Dr. Rex Lowe

Dr. Rex Lowe

Lowe named to botanist position in Hawaii for 2007-08

Dr. Rex Lowe, a BGSU biologist since 1970, has been named the G.P. Wilder Chair in Botany at the University of Hawaii for 2007-08.

“Professor Lowe was selected from a list of a dozen highly qualified applicants from around the world,” according to Dr. Alan Teramura, chair of the botany department at Hawaii. He added that Lowe’s selection was based upon input from both Hawaii faculty and graduate students who reviewed the BGSU biologist’s vita, statement of research interests and plans for what he would do as the Wilder Chair.

“In this capacity,” Teramura noted, “Professor Lowe will be teaching two courses during the academic year (Limnology and Ecology of Algae in Freshwater Ecosystems) in addition to continuing his research on algal biodiversity.”

Lowe came to Bowling Green after earning his Ph.D. from Iowa State University in phycology—the scientific study of algae. His research generally concerns aquatic community ecology of benthic algae, organisms that live at the bottom of aquatic habitats and, because they constitute the base of the food web in most shallow lakes and rivers, are important to the overall health of those ecosystems.

Currently, he is one of many scientists participating in the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory, a multiyear initiative to identify, name and describe every species of mammal, bird, insect, plant and other life forms in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Lowe has a three-year, $399,956 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate algal biodiversity in the park. He and two BGSU graduate students are working with three other scientists who make up the “Algal Twig,” a taxonomic working group. The project is expected to take 10-15 years to complete.

“We have found over 40 species new to science thus far in the Smokies; I hope to focus algal research on similar habitats (primarily drippy cliff faces and wetwalls) on each of the Hawaiian Islands,” Lowe said. “Wetwall habitats are abundant and unexplored on these volcanically active, mountainous islands. I am very much looking forward to see what new species may have evolved.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Procter and Gamble Co. have been among other sources of major research funding for Lowe. His studies have also included impacts of zebra mussels on Great Lakes food webs and of chemicals on stream ecosystem health.

Lowe, who received a bachelor’s degree in botany from Iowa State in 1966, has been a full professor at BGSU since 1981 and won the University’s Olscamp Research Award in 1998.

July 3, 2006