GradShow 2022 keynote speaker to present on tapestry thinking and societal change

Nalini Nadkarni
Nalini Nadkarni

Nalini Nadkarni, a professor of biology at the University of Utah who pioneered the study of Costa Rican rain forest canopies, is the keynote presenter at Grad Show 2022 at Colorado State University.

Nadkarni will present on addressing modern societal issues using the approach of “tapestry thinking,” the intentional connection of multiple ways of knowing, on Nov. 16 at the Lory Student Center Theater at 4 p.m

Ways of knowing describe how individuals make sense of the world and the things surrounding them. Often, ways of knowing are subconsciously interwoven. Nadkarni’s tapestry thinking framework for intentionally connecting ways of knowing helps academics develop their scholarly work and communication skills. This approach can be applied to diverse academic disciplines and societal issues at local, regional, and global scales.

“Dr. Nadkarni’s presentation is a wonderful opportunity for the whole campus community,” said Kristina Quynn, assistant dean of the Graduate School, “As a land-grant university, we have the responsibility and resources to facilitate positive changes happening beyond the university itself. Nadkarni will address how we as academics can use our skills to support that change.”

Celebrate interdisciplinary work from across the university

CSU graduate students representing programs across all eight colleges will present their research, creative works, and entrepreneurship on Nov. 16 in the Lory Student Center. There are 53 departments and special academic units represented this year. Most students will present posters. There will also be live performances and visual art presentations.

“We are excited to bring the GradShow back to an in-person format for the first time after it went virtual in 2020, so students have this opportunity to practice presenting their work live. They get an opportunity for feedback in a facilitative and supportive environment before attending regional and national conferences in the spring and summer,” said Sonia Kreidenweis, interim dean of the Graduate School, “The energy and enthusiasm of our graduate students is so evident when you walk into the GradShow. The excellence and breadth of the presentations and performances, representing disciplines across the university, is inspiring.”

GradShow organizers are seeking judges for the Nov. 16 presentations. Faculty and postdoctoral scholars who are interested in judging can sign up online by Friday, Oct. 28. Presenting graduate students will compete for over $19,000 in scholarship awards. The day will conclude with an award ceremony with appetizers, following the keynote presentation.

A tree canopy researcher’s climb to addressing societal issues

As a scientist, Nadkarni has written over 140 scientific papers and three scholarly books. She carries out research on ecological interactions in rainforest canopies with support from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society. Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the AAAS Award for Public Engagement, the William Julius Wilson Award for the Advancement of Social Justice, and the Archie Carr Medal for Conservation.

Nadkarni engages people outside academia through collaborations with faith-based groups, artists, corporations, and people who are incarcerated in prisons, jails, and juvenile detention centers. Her work is featured in publications ranging from Science to Playboy Magazine, and in public media such as Science Friday and RadioLab. In 2019, the maker of Barbie dolls, Mattel, built TreeTop Barbie based on Nadkarni, a woman of color in a STEM profession, to foster interest in science for children who play with the dolls. Nadkarni’s efforts to increase inclusivity and diversity in STEM span across many sectors of society.

“Academia is an arena that fosters discovery, but its members and activities can be removed from other sectors of society that might benefit from and contribute to our understanding of the world,” said Nadkarni.

Nadkarni’s academic career has been rooted in her curiosity about forests and trees. Her concerns about the negative impacts of human activities such as climate change and deforestation prompted her to develop the approach of tapestry thinking that she will present on at the GradShow 2022 keynote.