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Senior Symposia programming is developed by our board of senior advisors, but is open to participants of all ages. We regret that we can not accept cash or check payment at the door at Senior Symposia events. Unless otherwise indicated, all workshops take place from 2-4pm.

Blight: Fungi and the Coming Pandemic

– with Emily Monosson


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Thursday February 29, 20242-4pmJohn Zon Community Center

Fungi are amazing, from colorful mushrooms to those necessary for healthy ecosystems. But some cause devastating pandemics and epidemics in wildlife, forest trees and food crops. In the mid-2000s little brown bats began to disappear from Western Massachusetts and elsewhere. In time, their decline would be linked to a fungal pathogen. While deadly fungal infections in humans are relatively rare—for reasons author Emily Monosson will discuss—we too are increasingly at risk. Amidst the destruction there is some hope. From human interventions and natural processes, some species may survive the onslaught. And the more we know, the better equipped we will be to protect species at risk. Local artist Julie Kumble, illustrator for Blight, will also share her process and samples of illustrations.

About the Presenter

Emily Monosson is an environmental toxicologist, an independent scholar at the Ronin Institute and a faculty adjunct at UMass. She writes about how we impact the environment, the negative consequences of our actions, and how we might reduce our collective human footprint. Her most recent book, Blight: Fungi and the Coming Pandemic (2023), is about deadly fungal infections which in large part are enabled by us.

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