Mycology expert shares information, passion at Ferris State University

EXPANDING NETWORK: Among the topics discussed during Paul Stamets' presentation at Ferris State University was the similarity between a mycelial network, which carries energy and information in a fungus, and the Internet, which carries information in human society. The shape of both networks also shares similarities with the shape of the universe itself. (Pioneer photo/Adam Gac)

EXPANDING NETWORK: Among the topics discussed during Paul Stamets’ presentation at Ferris State University was the similarity between a mycelial network, which carries energy and information in a fungus, and the Internet, which carries information in human society. The shape of both networks also shares similarities with the shape of the universe itself. (Pioneer photo/Adam Gac)

BIG RAPIDS — Humanity has powerful allies in combating the collapse of bee colonies and diseases like cancer and smallpox. Hundreds of residents from Mecosta County and beyond attended an event Friday to learn about these confederates in preserving life – fungi.

Mycology expert and author of “Mycelium Running,” Paul Stamets visited Ferris State University to present “Mushrooms for Bees, Trees, People and Planet” as part of an Earth Day celebration. In his presentation, Stamets discussed a number of different aspects of his research into different species of mushrooms, including their effectiveness in combating ailments in humans and insects alike.

The event, presented by the Bulldog Sustainability Alliance and FSU Outdoor Club, was a great success, according to Symon Cronk, the incoming president of the sustainability alliance.

“This idea came together through months of planning,” he said. “We chose a pollinator theme, and this presentation fit really well with it. There is no better person than Paul Stamets. He is an expert in the world mycological community. The reviews we saw and the ‘wows’ we received after announcing he was coming was incredible. His work speaks to every avenue of interest in bioremediation and the bee community.”

Cronk was first exposed to Stamets’ work by the current president of the sustainability alliance, Mike Williams, who was elated to introduce Stamets before the presentation began.

“When I first purchased a kit, I just wanted to see how mushrooms grew. I had been hunting them forever. I watched how fast they grew and it fascinated me,” Williams said. “Then, I learned to grow not using kits and using spores instead. All of that was learned through reading Paul’s books, ‘Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms,’ and ‘The Mushroom Cultivator.’”

Stamets’ work on mycofiltration and mycoremediation in “Mycelium Running,” which discusses the roles fungus can play in repairing damaged ecosystems and saving the planet, was a major force in Williams’ life, he said.

“Without his push influencing me in mycology, I never would have ended up in college 10 years after high school,” he said.  “I’ve always got edible patches growing. I love collecting wild samples and isolating them. Mycology is life.”

Stamets said he liked visiting Big Rapids, adding the community’s strong roots call mycelium to mind.

“I really like the people here,” he said. “They’re real and unpretentious.”

Stamets said any residents interested in learning more about mycology should visit the North American Mycology Association website at namyco.org. The association is responsible for hosting numerous informational events and mushroom hunts lead by expert mycologists.

“There’s a whole group of people who are all bonded together like a mycelial network,” he said. “What I want to do is give the key to a door that other people can walk through and explore. There’s much more than Paul Stamets – I’m just one person of many.”

avatar

Posted by Adam Gac

Adam is the Pioneer City/County Reporter, covering government in Mecosta County. He can be reached by e-mail at agac@pioneergroup.com or by phone at (231) 592-8347.

Leave a Reply