Tom Volk's Mycology Research
During my research career, I have been lucky to work on a variety of interesting projects on interesting fungi. I have also had the opportunity to travel a great deal. I love to give lecture to departments, as well as Professional and amateur mycologists. So far I have presented lectures and/ or workshops in 32 states. You can read my curriculum vitae online to learn the details of my academic and research career. I always need to update it, but here's a summary of my research so far.
In graduate school at UW- Madison with Dr. Tom Leonard, I worked for 3 years on a tumor-inducing gene in Schizophyllum commune, then switched my thesis work to research on morels. My thesis, completed in 1988, was entitled "Experimental Studies on the morel." I worked out a life cycle for the morel using cytology and genetics, then did some experiments with sclerotia formation. We also worked on cultivation of various other edible mushrooms, such as shiitake and oysters. All that has been published. I have provided a page of the Life Cycle of the Morel, which includes a paper originally published in McIlvainea; it lists all the research papers from my thesis.
At the Forest Products Lab
After I received my PhD in 1988, I moved to the Center for Forest Mycology Research at the Forest Products Lab in Madison, Wisconsin for a 6.5 year postdoc and "temporary" job with Dr. Hal Burdsall. There I worked on a variety of biosystematic and ecological studies of wood decay fungi, mostly in the Polyporaceae s.l., Corticiaceae s.l. and Agaricales, as well as root- and butt-rot fungi in those groups. I have continued to collaborate with other researchers there, including Dan Czederpiltz, since Madison is only a 2.5 hour drive fromLa Crosse. Current research programs there include the systematics, ecology and taxonomy in the genera Armillaria, Laetiporus, Bridgeoporus, Phlebia, and Phellinus, and also the study of ecology and pathogenesis of fungi in temperate and tropical ecosystems. I have also collaborated with CFMR personnel and with Dr. Karen Wikler on a project involving biodiversity of wood decay fungi of Israeli forests.
In addition, the CFMR houses the world's largest culture collection of wood-inhabiting fungi, with approximately 15,000 isolates of about 2500 species, ~90% of which are basidiomycetes. I am continuing to work with Hal Burdsall on a monograph of the North American Armillaria species. We have already published the taxonomic part as a book: "A nomenclatural study of Armillaria and Armillariella species" Fungiflora, Oslo Norway: Synopsis Fungorum 8, 121 pp. (1995). In this book we have determined the current taxonomic placement of the ~270 species that were once placed in either or both of these genera. Approximately 30 species are currently accepted in Armillaria; the rest belong in 43 other modern genera. We have also published a Key to North American species of Armillaria. In 1996, we described North American Biological Species (NABS) IX as a new species, Armillaria nabsnona Volk & Burdsall. (in Volk, Burdsall & Banik, Mycologia 88 : 484-491, 1996). As promised in that paper here are some color images of Armillaria nabsnona. Or now you can read about the discovery and description of this species here.
At UW-La CrosseSince 1996 I have been a Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where I teach courses on General Mycology, Medical Mycology, Organismal Biology (with Greg Sandland, Plant-Microbe Interactions, Advanced Mycology, Food & Industrial Mycology (with S.N. Rajagopal), Organismal Biology, Latin & Greek for Scientists, as well as Plant Biology. La Crosse is located in western Wisconsin on the Mississippi River in the beautiful driftless (unglaciated) area, between the river and spectacular 500-600 ft. bluffs.
Besides continuing some work with Armillaria and other wood inhabiting fungi, I once again get to work on morels! We also do a variety of other interesting projects in my lab. My students and I also work on some interesting projects. To the left you can see some of my students and former students at the MSA meeting in Asilomar, CA in the summer of 2003 as I received the William H. Weston award for Excellence in Teaching Mycology. You can see my students' names if you put your cursor over their faces. For a list of my publications and what I'm working on now, including Armillaria, Laetiporus, Bridgeoporus, Morchella, medically important fungi, fungal ecology, bioremediation with fungi, and a number of fungal biodiversity studies, check out my Curriculum vitae, or résumé if you prefer.
