014 - Sandra Tuszynska

The Power of Mycology: Restoration of Earth & Human

Sandra Tuszynska is a microbiologist, with a specialisation in mycology. She can be found pursuing her passion for fungi and all living things at Woodfordia, home of the Woodford Folk Festival, in Queensland, Australia. 


Join Ben & Sandra as they dig deep into her journey through the wilds of microbiological research, her deep affinity for all forms of life, and how that love has led her to her current passion projects. Share her wisdom on the power of mushrooms to create life in every situation, including our own internal worlds, and get some expert tips on how you too can get neck-deep in glorious fungi from your own kitchen or backyard.


Find Sandra on her Facebook page, where she would be delighted to have you share your adventures in citizen science:







- studied agricultural science

- any life form - she’s into it!

- got a shock learning about food industry: cruelty to animals, antibiotics, and pesticides

- turned vegan

- wrote book on how we can survive on fruit - Fruitful Nutrition

- wanted to be part of reversing the damage



Developing interest in microbiology & mycology 

- microbes at a cellular level

- how they can break down toxins (heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides)

- possibilities of remediating damaged landscapes

- using fungi from Germany and Poland to research

- deep cellular structure, how organelles are affected

- saw her work as one part of the puzzle, adding to the full picture



Potential for research to be applied 

- her research was lab-based, not so much applied as yet

- she now has confidence in her results that they can be used to remediate the environment

- there are projects happening where people are doing so, some in Western Australia

- big possibility now of cleaning up entire landscapes, e.g. open mines leaching metals

- long-term dream of getting communities working on this, not relying on governments & companies



Current work

- environmental projects officer at Woodfordia, home of Woodford Folk Festival

- many projects on the go

- collaboration, raising awareness

- soil remediation using mycelium

- repairing erosion from dairy farming

- creating fungi gardens



Love in her work 

- sensitive to life forms: animals, nature, children

- passionate about watching life happen

- most excited about mycelium

- being present in the moment

- connecting to yourself & the world

- teaching us to connect to each other as humans

- our bodies are made up mostly of microbial life

- loving ourselves as a living colony

- the beauty of the support system we have



Restoring balance 

- nature is designed to restore balance, always

- using the logic of nature to break down some of the harshest man-made chemicals, because they all came from nature to start with

- mycelium devouring nutrients in plastic

- possibility of growing food out of plastic because of fungi

- more research needed

- show a new generation the possibilities, how quickly things could be reversed



Making it accessible

- Book: Peter McCoy - Radical Mycology

- basics that anyone can do

- mycology was taken out of universities in Australia a long time ago

- Sandra would love to see more courses, workshops, conferences

- pooling of ideas

- before you know it, we’re all doing a bit to restore the environment

- Book: Paul Stamets - Mycelium Running

- Phil Ross - building the world’s strongest bricks out of mycelium




- 500 acres

- former dairy farm, cycads killed to protect cattle

- vegetation & tree cover being replaced

- rainforest species being regenerated

- platform of education, workshops

- not-for-profit

- much work done by volunteers (tree-huggers!)

- tree-planting festivals

- caregivers of the land

- food festivals, all organic materials composted

- “closing the loops” as an example to society



Citizen science for listeners 

- soil regeneration: put all your organic material directly onto soil, cover with mulch, monitor the soil

- watch the mycelium grow & observe the broader impact

- can use human waste also - Sandra is a big fan of poo!

- just do one experiment for 6 months

- every life form requires food, water, and shelter: if you give it these, you can’t go wrong

- not just creating life but also creating habitats for that life

- Sandra has a Facebook page where she would be happy to see your citizen science projects.



Healing through fungi 

- Paul Stamets magic mushroom experience

- went from being a forester to preserving forests because of that experience

- not all benefits of mycology can be scientifically quantified

- psychiatry article: cases of micro-doses of psyllocibin to treat mental illnesses, makes us childlike and therefore emotionally connected to ourselves, and allows for healing

- the experience cured Paul Stamets stutter

- becoming a scientifically studied process

- starts with personal experiences, which is why citizen science is so important



Discussion of further projects 

- Ben: countertop system - air filtration through plants

- Sandra: growing bowls / cups of oyster mushrooms, feeding it wood-chips / sugar cane mulch/coffee

- possibilities of mycelium growing replacements for many common products e.g. styrofoam, leather

- experiments in making a filter out of mushroom mycelium to absorb oil spills

- cleansing environments so next generation are not born with diseases caused by toxins

- Sandra believes this will happen through citizens doing their part, not waiting for governments

- experiment in your own backyard & your own kitchen, and pass it onto a friend!


Closing remarks 

- be open to experience, like a child approaches the world with an open heart

- pursue your passion, whatever it is, because life is first created inside of each of us

Ben Klenner