RALEIGH — Dr. Margaret Lowman, Director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Nature Research Center, has been awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialist award to travel to India in January 2011. The Indian government requested Lowman’s expertise to help design important forest conservation programs in India and to lead science education outreach events during her visit.
Lowman pioneered the science of canopy ecology, earning her the nickname “Canopy Meg.” For 30 years, Lowman has designed hot-air balloons and walkways for treetop exploration to solve mysteries in the world’s forests, which are among the most species-rich yet most highly threatened terrestrial habitats. “Through the Fulbright pathway,” Lowman says, “I hope to communicate effectively to global audiences about forest stewardship and conservation, using canopy research as a ‘hook’ to engage scientists, citizens, policy makers and communities as stakeholders of healthy forests.”
The Indian government invited Lowman to help foster and promote India’s emerging global leadership in canopy science — a result of hosting the 5th International Canopy Conference in 2009. While in India, Lowman will work with the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) and its academic affiliate, Manipala University, to give a series of technical and public lectures promoting forest ecology and conservation, to create a long-term plan and associated assessments for India’s emerging canopy conservation programs, and to design a training course for Indian University students on canopy research methods.
Lowman qualified for the Specialists Roster of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board in 2008. As a Specialist, Lowman is eligible for two opportunities within a five-year span to work with overseas academic institutions in countries where needs for conservation, forest ecology or science education are requested. Her invitation to India is the first.
The Nature Research Center (NRC) is the new 80,000-square-foot wing of the Museum dedicated to bringing scientific research into the public eye. Currently under construction in the block west of the Museum, the NRC is scheduled to open in early 2012. Lowman is also Research Professor of Natural Sciences in the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at NC State University, where she focuses on initiatives involving communicating science to the public.