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In the 1970s, Stamets worked in the woods of Washington's northern Cascade mountains in lumber and shingle mills. One August day[when?], a 4-foot-diameter tree succumbed to the stress of a skyline and broke apart; the debris nearly hit Stamets' crew as the large old-growth specimen knocked over other trees. The crew survived the incident by ducking behind a large Douglas fir tree. That day, Stamets decided to study botany at Evergreen State College. Stamets became fascinated by mycelium. He rejected the idea at the time that mycelium grew on habitats, holding that it grew through the environment. Its ability to absorb tobacco smoke, ink and water astonished him.
He later purchased a small waterfront farm on Kamilche Point in Skookum Inlet, Washington and pursued this idea. A few months after moving in, a court order required him to install septic systems within 2 years or vacate the land. One year after installing mycelium beds and before he had repaired his septic system, an analysis of his outflowing water showed a hundred-fold drop in coliform bacteria levels, despite the fact he had more than doubled his population of farm animals. He then found mushrooms that housed larvae. He put mushrooms in a salmon fish-tank and noticed that the fish learned to bump the mushrooms to dislodge the larvae and feed themselves. Stamets' mycofiltration experiments drew attention of researchers at Battelle Memorial Institute, where more-formal studies ensued with mushrooms such as oyster and wood conk.
Research and advocacy
Stamets is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms (Begell House). He is an advisor to the Program for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He is active in researching mushrooms' medicinal properties, and is involved in two NIH-funded clinical studies on cancer and HIV treatments using mushrooms as adjunct therapies. He earned 9 patents on the antiviral, pesticidal, and remediative properties of mushroom mycelia. His work has been called pioneering and visionary. A strong advocate of preserving biodiversity, Stamets supports research into the role of mushrooms for ecological restoration.
Stamets discovered four new species of mushrooms. He is an advocate of the permaculture system of growing, and considers fungiculture a valuable but underutilized aspect of permaculture. He is a leading researcher into the use of mushrooms in bioremediation, processes he terms mycoremediation and mycofiltration.
Stamets was the recipient of the "Bioneers Award" from The Collective Heritage Institute in 1998, as well as the "Founder of a New Northwest Award" from the Pacific Rim Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils in 1999. He was named one of Utne Reader's "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World" in their November–December 2008 issue. In February 2010, Paul received the President's Award from the Society for Ecological Restoration: Northwest Chapter, in recognition of his contributions to Ecological Restoration. His work was featured in the documentary film The 11th Hour. He also been featured in the eco-documentary films Dirt! The Movie and 2012: Time for Change.
On June 10, 2014, Paul was honored as an Invention Ambassador by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
US 8753656 on June 17, 2014: "Controlling zoonotic disease vectors from insects and arthropods using preconidial mycelium and extracts of preconidial mycelium from entomopathogenic fungi".
Stamets runs Host Defense, a family-owned company that sells dietary supplements. Stamets has two children, Azureus and LaDena Stamets, and is married to C. "Dusty" Wu Yao. Paul Stamets is an accomplished martial artist, holding a black belt in Taekwondo (1979), and in Hwa Rang Do (1994).
- Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World (2005, ISBN 1-58008-579-2)
- MycoMedicinals: An Informational Treatise on Mushrooms (1999, ISBN 0-9637971-9-0)
- Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World (1996, ISBN 0-89815-839-7)
- Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms (1996, ISBN 1-58008-175-4)
- Mushroom Cultivator, The (1983, ISBN 0-9610798-0-0)
- Psilocybe Mushrooms & Their Allies (1978), Homestead Book Company, ISBN 0-930180-03-8)
- "KEXP 90.3 FM – Mind Over Matters". kexp.org.
- Stamets, Paul (2005). Mycelium Running: how mushrooms can help save the world (3rd ed.). Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press. p. 311. ISBN 978-1-58008-579-3.
- "Smallpox Defense May Be Found in Mushrooms". NPR.org. August 3, 2006.
- "How mushrooms will save the world". salon.com.
- "Bioneers 06: Paul E. Stamets". LinkTV. 2006. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- 11thhouraction.com Ideas and Experts: Paul Stamets
- The Participants | Dirt! The Movie, February 23, 2013
- "2012 Time for Change". 2012timeforchange.com.
- Paul Stamets. "Paul Stamets: 6 ways mushrooms can save the world - Talk Video - TED.com". ted.com.
- Paul Stamets. "Is the world ready for a Medical Mushroom Mystery Tour? - Talk Video - TEDMED.com". tedmed.com.
- Press Release from NCNM mentioning Stamets' honorary degree
- Awards page, NAMA
- "Meet the Invention Ambassadors". aaas.org.
- "Patent US8765138 – Antiviral and antibacterial activity from medicinal mushrooms". google.com.
- "Author Query for 'Stamets'". International Plant Names Index.
- Stamets's Bio at Fungi Perfecti
- Official website of Host Defense, Olympia, Washington
- Paul Stamets at the Internet Movie Database
- Stamets' TED talk, Stamets' TED Talk from March 2008
- Stamets' 2011 talk at TEDMED
- Mushroom Power, Stamets' article for YES! Magazine from March 2003