Nicole Pietrasiak is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Soil Microbiology in the Plant and Environmental Sciences Department at New Mexico State University (NMSU), USA. Dr. Pietrasiak received her Diploma (a combined B.S. and M.S. program) at the University of Leipzig, Germany, with a focus on Physical Geography, a M.S. degree in Biology at John Carroll University in Cleveland, OH, and her Ph.D. in Soil and Water Sciences at University of California, Riverside. She conducts research in desert soil ecology, microbial biogeography, algal taxonomy, and phylogenetics. Her research objectives are to: 1) Understand what shapes the diversity, abundance, and distribution of desert microbes; 2) Link these patterns to ecosystem functions; and 3) Characterize and describe unique microscopic dryland algae that fit no established taxa. To date she has described 9 genera and 21 species new to science using a modern approach to algal taxonomy. She is an expert in biological soil crusts and the cyanobacterial flora of terrestrial habitats including soils, rock surfaces, and gypsum deposits. In New Mexico she has active projects at the Jornada Basin, White Sands National Park, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Monument, and surrounding public lands.