In this heyday of molecular biology, many scientists do a lot of DNA work but never get to actually manipulate the organism they study (unless if you count normal human interaction for all of us studying human genes in test tubes and gels). As a freshman in college I studied development and evolution of histone genes in Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, the spiny purple sea urchin. It’s not a standard model organism, but it was easy to harvest eggs and sperm, mix them in a tank, and observe the beauty of embryo development in real time. I was already a biology geek, but this formative experience nailed down my plan to become a research scientist. I recently was invited to attend the first Principal Investigator meeting of the NSF EDGE (Enabling Discovery Through Genomic Tools) Program and I met scientists from 21 different labs who clearly also share this wonder of the organism.