The Important but Overlooked Women in Early Mycology

Rose Tursi Presents : The Important but Overlooked Women in Early Mycology


Rose Tursi is an illustrator by profession. When she's not creating art, she loves spending time outside exploring the natural world. She's led forays and ecological walks for many organizations throughout the country and is an advocate of the community science movement. Her happy place is at the crossroads of art and mycology, and most recently has been experimenting and teaching paint making using fungi as the binder and pigment source. She currently serves as the Visual Arts Chair for the North American Mycological Association.

Topic Synopsis

  The invention of the printing press, microscope, and telescope along with the protestant reformation forever altered the social context of natural philosophy in the west. It helped kickstart the scientific revolution of the 17th century which brought us such concepts as the scientific method and taxonomy.  By the 19th century, the study of natural science had come into the purview of professionals and institutions and the term 'scientist' was coined in 1834.

But in those highly patriarchal times, women were seen as property of their fathers and husbands. They could not vote or access higher education, much less practice a profession. Despite these obstacles, some determined women persevered, though unfortunately due to the culture of the time, they rarely received recognition for their accomplishments.

Have you ever wondered about the first lady to name a fungal taxon? Did you know a woman correctly theorized about the hybrid nature of lichens nearly a century before it was proven true? Or that it was a woman who identified the mold responsible for the potato blight famines? Or that a woman was the first person to successfully germinate mushroom spores in England?

In this talk, we'll delve into the sadly short list of ladies who helped advance the science of mycology prior to 1900. We'll learn who they were, what they did; and in this time of thanksgiving - give them some long overdue thanks!