Scientists also use so called model organisms, like the algae we study, because they have advantages when it comes to laboratory experimentation. They may grow quickly or be safer to work with. They may represent an extreme or efficient case of some biological problem we’re studying. And ultimately, they may shed light on fundamental biological, chemical, or physical properties that allow us to make enormous leaps in understanding for humans. There are many well established model organisms like yeast, worms, fish, flies, and mice. But life is extraordinarily diverse. There are also organisms that have evolved a new way to do something desirable. Organisms that can rapidly regenerate their bodies. Organisms that can quickly rearrange their genetic material to adapt to environmental stresses. With the reduced cost of genome sequencing and the development of new tools, it is now possible to leverage life’s diversity to learn much more than ever before. As has happened so many times before, the next major leap in technology or biological understanding may come from some creature found in the soil, or pond water, or in an extreme climate, or from an organism that has yet to be discovered. One of the most powerful and versatile techniques used in laboratories around the world to help diagnose disease, clone genes, generate therapies, and in forensics, became possible through the discovery of a bacterium that can survive very high temperatures in a geyser in Yellowstone National Park in the 1960s. It would have been impossible to fathom all the implications of this discovery at the time. The ingenuity of many scientists over decades has allowed us to engineer molecular machines from these heat-loving bacteria to do things we literally could never have imagined. The same was true for studies of the patterns in butterfly wings, which informed how blood types are inherited in humans and lead to a therapy that saved the lives of millions of babies with incompatible blood types from their mothers. The findings that will have the biggest impact on our lives will be the ones that are the most fundamental. The ones many different fields can build upon.