News Sentinel: Hughes Among Scientists Studying GSMNP After Wildfires

The Knoxville News Sentinel recently featured Karen Hughes, a mycologist and professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, in a video interview and written article.

Hughes is one of many scientists conducting research in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park following the November 2016 wildfires. Her research focuses on fungi that comes up uniquely after fires. 

She has received funding for this research through a National Science Foundation grant. Her team of three has been in the woods about once a week going back to January, even before the grant funding was approved.

Hughes’ quest is multi-faceted. One aspect is to determine whether these post-fire fungi are native to the region or invasives. It might also be that the pyronema is not really pyronema at all but something unique to the area.

“This is one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world. It has species here that are not found anywhere else,” Hughes said.