The Arizona Mushroom Society, Inc., was founded as an Arizona non-profit corporation in 2015. However, it was not the first group for amateur mycologists in our state. It is the direct successor to the former Arizona Mushroom Club, an informal affiliation of mushroom enthusiasts that was founded and directed by Chester Leathers, Ph.D., for some thirty years prior to our Society's establishment.
Dr. Leathers had a long and distinguished career as a Professor of Microbiology at Arizona State University, and is now a retired Professor Emeritus. He trained a number of currently active professional mycologists, and also served as a well-respected environmental consultant with specialized knowledge of molds and coccidiomycosis. The AMS recognizes him as our Founding President Emeritus, who taught safe mushroom foraging to thousands of amateur fungal collectors in our state and laid the foundation for our Society's ongoing success. He holds a lifetime appointment to our Board of Directors.
In August 2017, Dr. Scott Bates of Purdue served as the foray mycologist for a very successful NAMA Regional Foray held in the White Mountains of Arizona. Dr. Bates earned his Ph.D. at Arizona State under Dr. Leathers, and holds his mentor in such high regard that at the end of his visit here, he donated his honorarium back to the AMS and requested that we use it to establish a graduate student scholarship in honor of Dr. Leathers. The Board of Directors agreed that this was an appropriate recognition of Dr. Leathers' contributions to amateur mycology in Arizona, and a worthy addition to the scientific and educational aspects of our mission as a non-profit organization. Many more donations followed, and we have established a tradition of regular fund-raiser events to add to the endowment for this scholarship.
This scholarship is an unrestricted grant (currently $500) that is made annually to a graduate student at one of the three Arizona public universities who is undertaking research in mycology or a related field of study. Students of microbiology, plant science, plant pathology, forestry, botany, lichenology, environmental engineering, ecology, or any other similar specialty that has a connection to the Kingdom of Fungi are welcome to apply. There is no other obligation, although we would be eager to have the recipient give a short presentation at one of our meetings or attend one of our forays to instruct us about their field of study. Applications are due by February 1st each year. The grant will be awarded by March 1st, upon a vote of the Scholarship Committee, which consists of Dr. Leathers himself, the President of the AMS, and the academic mycologist who serves as the at-large member of our Board of Directors (currently Dr. Bates).
Anyone interested in applying for this award should submit a C.V. along with a one-page description of their research and how it would be supported by this grant. Send your application by email to the AMS President on or before February 1 each year.
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We welcome donations to this fund from the public or from those with a professional or business connection to the field of mycology, and appreciate their assistance in publicizing it among the academic community at our state universities.