About Nalini


Nalini M. Nadkarni
Dr. Nalini Nadkarni is known as “The Queen of the Forest Canopy.” She has been both a pioneer in forest canopy studies and in fostering the communication of canopy research among scientists and to the general public around the world. She is on the faculty at The Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Washington and the adjunct faculty at the University of Washington. Her research concerns the ecology of tropical and temperate forest canopies, particularly the roles that canopy-dwelling plants play in forests. She carries out field research in Monteverde, Costa Rica and in Washington State, supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society. In collaboration with computer scientists and informatics experts, she is creating software and data management tools for canopy researchers. Dr. Nadkarni has published over 80 scientific articles and two scholarly books. Her recent awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship for excellence in scholarship and creativity, the J. Stirling Morton Award of The National Arbor Day Foundation, an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship, and the Presidency of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.
In 1994, she co-founded the International Canopy Network, a non-profit organization to foster communication among researchers, educators, and conservationists concerned with forest canopies. Her work has been featured in popular magazines such as Natural History, Glamour, Discover, and Ranger Rick. She has also appeared in numerous television documentaries, including Bill Nye the Science Guy, Good Morning, America, and the Emmy-Award winning National Geographic Heroes of the High Frontier. Dr. Nadkarni’s recent efforts are to integrate aspects of artistic expression with scientific documentation of the natural world, and she has brought artists, musicians, and Inuits to the canopy. Her most recent project, funded by the Washington State Department of Corrections, is to bring scientists to prisons to collaborate with prisoners to carry out projects in environmental science and sustainability. She has expanded her outreach work by establishing the NSF-funded “Research Ambassador Program,” in which she trains other scientists to do outreach to non-traditional public audiences in non-traditional venues, such as legislative halls, churches, and rap music clubs.
Nalini lives in Olympia with her husband, an entomologist, and two teenage children.

Nalini M. Nadkarni, Member of the Faculty, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington 98505 and President, The International Canopy Network; (360) 867-6621; nadkarnN@evergreen.edu; www.evergreen.edu/ican; www.researchambassador.com; www.nalininadkarni.com

TED Conferences

TED2010, TED2009

An idea worth spreading

The Research Ambassador Program brings together scientsits and people from non-traditional public audiences. Scientists get guidance to frame their research in a way that relates directly to the values of these other groups - church congregations, urban youth, legislators, or senior citizens. The Researchers give talks, write articles, or make websites that lie in the location or in the culture of these other groups. Feedback in both directions is direct and exciting, and brings nature and humans closer together, as well as science and society.


I'm passionate about

Trees and forests; Human connections to nature; Compassionate acts; Helping incarcerated men and women use their minds; Good movies; Well-written short stories; Running every day; Homemade scones;.

Talk to me about

I would like to know what you are doing to connect people to nature, or what I could do to connect nature and science to the people and institutions you are working in. I

People don't know I'm good at

Taxi-driving; trail-running; making mobiles; snow-boarding; darning socks; ironing; making sounds by bonking my head.

My TED story

I have watched TED on the web for several years, but never thought I would be able to talk as Speaker. I have been involved with National Geographic Society as a researcher and conservationist for many years. I was pitching an idea to link modern dance with conservation to their film department, and the Director said "You should talk at TED about these ideas". So I got invited. Hooray!