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.

Science in Prisons

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.

Public Engagement

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.

Science, Humanities, and the Arts

Nalini collaborates with a wide range of humanists, creative writers, poets, dancers, musicians, and visual artists to better understand and communicate the relationships between nature and humans.” image can be of the dance company performing “biome.

Project News

May 18, 2021


Nalini recently appeared in a two part series called RESILIENCE in Resilience Quarterly, co-produced by the Urban Systems Lab at the New School. In part one, Moss in Prisons, Nalini describes her…

Meet The Team

nalini nadkarni

Nalini Nadkarni

Ph.D., Director, STEM Ambassador Program (STEMAP), Initiative to Bring Science to the Incarcerated (INSPIRE), STEM Community Alliance Program (STEMCAP)

STEMAP Manager

Caitlin Weber

M.S., Program Manager, STEM Ambassador Program (STEMAP)

Caitlin earned her M.S. in Natural Resources with an emphasis on Conservation Ecology from the University of Michigan. Her graduate work focused on documenting the ecological impacts of invasive species management on islands in the Aegean (Greece). Caitlin currently serves as the Program Manager for the STEM Ambassador Program where she manages scientist trainings and public engagement programs. Caitlin works closely with the STEMAP team to guide scientists in identifying and implementing innovative public engagement activities in a range of venues (e.g., correctional facilities, senior centers, cafes, community council meetings). She is also responsible for representing the Program at conferences and assisting with the preparation of publications and project reports. Caitlin joins STEMAP after working as an Environmental Policy Analyst at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, where she worked with legal and technical experts to develop and communicate policy positions on state and local environmental issues.

Laura George

M.S, Program Manager, Programs for the Incarcerated

Laura earned her M.S in the Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah. As a master’s student, Laura focused on reformation of youth environmental education to make it more inclusive to underserved populations as well as to those who don’t typically think of themselves as interested in or capable of participating in science through the inclusion of place-based interdisciplinary content. Laura currently works as the Program Manager for Initiative to Bring Science Programs to the Incarcerated (INSPIRE) and STEM Community Alliance Program (STEMCAP) for Youth-in-Care. These two programs bring local scientists to adult and juvenile incarcerated populations to provide informal science education. While INSPIRE, the adult program, focuses mainly on science lectures, STEMCAP also includes art-science workshops, career workshops, and agency science presentations. Both programs also include conservation projects that allow incarcerated people to contribute to a specific conservation effort. Laura was drawn to these programs by their effort to engage underserved populations with science while expanding participants’ perception of science through interdisciplinary work and in-person contact with local scientist.
STEMAP INSPIRE coordinator

Meg Young

Program Coordinator, Initiative to Bring Science Programs to the Incarcerated (INSPIRE) / STEM Ambassador Program (STEMAP)

Meg earned her BS in Anthropology from the University of Utah. She is a Program Coordinator for INSPIRE and STEMAP. She works with both programs to help provide public engagement of science training to scientists, and coordinate workshops at youth and adult corrections facilities. Meg joined the Nadkarni Lab after working in the non-profit field in Salt Lake as a community engagement coordinator.

Amanda Carriero

Project Coordinator, Programs for the Incarcerated

Amanda received her BS in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Ohio University. She joined the Nadkarni lab after gaining experience as a researcher in the Psychology department at the University of Utah. She currently works as the Program Coordinator for the STEM Community Alliance Program (STEMCAP) connecting scientists, artists and community organizations with Youth In Custody facilities. She is most passionate about helping underserved populations to increase their access to nature and STEM education, along with conducting research to continue to validate the efficacy of these practices.