Winter leaves the trees bare and the lake level low, but the natural surroundings around her home still inspire Cat Tesla. “Just being near the lake is so therapeutic,” says Cat (short for Catherine), gazing across the water as she stands on her deck in Snellville. The scenic setting fuels Cat’s two vastly different career paths, providing stimulation for her painting and strength for her role as a genetic counselor.

Defying popular stereotypes about right-brained and left-brained people, Cat works as both an artist and a scientist. On any given day she might paint on wood or canvas on her beloved deck or post vital information on the genetics Web site she manages. Although many seem surprised by her two different careers, it’s all perfectly natural to her. “I have the dual identity,” the artistic scientist (or is that scientific artist?) says with a laugh. “Some days the whole idea just cracks me up.”