From Ecology To Impact Investing

April 24, 2024
Above: Nalini Nadkarni. Credit: Niki Chan Wylie

Harnessed and helmeted, ecologist Nalini Nadkarni has ascended the towering strangler figs of the Costa Rican rainforest to observe the many plants, animals, and microbes that live in the upper canopy. She has done the same in the temperate forests of Washington state. As a forest canopy researcher, this has been her work for four decades. She has published more than 150 scientific papers and articles and was named a National Geographic Explorer at Large in 2023. But that is not where her efforts stop.



Reaching far beyond the scientific community, she has created science education programs for people who are incarcerated, programming for churches and synagogues, and worked with Mattel to create a set of Explorer Barbies to inspire girls to study nature. These efforts speak to Nadkarni’s desire to broaden her reach beyond academia to ensure trees do not go overlooked. That, despite their silent and sedentary nature, people would recognize the multiple ways trees enrich our lives and life on our planet.

It is with this same spirit of creating connections that Nadkarni became a Sorenson Impact Institute Senior Fellow in Residence. She said she sees a great deal of common ground and potential for complementary efforts between ecology and social impact investment. As the Institute’s newest fellow, she will bring her expertise, experiences, and contacts in ecology, conservation biology, and the environment to the Institute to create new pathways to connect ecological actions and programs with the power and mission of impact investment.

Read more about Nadkarni’s career and her vision for her work with the Sorenson Impact Institute at Forbes.