Dianna Smith
Mushroom Educator


Dianna Smith's educational background includes an advanced degree from Tufts University in the history of science and technology with particular emphasis on developments in premodern Western Europe and China. She studied Chinese at Harvard University and worked as research assistant to Professor Nathan Sivin at M.I.T., author of numerous publications on early Chinese science.
Dianna studied mycology with Gary Lincoff (1942-2019), author of the National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushrooms of North America and several other books, during late winter workshops at COMA's Mushroom University, an educational program she created with Gary and managed for the club over the course of several years. It is still going strong! Some of the mycology lessons included on her educational website www.fungikingdom.net were inspired by these studies. In 2014, she also studied with Alan and Arleen Bessette, authors of about 20 published field guides, at Eagle Hill Research Center in Steuben, Maine. She attends several organized annual foray seminars throughout North America each year where invited mycologists and researchers share their observations and discoveries.
Teaching is another way Dianna expands her knowledge of fungi, their functions, their niches and their mutual interactions with other organisms. When time permits, she updates her popular website, www.fungikingdom.net, with lessons, articles, photos and descriptions of fungi. She prepares two or three new presentations each year on topics she wants to research. She taught two mushroom identification workshops at Eagle Hill with Ascomycete expert, Dr. Roz Lowen at Eagle Hill Research Center in Maine. She continues to write and give programs on various topics in mycology for the PVMA and other mycology clubs in the east, for universities, public schools, state parks, preserves, environmental centers, and garden clubs. She also keeps herself engaged and occupied by reading scientific and writing articles on the topic of medical fungi. As chair of the Medicinal Mushroom Committee of The North American Mycological Association (NAMA) over the past three years, four of her articles have been published in its peer-reviewed journal, McIlvainea. She is currently in the midst of writing a book on fungi.
Before moving to Northampton in western Massachusetts from Croton-on-Hudson N.Y. at the end of 2012, Dianna Smith was producer and editor of her own community cable show called SCAPES. For 22 years (1990-2012) it featured several hundred of half-hour shows on master gardening, botany and mycology in NY and Connecticut. After filming and editing her first show on mycology in 2002-2003, she was 'hooked' on fungi. She joined the Connecticut-Westchester Mycological Association (COMA) and read every field guide she could find. Soon she became the chief mushroom identifier for the club.
Dianna served as Membership Chairperson of COMA for two years, Vice President for two years and four years as President. She was recipient of NAMA's Harry and Elsie Knighton Service Award for the contributions she made to COMA. From 2012 to 2017 Dianna was editor-in-chief of NAMA's bimonthly publication, THE MYCOPHILE, for which she won the NAMA 2012 President's Award. She served as President of NEMF, the Northeast Mycological Federation (2015-2018) assisting associated mycology clubs from eastern Canada to Washington, DC to organize the annual Sam Ristich Foray on a rotating basis. She was also webmaster for the organization. (See http://www.nemf.org)
Dianna has won several awards for her fungi photos. Her documented fungi finds while with COMA have been viewed well over two million times! (See http://www.pbase.com/comafungi). These and around 1,500 other photos of fungi common throughout the northeast can also be found on www.fungikingdom.net. Her photos can be also seen in several recently published mushroom field guides of Britain and North America, including Michael Kuo’s 100 Edible Mushrooms, Gary Lincoff’s The Complete Mushroom Hunter, Michael Beug, Alan and Arleen Bessette’s Ascomycete Fungi of North America, the Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushrooms of North America digital application for smart devices. Some can also be found on Michael Kuo's informative mushroom identification website www.mushroomexpert.com.
Dianna is co-founder with Hadley resident Michael Ostrowski of the Pioneer Valley Mycological Association (https://www.pvmamyco.org/). They have established a Facebook presence for the club at https://www.facebook.com/groups/209812692499260/. If you are interested in having her lead a walk or give a program on mushrooming or any other mycology topic, contact her at dianna.smith@comcast.net.