(SALT LAKE CITY) — When Nalini Nadkarni was a kid, she’d run home from school, climb into one of the eight maple trees in her parents’ backyard and spend an afternoon there with an apple and a book.
That time in the treetops set the tone for the rest of her life: She’s now a forest ecologist at the University of Utah who’s dedicated her career to studying rain forest canopies.
She’s also always looking for new ways to get people interested in science, from fashion made with nature imagery to science lectures at the state prison.
“I’ve tried for years and years to bring the science I do and understand to people outside of academia,” she said.
Her childhood memories made her particularly interested in reaching children. After her own 6-year-old daughter asked for a Barbie, Nadkarni decided to re-fashion the iconic dolls as a scientist-explorer in rubber boots rather than high heels.