Courtesy of Monica Marcu

Monica Marcu's life outside the lab is just that: outside. As a nature photographer, she spends her free time, "all the weekends, all the holidays," exploring the parks and nature preserves in and around the Washington, DC area.

After years of taking her camera along on hikes, her husband suggested: Why not be a photographer? Inspired, Marcu set about reading books and taking classes; she studied with professionals and practiced on her own. In time, her technique and her confidence grew so much that she started entering competitions and submitting work for publication. The more Marcu worked, the more fulfilled she felt, realizing a personal need for art and beauty. "People always try to separate art and science," she says. "For me, [that's] very difficult to understand. It's all intermingled."

Marcu, a pharmacologist at the National Cancer Institute, doesn't view her two callings as contradictory. She...

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