Fighting Fungi at university labs at family event for UK Fungus Day

Fighting Fungi at university labs at family event for UK Fungus Day

World-leading fungi research is being showcased in a fun and innovative way at a family fun event to mark UK Fungus Day. 

On October 8, the University of Exeter will open its labs to give fungus enthusiasts a behind-the-scenes look at the research being conducted at the Medical Research Council's Centre for Medical Mycology (MRC CMM).

The national event features a wide range of events in Exeter, from games, crafts and fungi forays on campus to a film festival.

As part of the day, families will have the chance to become doctors for the day with the help of the University of Exeter’s interactive pocket guide to fungal infections.

The new electronic game called ‘Fight the Fungus’ will challenge families and friends in a race against time to diagnose a patient with a fungal disease.

Co-created by the researchers at the Centre for Medical Mycology and the design team at the University of Exeter, the online game was designed to open a dialogue about the work with their local communities and wider society, and to enrich perspectives.

One of the game developers and the Public Engagement and Communications Manager, Michele Waters, said: “We’re very excited to debut the Fight the Fungus game at our UK Fungus Day event. Engaging the public with our research is crucial to the MRC CMM mission. We want to raise awareness and increase understanding as much as we can to highlight the importance of fungal pathogens and the challenges we face in controlling them’’.

The event will also feature a wide range of fungus-related activities.

Sasha Slater, who studies Biochemistry at the University of Exeter, is ‘’thrilled’’ to have her new trivia card game called ‘FunGus Facts’ to be played at the exhibition. The idea of the game is to put your wits and knowledge of human pathogens against your opponents, with top scores linked to those with the most pathogenic fungi in their hands.

Sasha said: ‘’There are hundreds of different species of fungi and some are so similar to one another that learning to know which one is which is hard. Nevertheless, fungi is a fascinating kingdom and many species captivate us with their bright colours, bizarre shapes and overall excitement which is what I wanted to implement in my card game.’’

The event will also feature a series of short forays to highlight some of the stars of the fungi world on the University’s ‘best-gardened campus in Britain’, Streatham campus. This will be coordinated with the Devon Fungus group, a small team affiliated with the British Mycology Society and the Fungus Conservation Trust.

Other activities include fungi-inspired art and craft exhibitions, produced by students from the Arts University Plymouth where one student has worked collaboratively with fungi itself, allowing the shape-shifting qualities to co-create a sculpture.

The event will take place from 11am to 3pm on the October 8 at the Geoffrey Pope building at the University of Exeter.

Later on in the day, a collection of fungus-related films have been put together to host a film festival at Exeter Phoenix from 4 pm on the October 8. The selected sequence of short films has tapped into the creative side of humanity showing the connections we make with fungi.

Event organiser Professor Mark Ramsdale, Associate Professor in Molecular Microbiology, said: "We’re thrilled to be hosting an event to mark such an important day. Thousands of species of fungi are known to grow in the UK, with many more undiscovered. Through UK Fungus Day, we are sharing knowledge about the importance of fungi in our lives and, in turn, we want to inspire others to help preserve native fungi, and improve our scientific knowledge of these unique and remarkable organisms"

To find out more about UK Fungus Day, please visit www.thefungalthreat.com or www.ukfungusday.co.uk.

Date: 3 October 2022

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