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Advice on Potential Academic Pathways for an Aspiring Lichenologist

  • 08 Aug 2022 7:23 PM
    Message # 12877563

    Hello! My name is Leo Buoncristiani, I am a community college student in Northern California and I am looking to transfer to a four year college to study Lichen/Fungal Ecology and Biogeography. I'm having a hard time finding a major/minor course program in this subject. Does anyone have suggestions for academic paths to follow in order to study these topics, or suggestions for courses that would build foundational knowledge. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you all for your time,

    Leo Buoncristiani

  • 10 Aug 2022 11:08 AM
    Reply # 12879482 on 12877563

    Hi Leo,

    Looks like no one else has had time to respond, so I will send my 2 cents worth of advice. What I did (40 years ago) was find an ecologist to work with who was open to me studying lichens for my thesis. I took ecology, mycology, statistics and of course lots of other classes. I would highly recommend taking really good classes in those 3 subjects, especially statistics so that you can plan your studies well. I don't think having a lichenologist for your advisor is imperative, although someone with knowledge about lichens would be helpful! You might also want to learn to sequence, since that is becoming imperative for all sorts of studies.

    Hope that helps!

  • 13 Aug 2022 8:25 AM
    Reply # 12882578 on 12877563

    Hi Leo, 

    I definitely agree with what Daphne suggested. In terms of universities, Cal Poly Humboldt has a lichenology class, that's where I first was inspired by lichens as a botany student years ago. Oregon State also has a lichenology class as well. Both locations are lichenology, as well as mycology, hotspots. Really you would major in botany and could focus your studies on lichens, that's kind of what I did during my undergraduate studies. Let me know if you want to chat further about this and I can send you my email. 

  • 15 Aug 2022 7:23 PM
    Reply # 12884938 on 12877563

    Daphne and Adrienne,

    Thank you both so much for your responses, they are a big help! Your suggestions are in line with what I have been hearing as I search for potential schools. Since there are not a lot of dedicated mycology courses and certainly not many majors for it yet, the best route seems to be to go for a Botany or Ecology and Evolutionary Biology major (I’m unsure which would be better), as that’s where the mycology/lichenology classes are placed currently. Then, adding on to that, any statistics, bioinformatics (as the need for sequencing is only growing, thank you Daphne), population genetics, and extra plant systematics classes I can muster. I would prefer to attend school in California for undergrad if I can help it, and so I have started to look into Cal Poly Humboldt’s Botany program (thank you Adrienne). And Adrienne, yes that would be great, I think it would be helpful to talk further with you about any additional guidance you have. 

    Your feedback is very helpful and encouraging, thanks again!


    Last modified: 15 Aug 2022 7:24 PM | Leo Buoncristiani
  • 16 Aug 2022 4:27 AM
    Reply # 12885169 on 12877563

    Hi Leo, having a degree in Botany may better qualify you for field jobs, which can provide further education and connections on your path. Best of luck with your studies.


  • 16 Aug 2022 12:40 PM
    Reply # 12885792 on 12877563

    In the field is where I want to be, thanks for the tip Becca!


  • 16 Aug 2022 1:21 PM
    Reply # 12885847 on 12877563

    Hi Leo:

    You have already gotten some great advice from others but I wanted to tell you about Evergreen and The Fungal Kingdom program, which may interest you!

    I teach lichenology and mycology at the Evergreen State College a four-year liberal arts college in Olympia WA. We offer a repeating program every other year called The Fungal Kingdom. We also offer a variety of field-intensive coursework in botany and ecology. What makes Evergreen special is that instead of major/minors and separate courses, students have the freedom to design their own path of study and we offer 16 credit interdisciplinary programs focused on different themes that are co-taught by two professors. Students who take 16 credit programs have the opportunity to go on week-long field trips and so lots of project-based learning in the field and lab. Its all very hands on. If you want to learn more, check out our website!

    Good luck!


  • 17 Aug 2022 1:40 PM
    Reply # 12887073 on 12877563

    Thank you Lalita! The Fungal Kingdom program sounds very interesting, I will definitely take a look at Evergreen as well!

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