I study the chemicals of wood in order to identify wood that has been illegally chopped down.
Illegal logging is a crime. Trees are cut down and used for all sorts of purposes. Each tree species has its own “fingerprint.” My job is to build a database of tree fingerprints. Then we can figure out which trees have been illegally cut down.
First, we identify the species of wood in anything from floorboards to jewelry. Then I take apart the wooden objects. Next, I collect wood slivers from them. Then I take the slivers to a special machine. It “burns” the sample. This releases chemicals. Different chemicals make up the tree fingerprints. I compare them to the database. It can be used worldwide to catch criminals who are taking trees from protected places.
Darren J. H. Sleep
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
I study wildlife and their habitats to understand what they need to thrive.
My dad gave me advice when I was young. He said, “Find a job 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 teach people about the natural world. I teach them how we can work with it and protect it.
I spend a lot of time in an office. But my favorite times are spent outdoors. I study birds, bats, mice, and other critters. Here, I’m working with a caribou.
Ashley Coble tests water in a stream.
I study how forestry activities affect water. I help protect our freshwater lakes and rivers. I also study the living things that live in them.
You might find me wading in a stream and taking water samples. Part of my job is to learn how water travels through a forest— how it soaks into the soil or enters a stream.
I also measure the chemistry of a stream. I wonder: What’s in it? Through my research, I help protect the quantity and quality of water in streams, rivers, and lakes. I help safeguard wildlife and our drinking water.