You could say that Scott Mangan began his ecology field work as a child, exploring the forest in his own back yard in rural Wisconsin. As a child, he was always fascinated by the multitude of species interactions that occurred in the small woodlot near his home. His early interests led him to complete undergraduate and master’s degrees in Biology at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. It was there where community ecologist, Dr. Gregory Adler, first introduced him to the extreme diversity of tropical forests of Central America and Southeast Asia. He completed his PhD at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana with Dr. James Bever. For both his Masters and doctoral research, he focused on determining the ecological importance of soil-borne fungi to tropical forest regeneration. Most tropical trees are dependent on the symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. These belowground fungi colonize tree roots and effectively increase the surface area of the tree’s root system. The fungus provides the tree with the ability access scarce nutrients, whereas the tree provides the fungus with sugars.