Senior Wins Fulbright Grant to Conduct Research in Slovenia

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Lindsey Longway to research fungi’s use in restoring contaminated soil

Lindsey LongwaySenior Lindsey Longway was awarded a coveted 2011–2012 Fulbright research grant. She’ll spend the next year studying and researching fungi at the University of Ljubljana. Longway will focus on using fungi to restore forest areas and polluted land.

Fulbright—America’s flagship exchange program—fosters international research and collaboration, and funds scholars who demonstrate exceptional leadership potential. “I want to use my education to do something beneficial,” Longway emphasizes. “My greatest area of knowledge is in mycology [the study of fungi], so my hope is to figure out how to use fungi to restore places that have been damaged by human activity.”

Longway received a study/research grant, a prestigious award usually reserved for graduate students. The first Simon’s Rock student to win in the research category, Lindsey joins the seven students who have been awarded Fulbrights in the teaching category over the past decade. Over and over again, Simon’s Rock scholars successfully compete for major national fellowships and advanced research grants.

Longway has already conducted in-depth research about the place of fungi in forest ecosystems. Her Senior Thesis, Where Have All the Mushrooms Gone?, explored the causes and effects of the absence of mushrooms on campus following last year’s drought.

She is particularly interested in working with mycorrhyzal fungi, a group of organisms that form symbiotic relationships with plants. These fungi hyper-accumulate heavy metals deposited in the soil by pollution. “My Fulbright project proposes to propagate fungi in a polluted area,” Longway explains. “They draw contaminants out of the ground; eventually you can pick the mushrooms to remove heavy metals from the soil.”

Longer term plans for Longway include pursuing a master’s degree in forest ecology and continuing to put her education to use to serve others and restore fragile ecologies.