Dr. Margaret D. Lowman, research professor in the College of Sciences at North Carolina State University and senior scientist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, will teach and study coffee forests in Ethiopia this winter as part of the Fulbright Senior Specialist Scholar Program. Lowman will spend three weeks in Ethiopia in January conducting forest research with faculty and graduate students at Jimma University.
The Fulbright Specialist Program was established to unite US scholars and professionals with academic counterparts at institutions around the world. Lowman, who also serves as director of academic partnerships and global initiatives for the Museum, joined the Fulbright Specialist roster of experts five years ago and in 2011 traveled with the program to India, where she conducted several lectures and helped initiate canopy research projects.
Forest canopies are among the most species-rich and highly threatened areas on Earth, but they are also among the least explored. Like many coffee forests around the world, the forests in Ethiopia are threatened by coffee berry borer beetles, which drill into coffee berries and colonize them, as well as warming temperatures that have forced farmers to shift their plantations to higher elevations.
Lowman’s task while at Jimma will be to integrate research into a local forest conservation project and create plans for future conservation collaboration between Jimma, NC State, and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. Lowman will also conduct canopy-related lectures and serve as a mentor for women in science.
Lowman, an expert in canopy ecology, canopy plant-insect relationships and constructing canopy walkways, has spent her 30-year career working to discover new things about the Earth and educate the public about the natural world. She is credited with pioneering the science of canopy ecology, work that has earned her numerous honors including the Margaret Douglas Medal for Excellence in Conservation Education from the Garden Club of America and the Lowell Thomas Medal from the Explorers Club for Biodiversity Exploration.