Margaret Lowman, who also goes by the nickname “Canopy Meg,” is chief of science and sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences. Her research focuses on life and ecosystems at the top of the forest canopy in far-flung places, including the Amazon and Ethiopia.

In a Google Science Fair Hangout On Air conversation with me, she discusses how she became fascinated with what is happening at the tops of trees, what kinds of studies she has done on her treetop walkways and with hot-air observation balloons and other new technologies, her hardest challenge as a researcher (hint: it’s not what you’d think), and how kids can make a positive difference in ecosystem health and awareness.

Scientific American is a founding partner of the Google Science Fair and annually sponsors the $50,000 Scientific American Science in Action prize. The 2014 winner is Kenneth Shinozuka.