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First Puerto Rican woman to be named president of Mycological Society of America

Yomarie Bernier-Casillas's picture
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Dr. Sharon A. Cantrell became the first Puerto Rican woman to be appointed to the presidency of the Mycologycal Society of America, an organization that brings together scientists dedicated to the study of fungi and which was founded in 1932. Dr. Cantrell is a professor at the School of Natural Sciences and Technology of the Universidad del Turabo in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. She obtained her baccalaureate (Biology) and masters (Biology / Mycology) at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. In 1996 she completed his PhD in Phytopathology - Mycology at the University of Georgia in Athens. Currently her research is directed to fungal ecology, climate change, extreme environments, taxonomy and systematics.

Her scientific career has 40 publications, 28 of them as the main author. Among these publications are some where she has described about 20 new species of fungus from Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. In 2008, she was recognized by the Lady's in Education in Puerto Rico (1 out of 10) and a distinguished mycologist by the Puerto Rican Society of Mycology. In 2010, she received a special distinction from the Puerto Rican Association of Women in Science and Technology. She has obtained funds from federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Education (Co-director) to improve the quality of education at the university level and provide equipment for the advancement of science.

Within the academy she held positions as director of the Department of Biology (2003-2007), Dean of the Center for Doctoral Studies (2010-2013) and recently as Vice-Rector of the Center for Graduate Studies and Research (2013-2018), all in the University of Turabo.

She has served as a mentor to students at different academic levels. Among them, 19 students at the undergraduate level, 14 students at the master's level, and 14 students at the doctoral level.

In 2014, Dr. Cantrell was selected vice president of the International Mycology Association (the largest mushroom biology society). She will continue in office until 2022. As vice president, she fought to bring the International Congress of Mycology to Puerto Rico, who competed with other countries in Asia. During the month of July (16-21), Puerto Rico was for the first time the headquarters of the International Congress of Mycology at the Convention Center of Puerto Rico. The activity counted with the participation of more than 900 people representing 46 countries. Despite the setbacks after Hurricane Maria, the activity was a success thanks to the collaboration of professors and students who once again demonstrated that Puerto Rico is recovering.

As part of the Congress, the next board of officers (2018-2019) of the Mycologycal Society of America was selected. Dr. Cantrell became the first Puerto Rican woman to hold the position of president. We wish her much success and continue to cultivate curiosity and interest in the world of fungiu. Congratulations!!