Stephanie Rensink is a PhD student at Saxion and Utrecht University. She studies the adhesion of fungus to wood.

Why are you researching fungi?

‘I am trying to further develop biological wood protection. Living organisms sometimes wash off the wood with rain. When does it wash off and when does a fungus actually adhere well? That’s what I’m trying to find out during my PhD research.’

Why did you choose this research?

‘I started during my bachelor’s studies. Then I did a little research project on why to protect something with an organism. Protecting something with a fungus feels contradictory, but the big advantage is that you don’t need biocides and toxins to protect the wood, and therefore you can use more natural materials in construction.’

What does your lab look like?

‘There is a lot of wood, there are coatings, fungi and culture equipment to grow the fungi on. I do flush tests on the wood. Eventually, I want to see what substances the fungi produces to attach itself. What does the adhesive layer consist of? I work from outside to inside and check where the mould coating attaches best. Then I can scrape it off and analyse it.’