Paul Stamets' groundbreaking experiments and visionary zeal have made Stamets one of the world’s most influential mycologists, yet he has no academic affiliation. Instead, he does his research under the auspices of his private company, Fungi Perfecti.
Based in Shelton, Wash., Fungi Perfecti sells gourmet and medicinal mushrooms, growing kits, extracts and other products online and in specialty shops. Each week, grow rooms, like the one pictured here, produce up to 4,400 pounds of mushrooms and mycelia, the cobweb-like membrane from which mushrooms sprout.
“I know of no other technology except computer science that can be as influential in the survival of human life on this planet than that of mushroom mycelium,” says Stamets, who has been awarded six patents for mushroom-based inventions. “Yet the field of mycology is underappreciated, underpopulated and underfunded.” By working as an independent scientist-entrepreneur, he can follow his mycological obsessions wherever they lead him.