Weaving urban webs: Lizzy Lowe at Real Scientists

It is our pleasure to introduce to you Dr Lizzy Lowe (@LizyLowe), our new curator. Lizzy is an Adjunct Research Fellow The University of Western Australia. Here’s her story.



From a young age I’ve been fascinated by insects and spiders. I also love observing nature and then being able to investigate the way that things work. When I realized that I could go to uni and study invertebrate biology, ecology and behaviour, it was a no brainer.


I actually started out studying molecular biology as well as Zoology, because I loved learning about proteins, DNA replication, cellular function etc. I was amazed by the fact that all these processes in our bodies actually work the majority of the time! But when it came to research I struggled with being in a lab all day and with the focus on micro details that you need for molecular biology, I wanted to think about the big picture! So, for my PhD I moved into Ecology (a huge learning curve) and thrived in a discipline where I could spend so much time out doors investigating natural phenomena.


I’m an Urban Ecologist, which means that I’m interested in how plants and animals cope with highly modified environments like cities. I am fascinated by the ability of some species to thrive cities (we call these urban exploiters) and I’m interested in investigating the traits that allow them to do this. I’m also really passionate about working with local communities to create green spaces in cities that are functional for people but also support diverse plant and animal communities. My specialty, is urban spiders. There are many species of spiders that cope quite well in cities, but other species that will only live in natural areas, I’d like to find out why. I also study how spiders that DO live in cities change their behaviour and biology in order to survive in urban areas.


The majority of people in the western world live in cities, or at least highly modified environments. I think it is really important for people to understand how nature fits into built up environments and how we can create urban spaces that also encourage biodiversity. When it comes to spiders, I love telling people about all the amazing different types there are, and their weird and wonderful habits.


I currently have full time care of my 1 year old son (I guess that counts as an obligation!). So I try to fit in all my academic work while he sleeps and my field work when he visits his grandparents.


Before my son was born my husband and I scuba dived around the world. Now we still love to travel but spend less time underwater. Now we hike a lot as a family (we just spent thee weeks hiking around the south island of NZ). I’m also a huge science fiction fan, my favorite novels are the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons and I’m currently watching star trek the next generation series religiously.


Ideal Day Off: Getting up early for a bush or coastal walk with my family, a good brunch out somewhere not too fancy but with a good view, and a chilled out afternoon reading books or playing boardgames with a glass of wine.


Please welcome Lizzy to Real Scientists !



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