Biology, 2015

Lily Clarke’s passion for biology started in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Montana. Daily hikes were part of the curriculum, and Lily would extend her time outdoors by foraging for the morel mushrooms that grew in the wildfire-ravaged areas surrounding her home. At Lewis & Clark, Lily found the name for her field of study: ethnomycology. Her professors encouraged her to deepen her research into people’s relationships with morels, which she was able to do with help from a President’s scholarship and an internship funded by a Miller Award. Contacts at her Wilderness Society internship led to a job at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany after graduation. Lily also received a Fulbright Research Scholarship to study the environmental impact of morel mushrooms and their use in rural communities in Nepal.  Currently, she is enrolled in an interdisciplinary systems ecology master’s program at the University of Montana and may pursue a PhD in the future.  Lily wants “to inspire people to study the obscure—we’re finding that the obscure is becoming more and more important.” Photo credit: Kurt Wilson, The Missoulian