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Nature’s Medicine Chest

Taifo Mahmud opens the incubator and, picking up the stacked petri dishes one by one, raises them to the light. Each round, lidded container displays a colorful pattern pocked or sprayed across the agar. The researcher points with pride to the branching abstractions of yellows and rusts, oranges and greens, the visible etchings of billions of microscopic bacteria multiplying in his Oregon State University lab.