KERA’s (Dallas)  Krys Boyd recently interviewed tropical field biologist Meg Lowman ’76 on Boyd’s always fascinating “Think” program.

 

http://podcastdownload.npr.org/anon.npr-podcasts/podcast/77/510036/91173599/KERA_91173599.mp3

 

The interview ranges over a variety of topics, from Lowman’s creation of the first tree canopy walks (she was the force behind the one in Hopkins Memorial Forest), being an international field biologist, teaching (she is a professor at New College of Florida, where she teaches undergraduates), life as the single mother of two boys while working in the field, and women in science. More than anything, I was struck by how much her identity as a parent shapes her worldview and values. She and her sons (who are now in their early twenties, and destined for scientific careers of their own) have collaborated in writing about life growing up in a field scientist’s family.

 

Those of you who are at Williams for reunions can try out a canopy walk for yourselves tomorrow (assuming the rain stops):

Sat., 1:30 – 5 p.m.  Hopkins Forest: Visit the Treetops on the Canopy Walkway

The walkway is a pair of tree platforms set 70 ft. above the ground and originally used for research. Platforms are linked by a cable bridge and accessed via a wooden ladder. Participants are harnessed to safety cables, and aided by guides. Space limited; long waits possible; first come, first served; no children under 12.

(It’s safe, but a challenge if you have height anxieties. Even if you don’t ascend, it’s worth walking over to HMF just to look at the structure. There will be an open house in the forest at the same time, so you could stop in at HMF headquarters and see the museum of farm implements, buy some homemade maple syrup, and view some of the other exhibits. And if you are outdoorsy, don’t miss the bird walk and the hike, both of which are also on the main reunion schedule.)

Listening to the interview or seeing the canopy walk might interest you in reading Meg’s books for the layperson:

Life in the Treetops: Adventures of a Woman in Field Biology by Margaret D. Lowman (2000)

and

It’s a Jungle Up There: More Tales from the Treetops by Margaret D. Lowman, James Burgess, Edward Burgess, and Ghillean T. Prance (2006) (written with her sons)

 

Lowman has a website, canopymeg.com. Officialy, her title is Margaret D. Lowman, Ph.D., Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies and Director of Environmental Initiatives, New College of Florida, but, if one just adds “Mom,” the subtitle of her website encapsulates it rather nicely: “Author, Adventurer, Tropical Rain Forest Canopy Biologist.”  She is very much a proud product of  the  Williams Center for Environmental Studies, and the College has celebrated her accomplishments by honoring her with a Bicentennial Medal.

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