LISLE, Ill. (Jan. 10, 2024)—The Morton Arboretum Soil Ecologist Meghan Midgley, Ph.D., has been named director of the tree-focused botanical garden’s renowned Center for Tree Science. The research hub includes over 30 Arboretum scientists who collaborate with colleagues around the world, contributing scientific knowledge and technical expertise to secure the future of trees.
Midgley stepped into the position on Dec. 23, 2023, having been an integral Center for Tree Science team member since its 2015 inception. She will continue leading the Arboretum’s Soil Ecology Laboratory, which she has spearheaded for the past eight years.
Midgley succeeds Chuck Cannon, Ph.D., who established and expanded the scope of the center. He passed the reins to focus on his many ecological evolution research projects and associated networks through his new role as the Arboretum’s Senior Scientist in Ecological Evolution.
During her time at the Arboretum, Midgley has built a thriving research team, secured substantial external funding from both federal and private funders for her innovative and multidisciplinary research projects, and dedicated substantial time to mentoring and outreach.
“Meghan is a strong and active ambassador for the Center for Tree Science and has contributed significantly to setting its strategy,” noted Murphy Westwood, Ph.D., the Arboretum’s Vice President of Science and Conservation. “She embodies the values of inclusivity, learning and collaboration. Meghan possesses the scientific expertise, leadership skills and strategic thinking abilities necessary to lead the center.”
Through the Arboretum’s Soil Ecology Laboratory, Midgley studies how environmental changes and human activities impact interactions among plants, microbes and soil. In 2022, Midgley won a Walder Foundation Biota Award, which recognizes promising scientists conducting research that supports real-world applications, for brush pile burn research.
“Meghan has established a robust soil research program and led collaborative research projects to expand our understanding of trees and how to sustain them,” Cannon said. “Her leadership will enable this esteemed team of scientists, research staff, students and volunteers to meet our scientific, training and outreach goals to help trees and people flourish.”