I am a systematic mycologist. My focus is on teaching and learning about the classification, evolution, and characterization of fungi. Fungi are a particularly poorly known group, with only about 5% of species formally described. My focus is in fungal biodiversity, especially of species that are pathogens of insects. I use molecular and morphological approaches to discover their relationships, devise classification systems, and understand factors that have driven their evolution. I direct the Cornell Plant Pathology Herbarium (CUP), a world-class collection that documents the earth`s diversity of fungi and plant disease organisms. I teach undergraduate and graduate classes on fungi.
My research program focuses on the taxonomy and classification of fungi, particularly those that are associated with insects. I use molecular biology and microscopic methods to investigate fungal relationships. I develop basic knowledge on the biodiversity of fungi, describing new species and genera, and construct resources to aid in their identification.
Outreach and Extension Focus
I aim to demystify fungi, including molds and mushrooms, and promote public appreciation of their key roles in the environment. I founded the successful Cornell Mushroom Blog to answer public demand for information about fungi, while also involving my students in outreach through writing about science for a general audience.
I teach undergraduate and graduate classes about fungi. My undergraduate classes include one field class that teaches mushrooms identification skills, and one lecture/laboratory classes that gives a broad overview of fungal classification and ecology. A graduate-level class promotes critical thinking skills through critique of cutting edge scientific articles on fungi.