My students' projectsStudents in my lab work on a variety of interesting projects. Whenever possible, I like to have my students choose their own projects, to make sure they're working on something they like. Of course, there are a few constraints placed on their choices; their projects have to involve topics that I know something about, or that I am interested in learning about. I have a pretty broad background in mycology, so the choices for my students are really quite broad, as you can see in their choices of topics below.
We are proud to have had a visiting Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Ayman Daba from Egypt, join our lab for six months. Ayman has returned to his home in Egypt, and we hope he can visit again soon.
Dr. Hee Kyu Kim, a plant pathology professor from South Korea, has completed his sabbatical in my lab, September 2007-May 2008. We enjoyed his visit, and we hope to see him again soon.
Current M.S. Graduate students
Former M.S. Graduate students
Honors bestowed on my graduate studentsI'm proud to announce that four of my students have won graduate student poster awards at the Mycological Society of America meeting.
Sean Westmoreland was awarded the "Outstanding Thesis Award for the Department of Biology and the College of Science and Allied Health at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse" for 2003-2004. Congratulations to Sean!
Adam Gusse was awarded the "Outstanding Thesis Award for the Department of Biology and the College of Science and Allied Health at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse" for 2004-2005. Congratulations to Adam!
Kelsea Jewel was awarded the "Outstanding Thesis Award at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse" for 2005-2006. Congratulations to Kelsea!
Jon Palmer was awarded the "Outstanding Thesis Award at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse" for 2006-2007. Congratulations to Jon!
Many of my students have also won travel awards to meetings. Nik Zitomer and Sean Westmoreland each won two travel awards (2002, 2003) from the Mycological Society of America to attend the MSA meetings, while Joshua Burgess won once (2003). Joshua also won a travel award from the International Society of Human and Animal Mycology to attend the ISHAM meeting in San Antonio (2003). Adam Gusse, Bernadette O'Reilly, and Maria Lee won travel awards to the MSA meeting in Asheville NC in 2004. Kelsea Jewell and Bernadette O'Reilly won travel awards to the MSA meeting in Hilo, Hawaii in 2005. Jon Palmer won a travel award to the MSA meeting in Quebec in 2006. Craig Dunek won a travel award to the MSA meeting in Baton Rouge, LA in 2007. Eric Walberg won a travel award to the MSA meeting in Utah in 2009.
Would you like to do graduate or undergraduate research in my lab? Contact me!
Tom Volk's awards
In August 2008 I was named a Fellow of the Mycological Society of America.
In July 2003 it was my honor to receive the "William H. Weston award for excellence in teaching Mycology" from the Mycological Society of America. I am very grateful to my former student, Dr. Dan Czederpiltz, who nominated me, and the rest my students and others who wrote letters on my behalf. You can read more about this award at http://msafungi.org/54(5).pdf and scroll to page 19.
In July 2005 I was honored to be presented with the North American Mycological Association's highest award, for Lifetime Contributions to Amateur Mycology. Thank you to the Minnesota Mycological Society and Dr. Dan Czederpiltz for nominating me, and thank you to NAMA for the honor.
I have received some awards for my world wide web page TomVolkFungi.net. My main page is downloaded 8000-19,000 times per month by people from all over the world, with more than 156,000 hits in the past year and more than 990,000 times in the past 14 years. I have received email from every continent, including Antarctica, regarding my web page, with visitors from at least 197 countries. My "Fungi that are necessary for a merry Christmas" page was the featured web site in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec 19, 1997. Entire site featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education March 1998. Named as one of the 500 "Best of the Web" in "The Web" magazine, Feb. 1998. Links2Go Key Resource Award July 1998, ACS (Aspire Communications Service) Link of the Day Oct 22, 1998. Discover It! - The Best of the Web. January 15, 1999. Cool image of the Day March 24, 1999. from dailyimage.com. Openhere.com, a website for family-oriented links. Mullein Award for Nature Web Excellence. It would be great to hear from you. Let me know what
you think about these pages.
updated August 25, 2010
It would be great to hear from you. Let me know what you think about these pages.
updated August 25, 2010