Human Elements: Climbing for the origins of life

Dr. Robin Kodner looks through a microscope while studying snow algae in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. (Sarah Hoffman/Crosscut)

Dr. Robin Kodner regularly goes to extremes in the name of science. That’s because the microscopic algae she studies live only on glaciers and snowfields high in the mountains. At 2 billion years old, these single-celled colonies predate plants, animals and even fungi. By observing these archaic creatures, Robin can learn how all life evolved in the very beginning — and how it might survive into the future.

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