Fungi play fundamental roles in terrestrial ecosystems as recyclers of organic matter and as partners with plants and algae to form mycorrhizae and lichens. From mushrooms, antibiotics, and high-fructose corn syrup to yeasts, "acid-washed" jeans, and bioremediation, the importance of fungi for humans and the ecosystems they inhabit is indisputable. This two-quarter, upper-level program will focus on understanding these unique and pivotal organisms.
During fall quarter, our program time will consist primarily of fieldwork and virtual and/or at-home labs where students will learn to collect, describe and identify fruiting mushrooms and lichens using dichotomous keys, chemical and microscopic techniques. Students will be guided by their faculty through remote, independent field experiences to learn about natural history and ecology, as well as field-based methods for assessing biodiversity of lichens and fruiting mushrooms. Fall quarter lectures, workshops, and seminars will cover biology, evolution, systematics and physiology of fungi and lichens. In Winter quarter, our focus will shift more indoors to laboratory work with micro-fungi and genetic taxonomy techniques. Lectures and workshops in winter quarter will explore application of mycology to environmental problem-solving as well as the many ecological roles that fungi play: mutualists to plants and animals, nutrient cyclers, disease-causing agents, and indicators of environmental quality.
During winter quarter, students will write a research proposal relating to fungi or lichens. Each group will prepare a concise research proposal including a thorough literature review exploring the most appropriate data collection and analysis methods for answering their research questions. Their results that will be presented to the class at the end of Winter quarter. The 12-credit option will include 6 credits of lichen taxonomy and ecology, along with 6 credits of fungal taxonomy and ecology. The 16-credit option will include 4 credits of technical writing in which students will research and write a research proposal.”
To successfully participate in this program, students will need reliable high-speed internet access, a computer, a smartphone or digital camera, a home address where they can receive lab/field supplies and access to the outdoors. Students can expect our remote teaching to be a blend of about 15 hours a week of asynchronous (self-paced) and 8 hours a week of synchronous (scheduled) work using Canvas and Zoom. Our approach will emphasize participation in synchronous (live) sessions; however, if students find themselves unable to participate due to technology, caregiving obligations, economic disruption, health risk, or illness, they can work with faculty to pursue alternate options to earn related credit. Credit equivalencies for the program will include mycology, lichenology, lichen taxonomy, fungal taxonomy, and scientific writing.
8 credits of general biology including coverage of cell biology, molecular biology, biomolecules, organismal biology, ecology and evolution.
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Prerequisites: 2 quarters of college biology, 1 quarter of ecology. Interested students should email faculty and explain how they meet the prerequisites. Signatures will be given as spaces become available.
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ecology, biology, natural history, education, and environmental studies.
$150 in fall and $75 in winter for remote instructional support materials
$100 for supplies and materials for class-related projects
Up to 32 credits of upper-division science may be earned by students who successfully meet all the program learning objectives.