University of Maine’s Joyce Longcore Honored by the Mycological Society of America

Joyce Longcore, an associate research professor at the University of Maine, has received the 2022 Distinguished Mycologist Award, one of the highest honors granted by the Mycological Society of America. Mycology is the study of fungi.

Dr. Longcore has spent decades studying various species of microscopic, aquatic fungi from a group called Chytridiomycota, also known as chytrids. She isolates them into pure culture, examines their developmental morphology with a light microscope, collaborates with colleagues to identify their molecular characteristics, and characterizes their taxonomy.

In 1997, Dr. Longcore investigated infected tissue from a blue poison dart frog sent by pathologists from the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. She was able to isolate a chytrid pathogen from that tissue into pure culture. That work led Longcore and her colleagues to describe the chytrid that is responsible for widespread amphibian die-offs worldwide. This work earned her the Golden Goose Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The award recognizes people doing federally funded research who have made unexpected and incredible scientific breakthroughs.

Dr. Longcore graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Michigan in 1960. She earned a master’s degree in botany from Indiana University in 1963. She dropped out of academia when her first son was born and became a stay-at-home mother for the next 17 years, during which time the family moved to Orono, Maine, home of the University of Maine. She took a research job in a university laboratory and eventually earned her Ph.D. in 1991.

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