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USU Center for Women and Gender Hosts Spring Luncheon

Thursday, Apr. 04, 2013

USU group from spring luncheon with guest speaker Nalini Nadkarni

(left to right) Janis Boettinger, Helga Van Miegroet, Nalini Nadkarni and Ann Austin. Dr. Nadkarni was the featured speaker at a spring luncheon for women faculty and professional staff hosted by USU's Center for Women and Gender.

Utah State University’s Center for Women and Gender hosted its annual spring luncheon for women faculty and professional staff April 2. The featured speaker was Nalini Nadkarni, director of the Center for Science and Math Education at the University of Utah. Her presentation, “Looking Upward and Onward” illustrated how she has taken her research on tropical forest canopy ecology to inspire and educate the public.

By moving the unknown to the known and linking with basic human values — recreation, aesthetics, spiritual and social justice — she has helped many move from despair to hope.

According to Ann Austin, director of USU Center for Women and Gender, the inspiring and motivating presentation was co-sponsored by the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the Utah Women in Higher Education Network.

Nadkarni has spent two decades climbing the trees of Costa Rica, Papua New Guinea, the Amazon and the Pacific Northwest, exploring the world of animals and plants that live in the canopy and never come down; and how this upper layer of the forest interacts with the world on the ground. A pioneering researcher in this area, Nadkarni created the Big Canopy Database to help researchers store and understand the rich trove of data she and others are uncovering.

Nadkarni teaches at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, but her work outside the academy is equally fascinating — using nontraditional vectors to teach the general public about trees and the ecosystem. For instance, she recently collaborated with the dance troupe Capacitor to explore the process of growth through the medium of the human body. In another project, she worked with prison inmates to grow moss for the horticulture trade to relieve the collecting pressure on wild mosses. The project inspired in her students a new reverence for nature — and some larger ecochanges at the prison.

Nadkarni has given two TED talks and can be found online.

Related links:

USU Center for Women and Gender

USU Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost

Contact: Ann Austin, (435) 797-9222,

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