Maya Elson is a teacher, naturalist, mycologist, organizer and lover of the wild. Maya has been co-directing CoRenewal since 2016, where she is dedicated to enacting effective and just solutions to environmental and social crises by working in collaboration with fungi. As one of the founding members of the Radical Mycology network, she’s worked on various fungal cultivation and educational projects in Olympia, WA and the San Francisco Bay area. She’s worked as a campaign organizer with a number of climate justice and wilderness defense struggles over many years. Maya is the founder of Wild Child Santa Cruz, a nature immersion program for homeschoolers. As an instructor of Mycopermaculture, Fungal Biology, Mycorenewal and Mushroom Identification for both adults and children, she has experience writing curriculum and giving mycology-related workshops. She is currently studying Ecopsychology, leading mushroom hunts with ForageSF, leading rites of passage programs with Gaia Girls Passages, and raising an enchanted toddler.
Mia Maltz studied at the University of California, Irvine where she received her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, with an emphasis on Ecological Restoration and Fungi. Her dissertation work in Kathleen Treseder’s Lab of Fungi, Ecosystems, and Global Change looked at the effects of habitat fragmentation on fungal community composition and function. For her dissertation research, she investigated whether restoration techniques affect fungi and she evaluated the efficacy of methods for restoring mycorrhizal fungal function within degraded landscapes. Mia is interested in how microbes mediate important biogeochemical reactions relevant to global change studies. She previously taught undergraduate Ecology Lecture and Lab and the Biology Capstone course entitled: Underground Currencies: Plant and Microbial Exchange at Chapman University’s Schmid College of Science and Technology. She is also a postdoctoral scholar at UC Riverside, co-advised by the Aronson and Allen labs. In Emma Aronson’s Lab, she explores microbial biogeochemical reactions within the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory. Through UCR’s Center for Conservation Biology, she has been collaborating with Edie Allen and Mike Allen to investigate the potential for smut fungi to control invasive brome grasses. Mia currently collaborates with Sydney Glassman's fungal ecology lab to investigate the effects of catastrophic wildfires on microbial community composition and function.
Leila Darwish is a community organizer, bioremediation educator, author, and disaster response and recovery worker with a deep commitment to providing accessible and transformative tools for communities dealing with the toxic contamination of their lands and waters, and responding to natural and environmental disasters. Her work is rooted in environmental and social justice, inspired by the power of community action and regenerative earth repair. Leila published her first book “Earth Repair: A Grassroots Guide to Healing Toxic and Damaged Landscapes” in 2013, and has taught numerous bioremediation and oil spill response courses in communities across North America.
Willoughby Arevalo is passionate about the ecology of fungi, the ways they shape our world and the ways we shape theirs. His lifelong friendship with fleshy fungi has led him down a mycelial pathway – from a start in field identification and mushroom hunting, branching into cuisine, DIY cultivation, farming, education, writing and eco-arts. In his thirty years of self-motivated inquiry and intimate lived experience with fungi, he has spent the last decade prioritizing sharing mycology with people in communities across North America This has manifested in numerous presentations, art projects, teaching tours, collaborations, gatherings, and his new book, DIY Mushroom Cultivation, out now from New Society Publishers. Between the mycology and art work, and caring for his kid, Uma, he works part time on an organic vegetable farm. Originally from Arcata, California (Traditional Wiyot and Yurok Territory), he lives as a guest on Unceded Coast Salish Territory in Vancouver, Canada.
Brendan O'Brien holds a M.S. degree from The University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources where he studied how mushroom farming can be integrated with organics recycling for nutrient recovery and food production. Brendan is interested in soil and aquatic ecology, biogeochemistry, nutrient cycling, and applied mycology. His research focuses on decomposition and ‘upcycling’ of organic wastes and how application of derived products may affect native soil microbial communities and downstream water quality. His work also investigates experimental methods designed to integrate fungi into waste management and resource recovery practices. Brendan earned a B.S. from The Evergreen State College in 2008, where he focused on environmental analysis and ecology. In 2012 Brendan ventured to the Bolivian Amazon as part of a fungal biodiversity survey, where he developed a deep affinity for the region’s astounding biological and cultural diversity. Brendan is excited to work closely with CoRenewal to remediate petroleum contamination in Ecuador, and to engage local stewards in research at the nexus of applied mycology, waste management, and bioremediation to improve soil health, water quality, and food security around the world.
Danielle Stevenson is an applied mycologist and the founder of D.I.Y. Fungi, which offers education and mushroom cultures to help people of all ages grow mushrooms for food, medicine, and earth renewal. Through D.I.Y Fungi, and her diverse work as a food systems consultant and community organizer, Danielle develops projects which build community capacity to address interconnected environmental problems of waste and soil and water pollution, especially where they interact with food systems, ecological systems and community well-being. Currently these include ‘Healing City Soils’- a soil science literacy project which provides free heavy metal testing for farmers and gardeners, and several low-tech, accessible myco-remediation protocols to address specific toxic waste products in partnership with colleges, businesses, and townships. She is a board member of CoRenewal, and other efforts to incorporate fungi into food security and remediation programs in North America and around the world, including South Africa and a food waste to myco-protein project at UC Riverside through the Global Food Initiative. Danielle is currently a PhD Student in Environmental Toxicology at University of California, Riverside as part of the Soil Biogeochemistry Group, where she studies how arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi can inhibit heavy metal uptake into food crops. She is also fundraising chair for the Association for Women in Science (Riverside Chapter), a Foundation for Food and Agriculture Fellow, a Global Food Initiative fellow, an EDGE institute award recipient, and a previous Public Lab Community Soil Science Fellow.
Jacquelyn Burmeister has recently received her MBA and an M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from Clark University, and has a passion for working on sustainable community development projects both domestically and internationally. She received her B.S. in Biology from Duke University, where she studied soil biogeochemistry and went on to work as a technician in limnology, marine biotechnology and herpetology laboratories. Jacquelyn has worked throughout Central and South America on projects ranging from protected areas management and water infrastructure to waste management and microfinance. In 2015 Jacquelyn spent five months working with the Amazon Mycorenewal Project in Ecuador. There, she worked with the Program Manager to develop organizational structures and establish local contacts, as well as initiate a feasibility assessment for establishing a network of mushroom cultivators for environmental remediation and economic development.
Taylor Bright is a multifaceted citizen science mycologist, ecological steward, naturalist, teacher, speaker, writer and artist devoted to the study of fungi and conservation of our Living Earth. She holds a BS in Biology and Environmental Science from The University of Central Florida, where she studied plant and soil science in the Universities Arboretum. Taylor is currently secretary and active researcher for Bay Area Applied Mycology; a mycological organization focused on community education and implementing mycoremediation projects around the San Fransisco Bay Area. She holds fungal ecology and cultivation workshops, facilitates and educates at numerous fungus fairs, is an enthusiastic forager and wild botanical & fungal medicine maker. Her work and focus of interest currently lies in low-tech, low-cost, practical and regenerative mycoremediation techniques that can easily be employed in both small and large scale remediation initiatives. As well, she aspires to liberate others by sharing this knowledge and teaching these techniques publicly as an essential part of the global regenerative movement.