In June 1992, Dr. Meg Lowman became the Director of Research and Conservation at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, an institution that specializes in tropical plants, especially epiphytes. She administers a department of taxonomists and ecologists, is overseeing a scientific journal, Selbyana, a herbarium and an active program of plant conservation and education. Her expertise is in canopy ecology, particularly herbivory and other plant-insect relationships. She has devoted 15 years to field work in Australia and the South Pacific. She has authored over 50 peer-reviewed publications.
Prior to joining Selby Gardens, Dr. Lowman was an assistant professor in Biology and Environmental Studies at Williams College, Massachusetts where she pioneered several aspects of temperate forest canopy research. She built a walkway in an oak-maple forest where she and her students studied canopy insects, plants, and small mammals. From 1978-89, she lived in Australia and worked on canopy processes in both rain forests and dry sclerophyll forests. She was instrumental in determining the causes of the Eucalyptus dieback syndrome that destroyed millions of trees in rural Australia, and assisted in the organization of conservation programs for tree regeneration. She is also involved in long-term monitoring of rain forest regeneration in the Australian tropics with colleague Joseph Connell at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Dr. Lowman has developed different techniques in canopy research, including ropes, walkways, hot air balloons, construction cranes, and combinations of these methods. She frequently speaks about forest conservation to educational groups, ranging from elementary classes to international conferences. During 1994, her canopy research included Belize, Panama, Australia, Europe, subtropical Florida and Massachusetts. She continues to "map" the canopy for biodiversity (including foliage and cohorts of insects associated with them) and to quantify canopy processes such as herbivory and nutrient cycling. She received a nomination as a Pew Fellow in Conservation and Biodiversity in 1993, and is an adjunct professor at New College, University of Florida, and Williams College. She co-chaired the International Conferences on Forest Canopies in 1994 and in 1998, and was Chief Scientist for the 1994 Jason Project, an international science education program.Dr. Lowman received a B.A. with honors in biology and environmental studies from Williams College (1976), a Msc. in ecology from Aberdeen University (1978), and a Ph.D. in botany from the University of Sydney (1983). In 1998, she was inducted as a Fellow of the Explorer's Club.