Dr. Margaret Dalzell Lowman - 2007
"Canopy Meg" - “Author, Adventurer, Educator, Forest Canopy Biologist”
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce that Margaret Dalzell Lowman, Ph.D. (known affectionately as “Canopy Meg”), director of environmental initiatives and professor of biology and environmental studies at New College of Florida in Sarasota, has been named the 2007 recipient of theMendel Medal. Dr. Lowman delivered the annual Mendel Medal public lecture and was awarded the Mendel Medal on Saturday, April 28, on Villanova’s campus.
The public lecture, entitled, “It’s a Jungle Up There: Integrating Research and Education Through Canopy Ecology,” took place at 2:30 p.m. in the Connelly Center Cinema on Villanova’s campus. During the well-attended lecture, Dr. Lowman discussed her lifelong work in pioneering canopy access, integrating research with education and conservation, and developing a family conservation ethic, her “No Child Left Indoors” initiative. Throughout her talk, Dr. Lowman weaved stories of her work in ecology together with her memories of her children who accompanied her on many of her international field work expeditions. At the end of her book, Life in the Treetops, Dr. Lowman writes: “One of the most meaningful insights that I have acquired along my life’s journey is that it takes the same amount of energy to complain as it does to exclaim – but the results are incredibly different. Learning to exclaim instead of to complain has been my most valuable life lesson."
The Mendel Medal is an annual award given by the College that recognizes outstanding scientists who have done much by their painstaking work to advance the cause of science, and, by their lives and their standing before the world as scientists, have demonstrated that between true science and true religion there is no intrinsic conflict.
Dr. Lowman’s expertise involves canopy ecology, particularly plant-insect relationships, and spans more than 25 years in Australia, Peru, Africa, the Americas, and the South Pacific. Internationally recognized for her pioneering research in canopy ecology, she has authored more than 95 peer-reviewed publications and three books. Dr. Lowman also served first as Director of Research and Conservation, and then Chief Executive Officer, of Selby Botanical Gardens, an institution that specializes in tropical plants, especially epiphytes.
Under her leadership, the Gardens expanded membership by 45 percent, fund-raising by more than 100 percent, and doubled both research and education programs. After 11 years of service, Dr. Lowman left Selby Gardens to devote more time to her passion: science education.
“Dr. Lowman’s work in canopy ecology demonstrates the complexity and importance of plant-insect relationship in the tops of tropical trees and reflects the awe she feels at the wonder of creation,” said the Rev. Kail C. Ellis, O.S.A., Ph.D., dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciencesat Villanova. “Dr. Lowman is an outstanding teacher and researcher, and her work in environmental science and conservation outreach will continue to play an important role in education and for everyone concerned with the future of our planet.”
Prior to joining Selby Gardens, Lowman was a professor in biology and environmental studies at Williams College, Williamstown, Mass., where she pioneered temperate forest canopy research and built the first canopy walkway in North America. Working in Australia on forest ecology, she was instrumental in determining the causes of the eucalypt dieback syndrome that destroyed millions of trees in rural Australia, assisted with conservation programs for tree regeneration, and ran a successful ecotourism business in the outback. For more than 20 years, she studied studying mechanisms of tropical diversity in Australian rain forests with Joseph Connell (University of California, Santa Barbara).
Dr. Lowman has developed an expertise for the use of different canopy access techniques, including ropes, walkways, hot air balloons, construction cranes, and combinations of these methods. She frequently speaks about her jungle adventures and rain forest conservation efforts to educational groups, ranging from elementary classes to corporate executives and scientists at international conferences. She received the Margaret Douglas Medal for Achievement in Conservation Education from the Garden Club of America (1999) and The Eugene Odum Prize for Excellence in Ecology Education from the Ecological Society of America (2002). She serves on the Board of Directors for the Explorers Club and is part of the senior management team of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) for the National Science Foundation. Dr. Lowman’s latest book, Life in the Treetops, received a cover review in theNew York Times Sunday Book Review. In this autobiography, Dr. Lowman describes – with scientific accuracy and humor – her adventures studying rain forest canopies while juggling family and career in some of the most remote jungles of the world.
Dr. Lowman received a B.A. with honors in biology and environmental studies from Williams College (1976), a master of science in ecology from Aberdeen University (1978), and a Ph.D. in botany from the University of Sydney (1983).
For more information on Dr. Lowman and her research, please visit her Web site at www.canopymeg.com.