Linda Blackall is a microbiologist who has pioneered and championed procedures that reveal microbes and their functions in natural and engineered systems. She discovered microbial contributions to practical aspects of water, wastewater and solid-waste treatment, leading to improvements in treatment and energy savings. Blackall’s work with host associated microbes has explained animal conditions, including equine and ruminant gut upsets, and she has investigated microbes involved in coral larval settlement and bleaching. She has empowered diverse practitioners in the application of microbial ecology methods to solve real-world problems. Blackall also has an excellent outreach record, having founded collaborations with arts-science experts to disseminate microbial knowledge via children’s books.