SPORES

Our program

S.P.O.R.E.S. (Society Prioritizes Our Recruitment of Every Scholar) aims to attract undergraduate students from underrepresented and underserved communities (mentees) to attend the annual Mycological Society of America meeting and become MSA members. We will recruit established MSA members to act as mentors (PhD candidates, or mycologists with PhDs) to introduce and guide mentees at the MSA annual meeting, facilitating friendly and productive experiences with the goal of leading to long-term MSA membership and participation.

Mission

The mission of SPORES is to provide opportunities for first-time undergraduate students to be introduced to MSA by current mycologists (mentors) in a friendly and constructive environment, promoting a sense of belonging in society with the goal of retaining them as long-term members. To accomplish the mission of SPORES, we request MSA’s support mentee membership and annual meeting attendance. By providing financial aid, MSA will actively invest in its mission of promoting science equity and diversity in the society.

How does SPORES work?

Specifically, SPORES provides opportunities for undergraduate students from historically underrepresented communities (mentees) to be introduced to MSA for the first time by attending the MSA meeting with the assistance of a mentor (a current mycologist) in a friendly and constructive environment. The ultimate goal is to foster a sense of belonging in the society and to retain mentees as long-term mycologists.

What does SPORES cover?

SPORES covers MSA meeting registration, one year membership, banquet, and foray for mentees. For mentors, SPORES covers the cost of the banquet. The SPORES committee is aware that providing traveling funds would greatly benefit mentees and is working hard to secure additional funding. This page will be updated if additional resources are available for the 2024 SPORES program.


Mentees

Mentees are underrepresented undergraduate students that are not MSA members and have not attended MSA meetings. Mentees are matched with a mentor and receive funds to cover MSA meeting registration (including the banquet) and 1-year MSA membership. Preference will be given to students attending institutions nearby the MSA meeting location (June 9–13, 2024 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada).

Students interested in becoming SPORES mentees should fill the application form, that requires information on 1) scientific interests and background, 2) personal interests, 3) what they hope to gain from the program and mentor, and how it will benefit them in the long term, and 4) what attributes are they looking for in a mentor and why. This information will assist the SPORES committee in matching mentees to mentors. Mentees will be selected through a lottery and all eligible applicants will be considered.

Mentee duties include:

  • Attend all days of the MSA meeting and become a member of MSA
  • Respond to their mentor’s initial contact and have a pre-conference call/videocall to get to know each other
  • Attend a 1-hour informational session about a month before the MSA meeting organized and led by the SPORES Program Committee
  • Be responsive in communication with their assigned mentor
  • Fill out the mentee pre-meeting and post-meeting surveys
  • Join the WhatsApp group chat used by the SPORES Committee to share general information and announcements
  • Attend the SPORES welcoming and wrap-up sessions during the conference
  • Attend the MSA Awards ceremony to be recognized as a 2024 SPORES mentee
  • Submit SPORES annual assessment surveys for 3 years

Mentors

Mentors are current MSA members (PhD candidates or mycologists with PhDs).

Mentor applications require information on 1) personal and scientific interests, 2) description of mentoring and/or training experience, 3) what they hope to gain from the program and mentee, and how being a mentor will benefit them in the long term, and 4) a letter of support from a former mentee or mentor, advisor, supervisor, or collaborator.

Mentors will be selected to best match the mentees’ interests and assigned with two mentees per MSA meeting.

Mentor duties include:

  • Attend all days of the MSA meeting
  • Attend a 1-hour informational session about a month before the MSA meeting organized and led by the SPORES Program Committee
  • Contact their mentees via email to introduce yourself and set up a videocall or call before the meeting
  • Meet with their mentees ahead of the MSA annual meeting
  • Fill out the mentor pre-meeting and post-meeting surveys and submit a paragraph (500 words) about their experience
  • Join a WhatsApp group chat used by the SPORES Committee to share general information and announcements
  • Attend the SPORES welcome and wrap-up sessions during the conference
  • Meet with mentees at the opening reception and join them at the plenary and Karling lectures and respective coffee break
  • Submit the SPORES post-meeting survey and 500 words about their experience (no later than 30 days after the final day of the annual MSA meeting)

SPORES timeline

Activity Date
Deadline for mentor and mentee submissions March 1, 2024
Notification of selected participants March 18, 2024
Preconference mentor informational session April, 2024
Preconference mentee informational session May, 2024
Pre-meeting survey to mentors and mentees May 27, 2024
MSA Annual Meeting (Toronto, Canada)
  • Foray
  • Welcome session
  • Opening reception
  • Plenary and Karling Lectures
  • Program wrap-up meeting
       ◦ Fill out post-meeting survey
  • Banquet
June 9–13, 2024
Mentee annual surveys 2024, 2025, 2026


Apply to become a SPORES mentor or mentee

Applications are open

Apply now