My first exposure to the world of diatoms was at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, where I helped identify the taxa found in Alberta’s numerous lakes. That led to my volunteering with another student in his work in the Northwest Territories, where he focused on the vertical migration of algae in relation to light.

All of this eventually steered me to Dr. Evelyn Gaiser’s lab at Florida International University in Miami, where I was hired in 1999 as a technician, tasked with everything from collecting periphyton samples to identifying the diatom taxa comprising them. Twenty-three years and myriads of projects later, and my appreciation for diatoms hasn’t waned: they continue to inform us of the uniqueness of the Everglades system and how it is affected by management, climate change and sea level rise.

But it isn’t only the usefulness of diatoms as indicators that holds my interest - it is the uniqueness of their structures that appeals to my artistic side as well, through drawings, sculpture and the written word. Suffice it to say, give me some days in the sun to collect them and a microscope and books in hand to name them, and my thoughts will always turn to this:

Water and glass. Glass and water. It’s the nature of what I do, isn’t it? My own well of answers. I gladly lose myself in this; it is, after all, the world that found me, the world I have called my own.