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Dr. Jane E. Smith Dr. Jane E. Smith

My most awe-inspiring moment as a scientist came when walking deep into an old-growth forest just a few weeks after a severe wildfire had killed all of the trees. The blackened trees towered in stark contrast against a background of reddish soil, which had practically no vegetation. The giant dark pillars towered in eerie silence. What for many might have been seen as devastation was somehow strikingly beautiful and powerfully exciting! Long red areas marked the previous location of logs, completely removed by the fire. Was there life in the soil? When would the soil microorganisms, important to forest life above ground, return? We were mesmerized by the power of nature and inspired by this research opportunity.