Nicknamed the “real-life Lorax” by National Geographic, “Einstein of the treetops” by the Wall Street Journal, and affectionately known as “the mother of canopy research,” biologist Meg Lowman—a pioneer in canopy ecology—has a lockdown on some of science’s best nicknames, and it couldn’t be more deserved.
Lowman has worked tirelessly for more than 30 years to map biodiversity in forest canopies—an environment so expansive (and so critical to global systems) that it’s often referred to as “the eighth continent.” When she picked up a slingshot and rope in the '70s (as a way of sending a climbing line skyward), she became one of the first people to study trees from above instead of below. In the years that followed, she helped design hot-air balloons and treetop walkways now used by scientists and students around the world to study the little-known ecosystems high above the forest floor.
In addition to her efforts to document canopy biodiversity, Lowman also works to champion forest conservation around the world through a series of creative (and highly effective) projects. And regardless of where she is in the world—in classrooms, in the field, on city streets—she tries to actively serve as a role model for women and minorities, inspiring and mentoring people who never imagined themselves as scientists or conservationists.