Bringing Science and Nature to Prison: An Interview with Nalini Nadkarni

Sunday, November 23, 2-3 PM

“One of the most pressing problems facing society today is the increasing distance between humans and nature.” NaliniNadkarni1

“Another issue—seemingly unrelated—is the failure of our system of incarceration to provide inmates with the education and experiences they need to become useful citizens after release.”

Nalini Nadkarni, PhD, is a world-renowned forest ecologist who works to bring science and job training to prisons. Her innovative efforts promote social inclusiveness of prisoners and reduce post-prison joblessness.

To address both of these problems, Nadkarni has worked with corrections systems in Washington state and across the country to bring science and nature/conservation projects to the incarcerated, from prisoners in minimum security to those in solitary confinement. In her presentation, she will describe her successes and challenges she has faced at the convergence of academic science and state corrections.

Visit Nalini’s Website

90.3FM, Moscow/Pullman,

Listen Here:

November 30, 2015, 7:30PM, CUB Ballroom, WSU:

Please mark your calendar for this free, public, WSU Common Reading event.

Read about the nature imagery in prisons project in the Washington Post.

About the speaker

Widely known as the “Queen of the Forest Canopy,” Nadkarni is a professor of biology at the University of Utah. She specializes in studying rainforest canopy organisms and their interactions in tropical rainforests. She has innovated science engagement and conservation programs that bring lectures, experiential learning and conservation projects to non-traditional public audiences, such as faith-based groups, urban youth, artists, modern dancers, rap singers, legislators and incarcerated men and women. 

Nadkarni has written more than 110 scientific articles and three scholarly books, including “Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees.” Her recent awards include the National Science Foundation Public Service Award, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Public Engagement and the Archie Carr Medal for Conservation. Her work is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society.

She earned her doctoral degree at the University of Washington and has served on the faculty at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. More information is at

About the William Julius Wilson Award and Symposium

Washington State University created the William Julius Wilson Award for the Advancement of Social Justice in 2009 to honor individuals who promote social inclusiveness and diversity in social policies and strive to reduce joblessness.

Wilson received his doctorate in sociology from WSU in 1966 and is widely considered one of the nation’s most influential sociologists. He is the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University.

The symposium and award are sponsored by the WSU Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Office of Equity and Diversity, Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences, Office of the Dean of Students, and Sociology Club.


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