th birthday on 5 July 2015. Huub was appointed at the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures (CBS) in Baarn in 1965, charged with becoming an expert in coelomycetes. In those early years he worked alongside the Director, Josef Adolf von Arx (1922–1988), who stimulated Huub’s interest in plant pathogenic fungi. Huub skillfully made series of sections by hand of specimens of mostly plant inhabiting ascomycetes. He isolated numerous fungi that were identified by von Arx and himself, some thousands of which are kept in the CBS collection today. He started his taxonomic studies of the speciose and poorly understood genus Phyllosticta in 1966, and his training skills were also soon recognized in CBS and he became involved in teaching the CBS Course of Mycology. He was a driving force in developing this course, which he led for many years. Numerous students came to Baarn from all over the world and benefitted from his broad experience and deep insight into the ecology of many important fungi. I met no one who knows more of the life-cycles of plant-pathogenic fungi occurring in The Netherlands from personal observations in the field than Huub! This unique knowledge allowed him to contribute to the influential five volume Netherlands Ecological Flora (Weeda et al. 1985–1994), by describing many examples to illustrate the importance of fungi to plant species and communities in The Netherlands.
In 1973 he published his thesis and first monograph of the genus Phyllosticta van der Aa (1973). Based on the generic concept developed then, he continued the painstaking work of studying thousands of (especially type) specimens which finally lead to the publication of A Revision of Species described in Phyllosticta, co-authored by his Bulgarian colleague and friend Simeon Vanev (van der Aa & Vanev 2002), who sadly passed away recently (see p. 55 below). Because of the taxonomic confusion of Phoma with Phyllosticta, Huub also started a very successful collaboration with Gerhard Boerema and co-workers of the Plant Protection Service in Wageningen who worked on characterizing Phoma in pure culture over many years. Many papers on Phoma appeared, and although he did not co-author it, Huub made very significant contributions to the Phoma Identification Manual: differentiation of specific and infra-specific taxa in culture (Boerema et al. 2003).
Besides his projects in CBS, Huub also became a prominent student of the teratology of basidiomes and plant galls inflicted by fungi and insects, building up a unique collection that has been recognized for its diversity and quality of annotations. He also contributed to the two editions of a book on Dutch galls (Docters van Leeuwen 1982, Docters van Leeuwen & Roskam 2009).
Huub served as Treasurer of the IMA from 1983 until 1990. He received a royal decoration in 2014 recognizing his great contributions to the Baarn community, most notably his many years of activity for the Cantonspark Foundation, but certainly also for his many years of service to the Dutch Mycological Society (NMV), as Secretary between 1974 and 1984, Editorin-Chief of Coolia, and as the Librarian for the society for 20 years. Huub was granted honorary membership of the NMV in 1997.
Paul Cyrus Holliday (1924–2015)
It is with deep regret that we record the death on 4 February 2015, of one of the most experienced tropical plant pathologists of the mid-20th century, at the age of 91 years. His aunt, Elizabeth Blackwell who later became a president of the British Mycologial Society, was a great friend of Edward Mason (1890–1975), the first mycologists at the then Imperial Mycological Institute (IMI) at Kew. Paul visited the Institute while he still at school, and learnt to call Mason „Teddy‟, something no other mycologist ever dared do. After graduating from the University of Cambridge, where he came iunder the influence of the distinguished plant pathologist Noel F. Robertson (1923–1999), Paul went to Sri Lanka in 1940. This was perhaps as a part of his Military service, but there he evidently gained a taste for the tropics and an interest in the diseases of tropical crops. In the late 1940s Paul went to the Cocoa Research Institute Trinidad investigating what we now know as Moniliophthora perniciosa causal agent of witches’ broom disease, in which he had a long-term interest (Baker & Holliday 1957).
