The Fungal Kingdom

Fall 2020
Winter 2021
Class Size: 50
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Calabria, Lalita square
botany, phytochemistry, systematics
Paul Przybylowicz
ecology, biology, mycology

From mushrooms, antibiotics, and high-fructose corn syrup to yeasts, “acid-washed” jeans, and bioremediation, humans have been using fungi for thousands of years. Fungi play fundamental roles in terrestrial ecosystems as recyclers of organic matter and as partners with plants and algae to form mycorrhizae and lichens. This two-quarter, upper-level program will focus on understanding these unique and pivotal organisms. 

During fall quarter, our program time will consist primarily of fieldwork and labs where students will learn to describe and identify fruiting mushrooms and lichens using dichotomous keys, chemical and microscopic techniques. Students will learn to collect, identify and curate their own herbarium-quality lichen and mushroom specimens. Two multi-day field trips and one day trip will support student learning of natural history and ecology, as well as field-based methods for assessing biodiversity of lichens and fruiting mushrooms. Fall quarter lectures, workshops, and seminars will cover biology, evolution, systematics and physiology of fungi and lichens.

Winter quarter, our focus will shift more indoors to laboratory work with microfungi and genetic taxonomy techniques. Lectures and workshops in winter quarter will explore application of mycology to environmental problem-solving as well as the many ecological roles that fungi play: mutualists to plants and animals, nutrient cyclers, disease-causing agents, and indicators of environmental quality. 

Students will engage in a two-quarter-long group research project relating to fungi or lichens. During fall quarter, students will participate in experimental design and scientific writing workshops and will develop field and lab-based skills to inform their research. Each group will prepare a concise research proposal including a thorough literature review and a pilot study exploring the most appropriate data collection and analysis methods for answering their research questions. During winter quarter, students will conduct research experiments, analyze their data and write a research paper outlining their results that will be presented to the class at the end of Winter quarter. Credit equivalencies for the program will include mycology, lichenology, lichen taxonomy, fungal taxonomy, and scientific writing.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:

ecology, biology, natural history, education, and environmental studies.


Credits per quarter


8 credits of general biology including coverage of cell biology, molecular biology, biomolecules, organismal biology, ecology and  evolution. 

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Fall quarter fee of $475 for two multi-day field trips

Upper division science credit:

Up to 32 credits of upper-division science may be earned by students who successfully meet all the program learning objectives.

Class Standing: Junior–Senior
Class Size: 50

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

May be offered again in:

Fall winter 2022-23