Wood Chemist

Wood chemists find new ways to use wood. Did you know that there are wood chemicals in our ice cream, toothpaste, and sometimes in soup? Wood chemists work at changing wood into useful compounds--like ones we can eat! Actually, wood chemistry is a very broad field.

Most wood chemists are involved in research to:

  • study diseases that affect wood;
  • develop treatments to help protect wood from insects and rot;
  • study chemicals that occur naturally in wood and can be used to fight diseases (for example, Taxol is a cancer-fighting drug found in the Pacific Yew tree);
  • improve paper, paints, glues, and coatings for wood products.

Wood chemists go to college for at least four years to study chemistry and how living things such as wood are formed. They usually work in laboratories with high-tech tools. Being a wood chemist is a demanding career with many rewards.