Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan
Most Excellent Order
Today is the birthday of Dame Helen Gwynne-Vaughan - a prominent English botanist and mycologist. She died in 1967.
Gwynne-Vaughn also helped form the University of London's Suffrage Society - where she was the first female professor. During #WWI, she also helped establish the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. Due to her extraordinary wartime leadership, Gwynne-Vaughan was one of the first women to receive a Military Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire award.
Early on in her botanical career, Gwynn-Vaughan researched rust fungi. Rust is a plant parasite that invades a plant and uses it as a host for its survival. Rust actually invades the plant's cells, and it steals nutrients from the plant. The plant treats the rust like an infection. Sometimes the plants are able to fight off the rust. Other times, the rust wins, and the plants succumb to the Rust. Rust destroys 15 million tons of wheat each year.
The University of London recently released a lovely article about Gywnne-Vaughan called "Fungi and the Forces," which revealed that Gwynne-Vaughan was as accomplished in the armed forces as she was in the theater of fungi. In fact, a handful of fungi are named for her - like Palaeoendogone gwynne-vaughaniae and Pleurage gwynne-vaughaniae.
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