Recent publication

Dr. Lowman and collaborators recently published an article in the Nature journal Communications Earth & Environment. The work shows an increased risk of flash droughts and detriments to agriculture in a changing climate. 

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Prescribed Fire

On March 22, Lowman Lab student researchers Matthew Barnes and Nick Corak were on site for a prescribed fire conducted by the North Carolina Forest Service. Barnes and Corak were collecting temperature data inside the fire lines as well as concurrent air quality and weather conditions.  They also collected before and after readings of grass density (which was zero after the fire!). The collection of image to the left were taken by Barnes and Corak. 

Costa Rican Spring Break

Graduate student, David Carchipulla-Morales spent his Spring Break (and a bonus week) in the tropical montane cloud forests of the Monteverde Region of Costa Rica. Professor Lowman joined David as part the data collection campaign for Collaborative Research Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The project aims to investigate how a loss of the diverse and abundant epiphyte communities in the Tropical Montane Cloud Forests (TMCFs) will impact tree health, energy balance and hydrologic functions. Epiphytes are vascular and non-vascular plants that can be found in the canopies of TMCFs collecting wind-driven nutrients and creating microecosystems for the arboreal fauna. David also had to the opportunity to present in the Bosque Eterno de los Niños, the largest private reserve in Costa Rica, to talk to local guides and researchers about the relevance of epiphytes in TMCFS. 

Figure 1. David and Professor Lowman on a hike in Monte Verde learning about the epiphyte ecosystem. 

Figure 2. David, presenting his research on the development of a model describing the water and energy balance of the epiphyte system. 

Figure 3. David high above the ground among the epiphytes in the canopy. 



Undergraduate Matthew Barnes and graduate student Nick Corak presented their research tracking vegetation regrowth patterns after prescribed fire at the North Carolina Coastal Confernce. The conference, sponsored by NC Sea Grant was held November 7-8 at NC State University in Raleigh, NC. The two are collaborating on this research and recently added the longleaf pine ecosystem, native NC Coastal Plains, to their research sites. Matthew participated in the poster session showcasing his work using a machine learning algorithm to identify leaf area index (LAI) from Landsat 8 imagery. Nick presented results comparing remotely sensed and ground observations of LAI in the Lightning Talk session. 

Community engagement

Lowman Lab graduate students Paul Carchipulla-Morales and Nick Corak recently visited an AP Environmental Science class at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. The two were invited to the class to discuss the environmental dynamics problems that the Lowman Lab tackles. Carchipulla-Morales (left) speaks to the class about modeling the water cycles in Costa Rican cloud forests and the role of epiphytes (plants that grown on trees) in the water, energy, and carbon exchanges. 

Award AnnouncementS

Three undergraduate students in the Lowman Lab recently received the Wake Forest University URECA Center's Starr Travel Grant ($700 each). Matthew Barnes, Sarah Marmolejos, and Janelle Wargo will use the money to support the costs to attend the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting 2022 in Chicago, IL where they will each present a poster showcasing their research. Barnes' research is centered around applying a machine learning algorithm to track changes in leaf area index (LAI) after prescribed fire events. Wargo will showcase her work modeling stomatal conductance in montane cloud forest. This has implications for modulating the energy, carbon, and water fluxes in regions normally saturated with clouds. 

Marmolejos also received the coveted AGU Student Travel Award ($1,000) to present her work on developing a methodology to create a fine-scaled vapor pressure deficit (VPD) data set.  Sarah's work will support further studies which uses atmospheric demand for water (e.g. VPD) to assess drought and wildfire risk. Congratulations, Sarah!


Graduate student Nick Corak is showcasing his work on vegetation response to prescribed fire at the Fire in the Pines Festival, October 8 in Wilmington, NC. The festival unites people to bring positive awareness to the benefits of prescribed fire, especially in coastal North Carolina. This work is sponsored by the NC Sea Grant - NC Space Grant Graduate Research Fellowship.


Lab Presents at WFU's Undergraduate Research Day

Max Hazlin ('22)

Sam Matterazzo ('22)

Julia Gass ('22)

Julia Powers ('23)


"Simulating stomatal response to cloud immersion for montane cloud forests in the Southern Appalachians" published in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology