flowers through a different lens

Science as a first love.

By Callie Leuck

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You want to change the world. You want to be a scientist. 

You spend your childhood summers in a historic garden, helping to cultivate heirloom beans and tomatoes, until studying plants seems the natural choice. You spend high school biology classes — and later, collegiate plant science classes — doodling intricate flowers in the margins of your notebooks. You wash dishes in a plant science lab — and they pay you for it, pretty darn well in fact, but you'd do it for free. They tell you not to say that, and to please fill these boxes with pipette tips. 

Your favorite place in the world one semester is the potting room. You bring fresh-cut flowers back to your dorm room from the research greenhouse, and your roommate posts pictures of them on Facebook and tags you as the prettiest ones. 

You're only a handful of classes away from a degree in science when you realize you see the future as a long grim life of tedium. Your breakup with science is harder than your breakup with your first boyfriend, although they happen at the same time and you blame all of your angst on the ex-boyfriend situation. 

You haven't felt this free and happy in years, and yet. And yet. Whenever you pass a flower, you think about what it would look like under a microscope.

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Callie Leuck is a writer and proofreader currently working for a Medicare contractor in Indianapolis, Indiana. She holds a master's degree in science-medical writing from Johns Hopkins University. She can be reached at

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