During the 2011 MSA Meeting in Fairbanks, AK and the FESIN Metamycology workshop, a group of students initiated a student group for MSA, the Mycological Society of America Student Section. From the beginning the student organization was intended to be open and inclusive, therefore all MSA student members would be automatically registered in the Student Section. The Section set up a Facebook page and began using this medium to network with students and (amateur) mycologists. Mia Maltz, first Chair of the Student Section, wrote a short article introducing the Section to the greater mycological community, which was published in the June 2012 Inoculum issue.
Supported by Jean Lodge and David Hibbett, the Section decided to coordinate a few events at MSA 2012 in New Haven, CT (mentor-mentee pairing, poster presentation, student mixer). The first larger-scale event of the MSA Student Section was a professional development workshop with Dr. Anne Pringle: Using fungi to get a job. At the 2012 MSA Council meeting the MSA Student Section was introduced as new business.
During the 2012-2013 academic year, the MSA Student Section initiated and discussed Bylaws, modeled after ESA’s Student Section Bylaws. The Bylaws were sent to all MSA student members for ratification in Fall 2013. The Section published an article in the June 2013 issue of Inoculum, written by Danny Haelewaters, 2012-2013 Communication Chair. This article comprised announcements about the student-sponsored events at MSA/APS 2013 in Austin, TX including the Section’s first official Board Meeting and a poster presentation.
During this first Board Meeting, led by 2012-2013 Chairperson Mia Maltz, the Section notified students that they would be able to run for office for the MSA Student Section Executive Board. Nominations for officers were received via email, and officers were elected by majority vote.
At MSA/APS 2013, the MSA Council voted unanimously for formal recognition of the MSA Student Section into MSA Bylaws.
The Student Section organized its first symposium “Fungal Functional Traits in a Changing World” for the 2014 MSA meeting in East Lansing, MI. The symposium featured the following speakers: Dr. Sara Branco (University of California Berkeley), Dr. Thomas Crowther (Yale University), Dr. Joshua Herr (Michigan State University), Dr. Roger Koide (Brigham Young University), Mia Maltz (University of California Irvine), and Nathan Wilson (Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory). The Section sought and found funding from Plant and Soil.
Online and social media
Members of the Section use on-line resources such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Groups, and Google Hangouts for video conference calls, editing documents, and advance purchase T-shirt orders. The Student Section actively started using social media in 2012-2013 (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). Students created the #MSA_APS2013 hashtag for the 2013 APS-MSA Joint Meeting and have been using this to build momentum and foster communication among conference attendees, as well as with MSA students unable to attend this meeting. Furthermore, we set up a newsletter account through Mail Chimp, which is helpful to streamline communication from the Section to the students. This webpage for the MSA Student Section was created by Kathie Hodge, 2012-2013 MSA Webmaster.
We submitted a Grad Student Challenge Grant to National Science Foundation to raise funds for the Student Section. In the grant application, we proposed to increase graduate involvement in MSA by augmenting the use of technology at the annual MSA meeting. The proposal aimed to: increase conference accessibility, improve mentor-mentee connections, increase access to historical information on founders and subsequent mycological lineages, and encourage coordination and communication via social media. We proposed to do this using social media platforms, such as Wikipedia, YouTube, Camtasia (podcast recording), PotterTM (poster presenter software), Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We would like to offer work travel/trade to support student documentation of the meeting, or authoring linked Wikipedia pages for academic lineages. At the 2013 MSA-APS Joint Meeting in Austin, TX the Student Section sold printed T-shirts; the response was very positive, from both students and faculty.
MSA Student Section Executive Board 2014-2015
Chairperson: Danny Haelewaters
Vice-Chair: Jessie Uehling
Secretary: Klara Scharnagl
Treasurer: Samantha Lee
Communication Chair: Cat Adams
Appointed Webmaster: Chris Smyth
Appointed Postdoctoral Representative: Tanya Cheeke
Past-Chair: Mia Maltz