An image of a mycorrhizal network, with a web of whitish strands against a dark backdrop.

The Future is Fungi: The Rise and Rhizomes of Mushroom Culture (Online)

Event Details

Mushrooms aren’t just in your garden anymore–they’re everywhere, making star appearances in books, movies, TV, graphic novels, video games. More scientific experts than ever before are examining how mushrooms affect human physiology. Social media is awash with mushroom hunters teaching followers how to find and safely eat fungi. Yes, mushrooms are everywhere, but why? What is it about mushrooms that spark our imaginations? Why do they inspire both wonder and terror? And what might their future look like on our ever-changing planet?

Co-sponsored by Orion Magazine and ASU’s Center for Science and Imagination, this event seeks to answer these questions and more, bringing together biologist and author Merlin Sheldrake, scholar and naturalist Kaitlin Smith, and best-selling novelist Jeff VanderMeer to discuss the fascinating and sometimes contradictory ways in which mushrooms are shaping our cultures and our world. The conversation will be moderated by Corey Pressman, a faculty member of University of Portland’s Integrative Health and Wellness program.

This virtual event is free and open to everyone. It begins at 10:00 am Pacific time, 1:00 pm Eastern. Register today!


Merlin Sheldrake is a biologist and author of Entangled Life, a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller, and winner of the Royal Society Book Prize and the Wainwright Prize. Merlin is a research associate of the Vrije University Amsterdam, and works with the Society for the Protection of Underground Networks and the Fungi Foundation.

Kaitlin Smith is a writer, scholar, naturalist, and founder of Storied Grounds—a Boston-based venture that delivers outdoor learning experiences and virtual tools that foster connection to place through folk knowledge and humanistic ideas. Kaitlin is also a PhD student in the history of science at Harvard and lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Called “the weird Thoreau” by the New Yorker, Jeff VanderMeer has written many bestselling and award-winning works of fiction, including the Southern Reach trilogy. His nonfiction on the environment has appeared in Orion, The Nation, Current Affairs, the Los Angeles Times, Esquire, and more.


Corey Pressman is an artist, author, and teacher at the school of integrative health and wellness at the University of Portland. His work at the university focuses on finding ways, through imagination, to manage stress and compassion fatigue for caregivers.