Dr. Nalini Nadkarni is known as “the Queen of the Forest Canopy”, and has been both a pioneer in forest canopy studies and in communication of forest canopy research to scientists and the public.

Her forest ecology research focuses on the biota of forest canopies in rainforests of Costa Rica and in Washington State, supported by grants from the National Science Foundation. She has received three research grants and a Conservation Trust grant from the National Geographic Society. Nadkarni has published over 120 scientific articles and three scholarly books. Her recent awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2011 AAAS Award for Public Engagement, 2010 NSF Public Service Award, and 2012 Archie Carr Award for Conservation, and the 2015 William Julius Wilson Award for Achievement in Social Justice.

Dr. Nadkarni’s work exemplifies interdisciplinary teaching and learning. She has partnered with modern dancers, religious leaders, policy-makers, and directors of prisons to raise awareness for nature, especially trees. Her recent book, “Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connection to Trees” (University of California Press), integrates scientific knowledge, poetry, anthropology, and spirituality to help readers understand the deep connections between human and arboreal worlds. Her recent interdisciplinary work examines the dynamics of disturbance and recovery from the diverse disciplines of forest ecology, neuroscience, macroeconomics, refugee studies, modern dance, urban planning, traffic engineering and her own close encounter with death following her fall from a treetop in 2015.

Dr. Nadkarni is deeply committed to public engagement with science for all parts of society. In 1994, she founded the International Canopy Network, an NGO to foster communication among researchers, educators, and conservationists. Her work has been featured in magazines such as Natural History, Glamour, and Playboy, and she has appeared in television documentaries, including Bill Nye the Science Guy, Good Morning, America, and National Geographic. She brings science to diverse public audiences, including church congregations, urban youth, older citizens, and artists. In 2005, she co-founded the Sustainability in Prisons Program, which brings science lectures and hands-on conservation projects to incarcerated men and women in Washington State and around the country. In 2009, she created the STEM Ambassador Program, which recruits and trains other scientists to carry out engagement with science and conservation to underserved public audiences around the country.