For more than 30 years, Meredith Blackwell, the Boyd Professor at Louisiana State University, has done mycological research on the phylogeny, systematics, and natural history of fungi associated with arthropods. The fungi include minute ectoparasites and gut yeasts. She uses fieldwork, DNA sequencing, and life history studies to gather data to distinguish taxa and support hypotheses of relationships.
Fungi, essential organisms in our environment, are poorly understood. Introductory Mycology, by Constantine J. Alexopoulos, originally appeared in 1952, and it is arguably the most influential textbook in the discipline throughout the world. Four previous editions have been translated into five languages, and although the fourth edition (1996) is out-of-date, it is still widely used. There have been dramatic changes in fungal taxonomy since that edition, and an update is badly needed; Blackwell is undertaking it.
After completing her PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, Blackwell was a postdoctoral associate at the University of Florida; her first faculty position was at Hope College, in Michigan. She has been a program director at the National Science Foundation and served as the president of the International Mycological Society. The Mycological Society of America—where she is a fellow and has held a number of positions, including president—has honored Blackwell with awards for research and teaching. Blackwell is a centenary fellow of the British Mycological Society and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.