Cranfield University academic, Dr Angel Medina-Vaya, has been awarded the esteemed Berkeley Award from the British Mycological Society (BMS) for his outstanding contribution to the field.

Dr Medina-Vaya, Senior Lecturer in Food Mycology within the Cranfield Soil and Agrifood Institute and Director of the Agrifood MSc programme, received the award, which recognised his work on climate change and mycotoxins, during the AGM earlier this month. Speaking of this recognition, he said: “I am delighted to have received this award; it is one of my biggest achievements so far, as the Committee is composed of highly recognised researchers across multiple mycology disciplines from around the world.”

The British Mycological Society was founded in 1896 to promote the scientific study of fungi in all their diversity and has since grown to be one of the major mycological societies in the world. The prestigious Berkeley Award recognises academics within the early stages (usually the first five years) of their career for an outstanding and original scientific contribution to mycology.

Explaining his research, Dr Medina-Vaya said: “Mycotoxins are toxic chemical products from fungi that live in plants that we use as food. These chemicals are not removed or destroyed during the food production stages, such as boiling or cooking. My work focused on the growing concerns around the impact that forecasted climate change environmental conditions will have on mycotoxigenic fungi and the production of mycotoxins, and the risk this poses to people due to food and feed safety issues.

“I am only five years into my career as an academic, and so to be recognised with this award by one of the oldest learned societies in the world, is a true compliment and an honour.”

Professor Leon A. Terry, Director of Environment and Agrifood at Cranfield, said: “We are incredibly proud of Angel for being recognised for the research that he has undertaken and receiving the Berkeley Award. Already, approximately 25% of cereal produced worldwide is contaminated with mycotoxins, so work like Angel’s is crucial in improving food safety and ultimately keeping people safe.”

Dr Medina-Vaya was appointed Chair of the BMS Fungal Biology Research Committee at the start of 2019 and will be succeeded in 2021. He will be presented the award at the BMS Scientific Conference, which is due to be held at Cranfield University, in March 2021.