Tom Bruns is a professor in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He received an MS in Botany from the University of Minnesota in 1982, where he worked on insect mycophagy in the boletes, and a PhD in Botany from the University of Michigan in 1987, where he worked on the molecular systematics of Suillus
. He served as a postdoctoral associate at UC Berkeley from 1987-1989, where he developed PCR methods for use in fungal systematics and ecology, before joining the faculty in 1989. His publication record includes over 180 papers primarily in the fields of fungal ecology and systematics: Google Web Page
. He is best known for his work in ectomycorrhizal systems where he has contributed to our understanding of community and population structure, spore banks, mycoheterotrophic plants, spore dispersal, and molecular method development. His current work is focused on post-fire saprobic fungal communities, and involves experimental fire manipulations, coupled with gene expression and soil metabolomics.
He has mentored 18 PhD students and 19 postdoctoral associates. He currently teaches three courses on mycology at Berkeley and has won the Weston Teaching Award from the Mycological Society of America in 2007, and the Distinguished Teaching Award from the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley for his efforts. He served as president of the Mycological Society of America in 2011-2012, the president of the International Mycorrhiza Society from 2015-2017, and received the Distinguished Mycologist Award in 2018 from the Mycological Society of America for his career achievements in the field. More details on his early path into mycology can be gleaned from his interview for the Oral History for Mycology: Youtube Video