Margaret D. Lowman, Ph.D. a.k.a. “Canopy Meg” is an American biologist, educator, ecologist, writer, editor, and public speaker. Her expertise involves canopy ecology, canopy plant-insect relationships, and constructing canopy walkways.
Nicknamed the “Real-Life Lorax” by National Geographic and “Einstein of the Treetops” by the Wall Street Journal, Meg Lowman pioneered the science of canopy ecology. On January 6, 2014 Dr. Lowman joined the California Academy of Sciences as its inaugural Chief of Science and Sustainability. In this role, she is responsible for the Academy’s programs of scientific research and exploration. For over 30 years, “Canopymeg” has solved mysteries of insect pests and ecosystem health in the highest layer of the world’s forests, designing the tools of the trade- hot-air balloons and walkways for treetop exploration- as she went. Her personal mantra is “no child left indoors.”
Meg Lowman climbs trees for a living. Over the past three decades, “CanopyMeg”(a nickname bestowed by middle school kids who email her), has earned an international reputation as one of the world’s first arbornauts, pioneering the field of forest canopy science. National Geographic dubbed her “the Real Life Lorax” and the Wall Street Journal labeled her as “the Einstein of the treetops.” She has devised innovative methods – including walkways, construction cranes and hot air balloons - to explore this “eighth continent,” home to about half of life on earth.
Equipped with degrees in biology, ecology, executive management, and a Ph.D. in botany, Lowman transformed her childhood passion of trees and building tree forts into mapping canopy biodiversity worldwide and spearheading the construction of North America’s first canopy walkway. Over the years, she has used her treetop exploration to influence government policy and encourage environmental stewardship. Among her many outreach initiatives are large-scale, distance-learning programs, newspaper columns, forest conservation in Africa and the Amazon, science books for public audiences, and nature camps for disadvantaged youth. She has authored over 125 scientific publications and 7 books, of which “Life in the Treetops” earned a cover review by the NY Times Sunday Book Review.
“CanopyMeg” is the Chief of Science and Sustainability for the California Academy of Sciences, (where she has her eye on climbing a few redwoods in the near future!) She will speak about her discoveries of biodiversity in forest canopies, sharing her first climb in Australian rain forests in 1979 with a home-made slingshot and harness, that provides a beginning for her subsequent chronology of canopy discoveries using different tools. She will take the audience on a global tour to some of the forest canopy hotspots where she conducts long-term research and education programs. Her most recent efforts, to conserve the last 5% of forests in northern Ethiopia, illustrate the essential services that trees provide for human health. She will also provide an update on the state of global forests, and share some exciting solutions to global forest management.