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Cool Jobs: Green Science

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White spruce grow across northern North America, from Alaska to Labrador. As Arctic temperatures rise, spruce are spreading even farther north.

This is one in a series on careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics made possible by support from the Northrop Grumman Foundation.

Even if trees cannot walk, they are still on the move.

In parts of the Arctic, entire forests are creeping northward. Luckily, ecologist Serge Payette is hot on their trail. Like the two other scientists we will meet here, Payette has spent decades trying to understand the often surprising ways plants influence their environment.

Together, these three experts are showing how plants don’t just colonize new surroundings, but also can warm and clean them. Some plants can even rid an area of any competing plants, using chemicals that continue to marvel scientists. As work by these scientists shows, plants do many things to interact with their environment — and ours.