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Renowned Mycology Expert to Speak at UW May 3

April 23, 2019
head portrait of a woman
Lynne Boddy

Lynne Boddy, a professor of microbial ecology in Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, will speak at the University of Wyoming as part of the Department of Botany’s inaugural Martha Christensen Memorial Lectures.

Boddy will give her seminar, “The Mysterious Hidden Kingdom -- Fungi,” at 6 p.m. Friday, May 3, in UW’s Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center. A reception will follow her talk, which is free and open to the public.

Boddy works on the ecology of wood decomposition, focused on community and organismal biology of decomposer fungi. She won the 2018 Learned Society of Wales Frances Hoggan Medal.

A kingdom of several million species, fungi are hidden from us most of the time, according to Boddy. Working unseen, they are essential to the functioning of Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems, and humans would not survive without them. They allowed plants to colonize land over 450 million years ago, they feed our living plants, and they break down dead materials.

Fungi provide a major food source for many invertebrates and small mammals in nature and are important in the food industry. Fungi also produce many “wonder drugs,” including statins, cyclosporine and penicillin. They also are used in the production of some contraceptives and anti-inflammation medications, to name a few.

The Martha Christensen Memorial Lectures were created shortly after she died March 17, 2017, at age 85. The program was funded largely by contributions from her former students and many friends. In addition, her twin brother, James, contributed the lion’s share, which brought it to maturity.

Christensen was a mycologist, primarily studying soil microfungi, but she also was known for her contribution to penicillin research, primarily in the identification of effective species and strains of penicillium. However, she was first an ecologist from the University of Wisconsin School of Human Ecology, and most of her work had a decidedly ecological bent. She also was an avid naturalist and crusader for species and habitat preservation.

Christensen was hired at the University of Wyoming in 1963 and had an exemplary career in teaching and research until her retirement in 1989. She was an outstanding teacher and researcher of mycology. She was the first woman faculty member to be hired in the Department of Botany.

As her career as a mycologist and microbial ecologist evolved, Christensen navigated the academic ladder with distinction, first becoming an outstanding teacher of not only mycology, but also botanical subjects including dendrology, phycology, plant morphology and general botany. She became a truly unique researcher whose expanded scope of scientific interests and knowledge embraced not only the subjects of taxonomy, plant pathology and applied botany, but also of ecology, which at that time was a scientific discipline reserved primarily for men.

For more information, call Professor David Williams at (307) 766-2494 or email

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