Dr. Margaret Lowman has been referred to as Einstein of the treetops and a real-life Lorax-but the title she is best known by is Canopy Meg as she has pioneered the science of canopy ecology.
As the Director of Global Initiatives at the California Academy of Sciences she is tasked with creating a global strategy for the Academy’s biodiversity science and sustainability as well as promoting it to local and international audiences. Previously she had served as the Chief of Science and Sustainability at the academy where her responsibilities included creating sustainable initiatives throughout all its research programs and restructuring internal operations.
Before that, Lowman was a professor at North Carolina State University and the founding director of North Carolina’s innovative Nature Research Center at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. In this role she oversaw the creation, construction, staffing, and programming of this research wing developed in partnership with the North Carolina University System.
Part of being an expert on forest canopies is developing field methodologies for the exploration of these sometimes hard to reach areas including slingshot fired ropes, canopy cranes and walkways, and hot air balloons with sleds. Using this technology she has worked for over thirty years to map the canopy for biodiversity, develop a better understanding of the interwoven nature of the plants and animals in the canopy, and championed forest conservation around the world. Her work started in the forests of Australia and she was instrumental in determining the cause of the Eucalypt Dieback Syndrome there and worked on forest conservation and regeneration.
Canopy Meg is also a co-founder and executive director of the TREE Foundation which supports Tree Research, Exploration, and Education and has provided scholarships for students from developing countries to learn about forest conservation in the United States. This group built America’s first public treetop walk, the Myakka River canopy walkway in Florida, and has created a unique science-religion partnership in Ethiopia to help conserve valuable forest fragments in the area.
Lowman’s expertise has made her a leader in solving environmental challenges and a role model for women and minorities in science.
Written by Angela Goad