A recent study in the journal Science found that drought affects the Amazon rainforest more than previously thought, killing trees, which then release carbon, the main contributor to global warming. Claudia Czimczik (pictured), a project scientist in UC Irvine’s Department of Earth System Science, played a small but integral part in the study by, well, digging in the dirt. Czimczik took a trip in 2001 to Peru, during which she collected soil. “For a lot of people, soil is just dirt, and it’s messy when you play with it, but it’s important,” Czimczik says. “It supports the whole forest system, which affects not just local people and weather patterns but the global atmosphere and climate.”