Press Release

Field Museum Vice President of Science and Curator of Lichenized Fungi H. Thorsten Lumbsch, Ph.D. has been elected as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellow, a distinguished lifetime honor within the scientific community.

“Congratulations to Dr. Lumbsch on this well-deserved recognition of his outstanding work and contributions to the field of evolutionary biology,” says Field Museum President and CEO Julian Siggers, Ph.D.

Lumbsch joins a class of 502 scientists, engineers, and innovators across 24 AAAS disciplines recognized for their efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications in service to society. Lumbsch’s work with lichen has resulted in distinguished contributions to the field of evolutionary biology, particularly in improving our understanding of species delimitation and the evolutionary history of symbiotic fungi, according to AAAS.

Lumbsch has been fascinated by lichens (often overlooked but ecologically important) since childhood, publishing his first scientific paper at age 15. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Essen in 1993, and served as an assistant professor at the University of Duisburg-Essen before joining the Field. His publications number more than 480 papers, 20 book chapters, and five books. He has active research collaborations in Thailand, Spain, and Kenya, and is an investigator on research grants in the U.S. Brazil, and Spain. Fieldwork has taken him to more than a dozen countries including Australia, India, Kenya, Thailand, Vietnam, and also Antarctica, and he has collaborated on the description of more than 280 new lichen species. Thorsten is managing editor of the journal MycoKeys, a member of a dozen other editorial boards, and past president of the International Association for Lichenology.

In addition to his administrative and research roles, Lumbsch is also active as a mentor to the scientists of tomorrow. He is a lecturer at the University of Chicago, and is active in advising graduate students there and at the University of Illinois–Chicago. He also supervises postdoctoral scientists at the Museum and participated in K-12 educational programs, and served as content adviser for the exhibit Lichens: The Coolest Things You've Never Heard Of (2014–2017).

Lumbsch received the Gerhard Hess Award from the German Science Foundation for Outstanding Young Scientists in 1999, and in 2017 he was named a Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researcher.