Lab Personnel


Brandon is originally from Oklahoma and a history graduate from Oklahoma State University in 1991. He earned his PhD degree in Botany at the University of Washington under the guidance of Drs. Joe Ammirati and Ben Hall in 2003. Brandon spent five years as a postdoc at Clark University in David Hibbett’s lab in Worcester, Massachusetts and was hired at the University of Tennessee in 2008 to do fungal systematics and evolution.


About Brandon Matheny

About Rachel Swenie

Rachel is originally from Chicago and a recent transplant to Knoxville. She earned an undergraduate degree in photographic art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Rachel joined the lab early in 2015 and has performed a myriad of roles including laboratory technician, herbarium curator, and researcher conducting an independent project on the taxonomic and genetic diversity in the Hedgeohog mushroom genus Hydnum (Cantharellales). Rachel is now a first-year PhD student in EEB and an NSF-GRFP award recipient.

A gnome fond of mushrooms, Brandon, Roy Watling, and Joshua Birkebak in Roy’s backyard in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Neale Bougher, Brandon, and Martin Ryberg in southwest Western Australia.

Enjing is a visiting Associate Professor from Jilin Agricultural University in Jilin Province of China with research interests in fungal taxonomy and systematics and domestication of mushroom species. She received a year-long stipend from the China Scholarship Council to learn more about fungal molecular systematics in Brandon’s laboratory. Here, Enjing will explore species-level relationships among east Asian Pholiota and genus-level relationships in the Strophariaceae, a family that is in likely need of revision. She is accompanied in Knoxville with her son, Martyn.

About Enjing Tian

About Becca Atkins

Becca Atkins, shown left holding the Lepista in the photo from Andrews Ridge at Norris Dam State Park, is an EEB undergraduate and will be working in the lab spring semester 2019 doing systematic research on Sarcodon quercinofibulatus, an ectomycorrhizal species of Thelephorales that was recently described as new from mediterranean Europe. However, we have now detected this species from east Tennessee in oak-hickory-beech forests and from GenBank sequences of numerous isolates from Mexico. The species has been confused with or referred to as Sarcodon imbricatus in the past. Becca is a great field collector and patient at the microscope. Her research will be supported by the Hesler Botany Research Fund.

About Rhea Hester

Rhea is an EEB undergraduate student who will be working  in the lab spring 2019 collecting and documenting assorted winter fungi. Rhea took Brandon’s fungal diversity course in the fall and often was bringing in all sorts of mushroom-forming fungi to learn more about them. She is also learning German, which is a very useful language in taxonomic mycology. Hopefully, we’ll actually have a photo up of Rhea soon.