Nalini Nadkarni, professor of Biology, University of Utah, discusses how her experiences as a scientist precipitated her explorations into a diverse ways of engaging humans with the natural world.
Nadkarni’s 35 years of ecological research in tropical and temperate rainforest canopies led to discoveries about the importance of treetop-dwelling plants in ecosystem processes, as well as the fragility of the rainforest tapestry. To help raise awareness of the need to protect forests and to narrow the increasing distance between humans and nature, Nadkarni created novel ways to synergistically share knowledge with a wide range of public audiences, including urban youth, visual artists, rap singers, policy-makers, and faith-based groups. She has also initiated and sustained programs to bring science lectures, conservation projects, and nature imagery to incarcerated men, women and youth in state prisons county jails, and juvenile detention centers, including those in Oregon. This interweaving of plants, animals, and people has helped to create a stronger tapestry of conservation and engagement with nature.