Cady Lancaster

Wood Scientist

Ashland, Oregon

I study the chemical properties of wood in order to identify wood that has been illegally chopped down.

Illegal logging is the third largest international crime. Trees are cut down and used for all sorts of purposes. I know that each tree species has its own “fingerprint” of chemicals. My job is to build a database of each one. We can then identify trees that have been illegally logged. This is important. In order to use the laws that protect them, we must know what kind of wood is being traded and cut down.

I work for law enforcement, assisting inspectors and agents. We identify the species of wood in anything from floorboards to expensive jewelry. I carefully take apart wooden objects to collect slivers from hidden locations. Then I take the slivers to a special machine to “burn” the sample. This releases the chemicals, which I then compare to the database.

This database can be used around the world to catch criminals who have been poaching, or stealing, trees from protected forests. Every case is a step closer to protecting our environment.

Darren J. H. Sleep

Wildlife Biologist 

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I study wildlife and their habitats to understand what they need to thrive.

My dad gave me some advice when I was young. He said, “Find a career you love so much you’d do it for free.” That’s pretty good advice. I’m glad I followed it. I’ve always loved animals and being outdoors. Working as a wildlife biologist allows me to make a difference in the world.

My job is to educate people about the natural world and how we interact with it. I also help forestry companies manage their land so they can continue to make products that are healthy for people and our planet. At the same time, they conserve the things we value. Wildlife. Water. Carbon (to reduce the effects of climate change).

I spend a lot of time in an office. But my favorite times are spent outdoors studying birds, bats, mice, and other critters. Here, I’m working with a caribou.

Ashley Coble tests water in a stream.

Ashley Coble


Corvallis, Oregon

I study how forestry activities affect water quantity and quality. I help protect our freshwater ecosystems, the living things that live in them, and our drinking water.

You might find me wading in a stream and sampling water. Or using mapping software. Or presenting research data to other scientists. Part of my job is to understand how water travels through a forest, soaks into the soil, or enters a stream. I also measure the chemistry of a stream to determine what’s in it.

My career has taken me to many places across the world. The research I do helps protect the water in streams, rivers, wetlands, and lakes. I also help safeguard wildlife and our drinking water.

Understanding how forest management affects our freshwater resources is vital. I think about designing studies to address this.