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IN THEIR OWN WORDS Cheryl Kuske explains how to better understand the environment by examining its tiniest inhabitants. Sometimes I get asked what it’s like to be a scientist and have a career in research. I’ve found the best way to answer this is to share my favorite M.C. Escher drawing, one that I keep framed on the window ledge in my office. The drawing depicts the surface of a person’s desk upon which a sketchbook is laid open, surrounded by various accoutrements such as a bottle, a plant, and a book. On the page of the sketchbook, and—in true Escher fashion—there is a melee of abstract shapes from which the form of a reptile emerges on one side, climbing up off the page, walking across the various desk accessories, stopping once to blow steam from its nostrils (Yay! Success!), and then climbing back down into the chaos of shapes on the page. Dr. Kuske in one of her microbiology labs. The image on the microscope screen is a photosynthetic cyanobacteria, Microcoleus vaginatus, which is a major constituent of biological soil crusts in the arid Southwest. CREDIT: Michael Pierce/LANL 1663 March 2018 7