As a kid my parents would take me mushroom hunting in the forests around Oslo, and I would soon spend hours browsing through the local field guides before I even learned how to read the descriptions that accompanied the pictures. Back then, most Norwegians were a little mycophobic, but my folks were from China, where fungi play important roles in the cuisine and traditional medicine, so they weren’t too troubled by my obsession.
As I grew older I started to notice patterns in fruiting phenology, and I would wonder why certain species would only grow in certain habitats or always associate with other species, - fundamental questions in ecology unbeknownst to me then. I had some of these questions answered in the first mycology class I took at the University of Oslo, where I learned about different fungal groups and their ecologies, but we were also told about all the unexplored questions in fungal biology.
My interest in mycology eventually brought me across the Atlantic and the North American continent to pursue a masters’ degree at Oregon State University. Here I have worked with Dr. Joseph Spatafora on the Rhizopogon truffles. This work has made me discover the fascinating world of truffles and truffle-like fungi which fruit belowground, but also to dig deep into the genome of these organisms searching for clues about their evolutionary history and trajectory. I like to think of myself as being aligned with the natural history tradition in biology, but my masters’ thesis focused heavily on the genome data of Rhizopogon, and I think this type of data will become indispensable to move the mycology forward. I enjoy cooking and drinking tea when I am not hunting for truffles and mushrooms in the field, or troubleshooting command-line analyses while thinking about sex in fungi.
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