Conserving our planet's botanical resources and ecosystems

Sky Lan from Taiwan receives first Women-in-Science Scholarship

Sky Lan (Yung-Hsiang Lan) from Taiwan will study forest canopy ecology at Oregon State University. Here is her story:

I love trees, especially the giant old-growth trees of Taiwan, many of which are more than 2,000 years old. Though they are easy to access, little is known about them. I am especially committed to expanding my understanding of canopies, e.g. crown structure, micro-niche, physiology, phenology, epiphytes, herbivory, and the wild life that dwell within. To my perception, the forest canopy is a world of wonder. I have always longed to understand how, during the period of tree growth, the canopy protects itself, and interacts with the environment. In order to broaden my knowledge in this field, beginning in fall 2014 I am enrolled at Oregon State University Forestry College as a PhD candidate, with a focus on Forest Ecosystems and Society.

I wish to understand how the ecosystem emerged from vertical canopy structure, and am interested in the overall interaction between different species. To this end I plan to begin my study in an LTER (long-term ecological research site), an example of which would be H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, as a way to better understand canopy structure and the herbivore-tree relationship. To realize this goal I intend to do research not only in North America, but in Taiwan (East Asia) as well. The results of this project will reveal patterns of similarity or difference on either side of the Pacific Ocean. I find it exhilarating to scale towering trees and renew my acquaintance with old-growth forests. In the past, we understood little of these old-growth forests, due to the fact that most treatment or observation had been studied through seedlings. Based on experience gained in the course of working towards my Masters, I hypothesize that there are different strategies for survival, not only among old-growth trees, but even trees planted at the same time for variety of purposes. I am driven by the desire to know more.

Aside from my thesis research, I hope I can obtain a firm grasp of other canopy-related aspects. My interests even extend to such varied disciplines as geology, oceanology, and anthropology. Considering the limitations of time and energy allotted me in this one life, I hope that someday I may serve as the link bringing together specialists from different fields, with the ultimate goal of piecing together a narrative for canopy science applicable the world over. I also hope I can serve as the bridge between Taiwan and the rest of the world, thereby inspiring increasing numbers of scientists to focus on Taiwan’s beautiful old-growth forests.

My dream for what I someday hope to accomplish
Because little research has been done on the beauty and diversity of Taiwan’s forest canopy, it is my hope that someday I may serve as a conduit between Taiwan and the rest of the world. Such a conduit would play a vital role in collaborative study but, given the complexity and diversity of canopy science, would also link together related interdisciplinary subjects. In that manner it would be possible to construct a profound and wide-ranging narrative that would allow the public to understand what amazing things happen in the canopy. My dream is that one day my work will play a significant role in improving the earth’s forest protection. Thank you to TREE Foundation to helping me achieve my dreams, and also create sustainable forests.

working on spruce

working on spruce

Taiwania and "little" sky

Taiwania and “little” sky