Watch Forest and Natural Resources Researcher Ellen Crocker at Work

Ellen Crocker is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. She works on a wide range of research, education, and outreach related to threats to forests and sustainable management approaches.


I love talking with people about their trees and how to keep their forests healthy.

I love my job—I learn about how to keep forests healthy and share this information with others! Every day brings something new, from planting trees, to monitoring invasive species, to talking with people about what they can do to help their forests. 

My favorite part is working with people to identify problems and develop solutions. Anyone can do science, and there are lots of projects that need your help. For example, check out the TreeSnap citizen science app. My colleagues and I developed it to better connect you to research projects that look for healthy trees that can defend themselves against invasive threats (

I’ve always loved the outdoors, and as a kid I wanted to be hiking, kayaking, or catching insects. In college I studied biology. Then I got into the world of forest health, studying an invasive disease sudden oak death that is killing trees on the West Coast. 

Seeing the damage caused by this pathogen, and how it impacted the people who lived there, made me want to focus on the area more, because I knew I could have a big impact. Trees benefit us in so many ways! From giving us clean air and water to providing habitat for animals, we need healthy forests. Unfortunately, there are lots of threats to the health of forests, and they need our help.

There are lots of problems facing our planet and it can be easy to feel discouraged. The problem of invasive species, for example, can feel overwhelming. But don’t give up! There are lots of ways you can help, from small changes in your daily life to pursuing a career in natural resources. You can have a big impact, and we need you and your creative solutions!

Image 2

I have always loved learning about the natural world, from amphibians (like the frog in this photo) to mushrooms.

Local high school students learned about tree and plant indentification from UK Post-Doctoral Scholar Ellen Crocker at Robinson Forest on Youth Natural Resources Field Day

Sometimes I teach youth about tree diseases, insect pests, and how to keep trees (and forests) healthy.

Whitley County High School students learned about best land management practices and planted trees at farm that was a reclaimed strip mine.

Reforesting this old mining site will have a big positive impact! It was great to work with high school students to plant hundreds of trees.

Whitley County High School students learned about best land management practices and planted trees at farm that was a reclaimed strip mine.

Invasive plants are a big problem. Behind me there is an are covered with kudzu, which grows over trees and can take over forested areas.

Image 7-min

The TreeSnap app lets you get involved in scientific research and join the hunt for special trees that can defend themselves against invasive threats.

Copyright @smorescience. All rights reserved. Do not copy, cite, publish, or distribute this content without permission.

Join 20,000+ parents and educators
To get the FREE science digest in your inbox!