The 2021 Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Early Career Scientists is awarded to Lucy Rowland for her exceptional scientific contributions to the biogeosciences, improving our understanding of water and carbon cycling in tropical rainforests and their interplay with climate and land-use policy.
Lucy M. Rowland is an associate professor of the geography department at the University of Exeter, where she teaches landscape and ecosystem dynamics and mentors a lively team of PhD students and research fellows.
Since obtaining a PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 2013, Rowland has focused her efforts collecting plant physiology datasets from rainforests across all three major tropical continents (Latin America, Asia, and Africa). These rare data are vital for the Earth system modelling community and help improve the model representation of rainforest function and predictions of how forests will respond to and feedback on climate change. This important work was recognized when Rowland received a prestigious independent research fellowship and lectureship at the University of Exeter to continue her research investigating the resilience of tropical rainforests to drought stress and established herself as a world-leading expert in the field of tropical plant ecophysiology.
This important research has resulted in Rowland’s leading a number of collaborative projects with the international research community. Her projects have also provided a platform for reaching out to industrial partners, non-governmental organizations, and governmental departments in Brazil and Malaysia. In these countries Rowland is now applying her knowledge of forest function to actions that minimize the impacts of climate change, implementing restoration plans within some of the world’s most carbon-dense tropical ecosystems.
These collaborations have led to important scientific findings and 35 peer-reviewed publications to date, including her first author Nature paper in 2015 describing the importance of plant hydraulic traits in controlling the responses of tropical ecosystems to drought stress. Rowland also shares her knowledge openly by providing scientific advice and outreach on tropical rainforest function for the general public as part of the Eden Project charity, highlighting her achievements as a passionate science communicator.
Since 2019 Lucy Rowland balances her productive scientific research career with the pleasures and challenges of parenting a newborn daughter, a further impressive accomplishment in such a full early career. Rowland is a brilliant and energetic European biogeoscientist exemplifying the talents and achievements that are deserving of recognition by the EGU with an Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Early Career Scientists.