2021 MSA Distinction Awardees
2021 MSA Distinction Awardees
Distinguished Mycologist Award
Joe B. Heitman
Joe is a James B. Duke Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology at Duke University. His research focuses on sex and signaling in fungi, leveraging genetics and genomics to understand global evolutionary trends in fungal mating systems and how the sexual cycle is integrated with other environmental signals to influence fungal pathogenesis. He has an extensive training and teaching portfolio, serving as director of the Tri-Institutional Molecular Mycology and Pathogenesis Training Program in the Research Triangle Region. For over two decades he has served as instructor in residence at the Marine Biological Laboratory Molecular Mycology Course in Woods Hole, MA. He currently serves as the Co-Director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) program, Fungal Kingdom: Threats and Opportunities. He has mentored 22 PhD students and over 60 postdoctoral fellows. Together they have made voluminous contributions to science, including the discovery of unisexual mating in fungi and the identification of FKBP12 and TOR as the targets of the immunosuppressive drug rapamycin using yeast as a model for T-cells. He has edited 7 books, including leading Sex in Fungi: Molecular Determination and Evolutionary Implications and The Fungal Kingdom and has published over 500 articles. His service to the broader community is likewise extensive via editorial work, conference organization, and committee work, including MSA’s Karling Lecture Committee. He has been recognized for his scholarship through many awards, most recently receiving the Edward Novitski Prize from the Genetics Society of America, the ASM Award for Basic Research from the American Society for Microbiology, and his election as a member of the National Academy of Science.
William H. Weston Award for Teaching Excellence Awardee
M. Catherine Aime
M. Catherine Aime is a Professor of Mycology in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology at Purdue University, where she also serves as Director of the Arthur and Kriebel Herbaria. With her mentees and colleagues, she has published over 220 peer-reviewed papers to date. Since assuming her faculty position in 2007, she has mentored 13 postdocs, nine PhD students, eight MS students, and over 100 undergraduates researchers. Since 2015, she has been the recipient of her department’s outstanding graduate advisor and mentor award three times and the Outstanding Teacher in the College of Ag twice. In 2020, she was elected to the distinction of fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Cathie’s primary classroom teaching responsibility at Purdue is an introductory microbiology course targeted to plant science undergraduates. When Cathie took over the course, she transformed it into a class that is always overenrolled and one that has stellar evaluations for the course content and her teaching. This course also turned Cathie into, as her former department head describes, “a magnet for undergraduate students who are captivated by the course content and want research experience, all of whom she accommodated, and many of whom go on to pursue graduate education in mycology and plant pathology.” Her lab group is a diverse assemblage of students and postdocs, over time representing six continents and 11 countries. Within this group, she fosters camaraderie through lab forays, holiday get-togethers, crawfish boils, monthly rock ‘n’ roll lunches and celebrations for members’ achievements. Notably, she has structured her lab group to be a community where no one feels they have to succeed or fail on their own. In testimonial after testimonial from her mentees, they discuss how Cathie is their fiercest supporter, providing her time, encouragement and all the opportunities in her arsenal to make each and every one of them a better scientist.
William H. Weston Award for Teaching Excellence Awardee
Frances Trail is a Professor and interim chair of the Plant Biology Department at Michigan State University. Frances has served MSA as a member of the Council 2010-2012, as an Associate Editor of Mycologia 2008-2013 and as an Executive Editor (2014-2017). Frances is currently on the MSA program committee, and together with the late Jonathan Walton co-hosted and organized MSA’s 2015 meeting in East Lansing, Michigan. Frances’ research focuses genetics, development and resistance of head-scab in wheat and barley, caused by Fusarium graminearum, but her research also extends to secondary metabolites in lichens and plant microbiomes in agricultural systems. Frances has published over 64 peer-reviewed papers to date. Frances integrates mycology into introductory genetics and biology courses that she teaches, and she has also been teaching Fungal Biology (PLB 402) for 25 years. In this class, which is popular with undergraduate and graduate students, Frances stimulates a guided exploration of Fungi involving the five senses and emphasizing observation as a key to developing novel questions. Frances is passionate about teaching and mentorship and she maintains an active lab. Since starting as Assistant Professor in 1996, Frances has mentored 5 visiting scientists, 21 postdocs, 11 PhD students, 34 undergraduate and 5 high school students.
Constantine J. Alexopoulos Prize
László G. Nagy
László G. Nagy is a Principal Investigator at the Biological Research Center of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, in Szeged, Hungary. Laszlo received his PhD in 2011 from the Department of Microbiology, University of Szeged, under the direction of Dr. Csaba Vágvölgyi and Dr. Tamás Papp. He conducted postdoctoral research as a Rosztoczy Foundation Fellow in David Hibbett’s lab at Clark University, in Worcester, Massachusetts, before returning to Szeged. His awards include the Szent Gyorgyi Talent Prize (Szeged Scientists Academy) and the Prima Primissima Junior Award (Hungarian Academy of Sciences), among others. He now supervises a laboratory that includes six postdoctoral fellows and four PhD students, as well as numerous undergraduates and staff. Since 2014, he has received multiple grants from the European Research Council and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, totalling over €3.6 million ($4.2 million), as well as support for collaborative projects from the Joint Genome Institute Community Science Program. He has over 60 publications in the top journals of general science as well as mycological journals (including six papers in Mycologia). Laszlo has diverse interests in fungal systematics and evolution, ranging from basic taxonomy of coprinoid mushrooms to phylogenetic comparative methods and functional genomics of Basidiomycota. He has created novel bioinformatic tools for testing correlations among gene family diversification and trait evolution, and he is a leader in the emerging discipline of fungal evo-devo. Laszlo is highly sought as a collaborator and has lent his talents to diverse research initiatives, such as the 1000 fungal genomes project and other large comparative genomic studies. With his strong grounding in organismal mycology, and his prodigious skills in bioinformatics, genomics, and phylogenetic theory, Laszlo is the model of a modern integrative fungal biologist.
Gordon and Tina Wasson Award
David P. Lewis
David P. Lewis is a retired chemist and President of the Gulf States Mycological Society. He received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from Lamar University, Beaumont, TX, where his thesis was based on a study of East Texas mushrooms. He is a Research Associate with the Field Museum of Natural History where he deposited about 5,000 collections of his fungi, and he is also an honorary staff member of the S.M. Tracy Herbarium at Texas A&M (TAEM/TAMU) where he deposited around 4,500 collections. Since 2006 he has been the Fungal TWiG leader, the coordinator for mycologists, for the Big Thicket National Preserve All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory. David has discovered at least eight new fungal species and has co-authored 13 papers in mycological journals between 1981 and 2016, which have been cited 354 times. Three species of mushrooms have been named in his honor. In addition, David co-authored a guidebook with Bessette and Bessette in 2019 – Mushrooms of the Gulf Coast States: A Field Guide to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. David Lewis’s contributions were recognized by NAMA Amateur Mycology Award in 2009. The NAMA award noted that for over 30 years David P Lewis has devoted his life to the study of fungi and to helping others in this pursuit, and that he is a tireless worker, an endlessly enthusiastic promoter of all things fungal, and one of the warmest, most generous, and least self-aggrandising individuals on the face of the Earth.