Jessie Micales jmicales at
Fri Apr 11 08:23:13 EST 1997

Hi Ben.  A mycologist is someone who studies fungi.  There are 
many different aspects of mycology, and many different types of 
mycologists.  Most mycologists specialize in one particular group 
of fungi.  There are also many different aspects of fungi that can 
be studied:  their genetics, their physiology, how to control 
them, how to grow them, how to identify them, how they are related 
to each other and how they evolved into their current forms, what 
diseases they cause (in plants, humans and other animals, insects, 
other fungi, etc.), how they can be useful (food and drink, 
biological control, antibiotics,etc.).  It is a vast field.

The pathway for becoming a mycologist often involves lots of 
school work.  Typically, one goes to college and majors in 
biology, botany, or agricultural sciences.  This is followed by 
graduate school where you work in the laboratory of a mycologist 
who serves as your mentor and teaches you his/her specialty.  
Medical mycologists might go to medical school.  Graduate school 
can take 5 - 7 years (or even more sometimes) to get a Ph.D. which 
is the terminal degree in the field.  After graduate school, many 
mycologists work as post-doctoral students in an established 
research lab to gain more experience before they go on to a more 
permanent job in academia or industry.  Many people view mycology 
as a very interesting advocation (rather than trying to earn a 
living at it), and they join mycological societies, go on mushroom 
forays, read field manuals, etc. without more formal training.

The best think you can do to learn about mycology is go to the 
library and look up some introductory mycology books.  You can 
also visit the Mycological Society of America's web site at: which will link you to many 
other mycological sites on the internet. 

Good luck.

Jessie Micales
Center for Forest Mycology Research
Forest Products Laboratory

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