Microbial ecology is the study of microbes in the environment and their interactions with each other. Microbes are the tiniest creatures on Earth, yet despite their small size, they have a huge impact on us and on our environment. Microbial ecology can help answer some of our most practical questions such as "How can we improve our lives?" as well as basic questions such as "Why are we here?" Microbial ecology can show us our place in the cosmos -- how life originated and how it evolved, and how we are related to the great diversity of all other organisms.