A scientist that personifies tree exploration, Nalini Kadkarni is also referred to as “the queen of canopy research”. Her philosophy is rooted in harmonizing with nature as well as using non-traditional vectors to teach the general public about trees and the ecosystem. Collaborating with dance troupes, rappers, preachers and prisoners, her idea of communication revolves around breaking the barriers between “groups” in society so as to find a common denominator for everyone to be involved in the ecological process. Her extensive work on canopy research has created The Big Canopy Research which has helped other researchers understand a rich bank of data she and others are discovering.
We caught up with her to find out what makes her tick in between gaining insights into her analogies between trees and human society, being one with nature and more
I. You have always had a special affinity for nature; you said you would climb trees as a young girl. When did this early interest turn into a choice of career?
II. You make constant analogies between the workings of nature (trees) and human societies. What has led you to delineate this relationship?
III. You’ve mentioned that “as a small brown woman living in the North West (US) away from money and power”, you often question what you can do to bring a change in people’s perspective. What motivates you to keep moving forward?
IV. Living in urban cities, one faces a sense of detachment from trees. How important do you think it is “to be one with nature”?
V. What inspired you to collaborate with prison facilities and work with incarcerated men?
VI. Your outreach programs include collaborations with a lot of artists- sculptors, musicians, dancers. What do these individuals have in common with the scientific community?
VII. How do you integrate your passion with your profession and family life?
VIII. If there was one person you would like to spend time with in the canopies, who would it be?
IX. What would you coin as the greatest source of your inspiration?
X. Besides saving the environment and facilitating ecological awareness, what are the other things that interest you?
You can watch Nadkarni's inspiring TED talk below: