Forest canopy researcher Nalini Nadkarni to speak

Forest canopy expert Nalini Nadkarni will speak on “Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connection With Trees” on Tuesday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Bowker Auditorium as part of the Environmental Lecture Series.

Nadkarni has been called “the queen of forest canopy research,” a field that relates directly to three of the most pressing environmental issues of our time: the maintenance of biodiversity, the stability of world climate, and the sustainability of forests.

She has spent more than two decades climbing the tall trees of Costa Rica, Papua New Guinea, the Amazon and the Pacific Northwest. In 1994, she realized that there was no central database for storing and analyzing the research she was gathering, so she invented one. This state-of-the-art repository, called the Big Canopy Database, is credited with speeding cross-disciplinary collaboration just as a common database revolutionized the mapping of the human genome.

Nadkarni, a professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., is known for using nontraditional pathways to raise awareness of nature’s importance, working with prisoners, artists, dancers, musicians, and even loggers. Her work has been featured in Glamour, National Geographic, on TV and in a giant-screen film, as well as in traditional science publications.

In 1994, she co-founded and is president of the International Canopy Network, a non-profit organization that fosters communication among researchers, educators, and conservationists concerned with forest canopies. She spends a great deal of energy on public outreach to the general public, children, and policy-makers on matters concerning forest canopies and forest conservation. She has appeared in numerous television documentaries, and was most recently featured as a canopy scientist in the National Geographic television special on tropical forest canopies, titled “Heroes of the High Frontier,” which won an Emmy for best documentary film of 2001.

A new project she initiated involves the creation of a multi-disciplinary Forest Canopy Walkway project on the Evergreen State College campus.

In 2001, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship to pursue her interests in communication of forest canopy research results to non-scientists with collaborations of artists, musicians, physicians, sports figures, and religious leaders.

The lecture is free and open to the public.