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 is about 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 research on the effects of multiple contaminants (nutrients, drugs, road salt) on algal and bacterial biofilm communities in urban streams. Currently, I am a postdoc in the USEPA Office of Research and Development providing scientific support related to biological assessments and nutrient criteria. I am also working to re-establish scientific confidence in diatoms as powerful indicators by improving taxonomic consistency and contributing to the development of a diatom taxonomic certification program.