The decision to mesh motherhood with a nascent career as an environmental biologist wasn’t one that Margaret Dalzwell Lowman had the luxury of choosing. Rather, it was a lifestyle born out of necessity. After completing her doctorate at the University of Sydney in 1983, Lowman (pictured left) launched her career as a visiting professor in the Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts–the same college she attended as an undergraduate. She was recently divorced and had two active young sons, ages 3 and 5.
But she was determined to make it work. “When I became a single mom, I looked at the world a little differently,” she says. “Suddenly I had to be successful because my children were depending on me.” Sixteen years later, Lowman has scaled new heights, literally and figuratively: She found a niche for herself studying the world’s forest canopies, which are home to about 40 percent of all biological species. She has pioneered techniques for canopy access, including ropes, walkways, hot-air balloons, and construction cranes. She also found time to write two critically acclaimed books, Life in the Treetops and It’s a Jungle Up There: More Tales from the Treetops, which document the ecology of the canopy, particularly its plant-insect relationships. The most recent book was co-authored with her two sons, James and Eddie.