From 1955–60 Paul was a part of the colonial pool of plant pathologists, based at what had then become the Commonwealth Mycological Institute (CMI), and ready to go wherever there were disease problems of tropical crops. During that time he was seconded to Sarawak to work on the Phytophthora disease of black pepper. After apparently then serving as a lecturer at University of Hull, he returned to CMI in 1968 as editor of the Review of Plant Pathology, a post in which he continued until his retirement in 1983. He contributed reflections of his time at IMI to the Institute’s histiory (Aitchison & Hawksworth 1993).
Editing an abstract journal which involved him scanning the world’s research publications in plant pathology, placed him in a unique posiiton from which to prepare major reference works. His Fungus Diseases of Tropical Crops (Holliday 1980) is an extarordinarily thorough synthesis of the then current state of knowledge, including copious references and nomenclatural information on the pathogens, and which can still be consulted with profit today. While undertaking his editing work, he meticulously maintained a file of 5 x 3 inch cards on which he wrote notes of terms and tid bits of anything he considered of interest. In the years after his retirement, these cards matured into A Dictionary of Plant Pathology (Holliday 1989, 1998). The second edition has around 14,000 entries, and provides an eclectic mix of information modelled on the Dictionary of the Fungi which was compiled on cards in a similar way by Geoffrey C. Ainsworth (1905–1998), for some years in an office next to his. Paul will long be remembered through his works.
Several former colleagues of Paul, notably Clive M. Brasier, Harry C. Evans, and Jim M. Waller, are thanked for information while preparing this note.
Simeon Vanev (1937–2015)
Simeon Vanev was born on 14 September 1937 in Bulgaria where he studied biological sciences and obtained his PhD. Simeon worked first at the Institute of Viticulture and Enology in Pleven (Bulgaria) and then at the Institute of Botany of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia, where he became deputy director. Simeon also taught at the Faculty of Biology at Sofia University „St. Kliment Ohridski‟ and was been a long-term collaborator with many researchers at CBS, where he stayed several times for long periods to study various fungi together with Huub van der Aa, Joost Stalpers, Andre Aptroot, Richard Summerbell, Gerard Verkley, Pedro Crous, Vincent Robert, and many others. He published numerous papers on genera including Agaricus, Amanita, Apiocarpella, Ascochyta, Asteromella, Botrytis, Cytosporella, Discosia, Fusicoccum, Gyoerffyella, Krombholzia, Leptodothiorella, Microsphaeropsis, Monochaetia, Mycoleptodiscus, Peronospora, Phomopsis, Phyllosticta, Pleurotus, Ramularia, Sclerostagonospora, Seimatosporium, Septoria, Stagonospora, and Uncinula, and authored or co-authoredf 146 new fungal names or combination. His first publications date from 1960 with a paper on a plant disease caused by Sclerotinia ricini, while his last major contribution to mycology was the book revising Phyllosticta prepard with Huub van der Aa (van der Aa & Vanev 2002; see (54) above). After that milestone contribution to fungal taxonomy, Simeon remained active for several years, and continued to work from home or at CBS on a number of databases related to aphyllophoraceous fungi, Aspergillus, and Penicillium, and also on MycoBank.
Simeon was a family man, and when we shared an office he often talked about his wife Dora (a German philologist), his daughter Nadya (Nikolova, a lawyer), and granddaughter Ina (an architect). He missed them very much when working at CBS, but his dedication to science and to his work helped him to continue with his tasks. He was also passionate about classical music, literature, mountain hiking, and sport. We often discussed the latter when national teams were playing against each other, or major sporting events were taking place. Our discussions often ending in laughter because of his sense of humor. Having him as a colleague was a blessing. He was always careful for others, generous, smiling, polite, willing to help and such a nice and easy character. Simeon passed away on 17 September 2015, but will always be remembered as a gentleman and a great scientist with a great heart. We miss you a lot Simeon.
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Weber, E., Lutzoni, F., Clayden, S. et al. Awards and Personalia. IMA Fungus 6, 51–55 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03449353