2021 Women in Science: Plant-Fungal Interactions, Past and Present
Plants and fungi have engaged in a continuum of mutualistic to pathogenic relationships throughout geologic time; today ~90% of all plants on Earth form mycorrhizae (symbiotic associations with fungal partners) and most also have complex mycobiomes of latent pathogens, putative mutualists, or weakly parasitic fungi. In the course of this project, you will:
a) investigate Carboniferous (~320-310 million year old) coal swamp plants for fossil fungi by creating and microscopically examining paleontological thin-sections.
b) contribute to a community science-driven project in which you will isolate, culture, and collect/analyze ecological data for fungi inhabiting urban milkweeds.
• Preparing paleontological thin-sections (1-2 each per week)
• Microscopic examinations of thin-sections
• Photomicrography of fungal fossils
• Preparing fungal growth media
• Isolation, culturing, maintenance of fungal cultures
Folllowing training, you will work as an independent team with frequent progress meetings with Dr. Klymiuk. You will also be expected to contribute to long-term Collections-space projects for a portion of most days (e.g., ongoing inventory of fossil plant collection, outreach, Collections Club, social media content creation). You may work alongside other interns or volunteers, and may be responsible for providing training and oversight for some work in those cases.
You will gain experience with paleontological techniques for fossil plants and fungi, microscopy and photomicrography, scientific figure preparation (Photoshop, possibly Illustrator, no prior experience necessary), and mycological techniques including sterile lab technique, culturing, and morphological species isolation (‘morphotyping’) of plant and soil molds. Depending on discovery, components of this research are likely to result in publishable scientific data, and you will have the opportunity to make authorial contributions to any publications. You will receive mentoring in fungal and organismal plant biology, and you will have ample opportunity to explore the Field Museum’s paleobotanical collection.
You are: focused, responsible, pragmatic, and goal-oriented. You work well in dynamic teams, and communicate clearly (verbally and written). You thrive in a self-regulated environment, but do not hesitate to ask for clarification of process, goals, or theory. You are organized, detail-oriented, and manage your time well.
Cautions: Expect long (1-2 hour) periods of sustained standing. Some people experience motion-sickness with prolonged microscope use. Possible environmental allergen exposure (Aspergillus or Penicillium). Thin-sectioning can exacerbate existing carpal tunnel syndrome. Short intervals of heavy (50-60 lb) team-lifting may be asked of you but will not be required.
You must be willing to commit to ensuring that our space/teams are places of support and safety for LGBT2SQIA and neurodiverse persons.
Indigenous and historically-underrepresented students, first-generation scholars, and students with non-traditional educational backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.