I first discovered diatoms through an undergraduate research project on the effects of dam operations on diatom communities of the Colorado River. Then, my graduate work took me to the Everglades, where periphyton communities cover the landscape and provide habitat for fascinating diatoms, many of which are waiting to be described. My research focused on understanding how aquatic microorganisms come together to form complex communities and how the communities interact with their habitat in freshwater ecosystems. At the Cary Institute, I conducted mesocosm experiments on the effects of multiple contaminants (nutrients, drugs, road salt) on algal and bacterial biofilm communities in urban streams of Baltimore. Currently, I work at the USEPA Office of Research and Development providing scientific support related to biological assessments and nutrient criteria. I am working to re-establish scientific confidence in diatoms as powerful indicators by improving taxonomic consistency and serving as Chair of the Diatom Taxonomic Certification Committee. I also co-instruct the Ecology and Systematics of Diatoms course at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory.