A lifelong interest and concern for trees led Nalini to an academic career to study and understand trees, and to innovate activities and programs that raise awareness of the importance of trees and nature to others.
Nalini’s research interests are on: community and ecosystem ecology of tropical and temperate forest canopy organisms and interactions; the effects of forest fragmentation on biodiversity and community function; and the development of database tools for canopy researchers. Her long-term field sites are in Monteverde, Costa Rica, and the Olympic rainforest, Washington State.
Nalini has pioneered bringing science education, conservation projects, and nature imagery to the incarcerated. In 2003, she co-created the Sustainability in Prison Program in Washington State, and in 2011, created the Initiative to bring Science Programs to the Incarcerated (INSPIRE). These programs bring multiple benefits for inmates, scientists, correctional institutions, and the community.
Nalini believes that part of the scientific enterprise is to communicate the results of research to other scientists and to people outside of academia. Her major focus in public engagement is to bring science and scientists to people who do not or cannot gain access to science in traditional science educational venues.
Meet The Team
Since then, she has worked in domestic and sexual violence prevention and response, accompanying many incarcerated and underserviced populations while learning about the cyclical patterns of incarceration and abuse. She now serves as the Program Coordinator for STEMCAP, helping youth in custody gain access to educators and helping to pave career pathways. She strives to elevate community understanding of the carceral system.