Professor Nicholas Money

Mushrooms make rain (and more fun facts on fungi)

Nicholas Money and students examine botany specimens in the field

Nicholas Money conducts a botany lab

It turns out that mushrooms can make rain. An expert in fungal biology (mycology), Nicholas Money dedicates his research to these most common eukaryotes of the planet and delights in explaining a host of talents and attributes of fungi.

Despite its prominence in nature, fungi remain misunderstood in the kingdom of organisms. However, Money, professor of botany, has run an active research program on fungal growth and reproduction for 22 years. As Miami’s Western Program director, Money has guided interdisciplinary research projects by students majoring in individualized studies.

With students, postdocs, and visiting researchers, Money pioneered the use of high-speed video to understand the explosive mechanisms used by fungi to launch their spores into the air. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Health. In 2015, he published experiments that linked the chemical properties of mushroom spores to raindrop formation.

Money’s passion for telling the scientific story of fungi led to five books and numerous published papers, as well as interviews with the New York Times, National Public Radio, and a host of other media.

His popular science books celebrate the diversity of the microbial world and include Mr. Bloomfield’s Orchard: The Mysterious World of Mushrooms, Molds and Mycologists (2002), The Amoeba in the Room (2014), and Mushrooms: A Natural and Cultural History (2017). His newest book, The Rise of Yeast: How the Sugar Fungus Shaped Civilization, has just been published by Oxford University Press.