Harini Nagendra

Areas of Interest & Expertise

  • Urban Ecology and Sustainability
  • Forest Conservation
  • Land Change Science
  • Collective Action and Commons Research
  • Remote Sensing for Ecology and Conservation


Harini Nagendra is Director of Research Centre at the University, and leads the University’s Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability.

Nagendra is known for her research spanning over 30 years on forest conservation, and urban sustainability, with several seminal publications in both areas of work. Her interdisciplinary work on forests combines remote sensing, biodiversity studies and institutional analysis, and is recognised for elucidating the link between pattern and process in the human-dominated landscapes of South Asia. 

Her work on urban ecology and sustainability highlights the importance of urban ecosystems in contributing critical ecosystem services and impacting urban resilience and human well-being, especially of marginalised communities — an important global gap, especially for the Global South. 

For her interdisciplinary research and practice, she has received many awards including the 2009 Cozzarelli Prize from the US National Academy of Sciences, the 2013 Elinor Ostrom Senior Scholar award, and the 2017 Clarivate Web of Science award. She is an elected member of The World Academy of Sciences, Trieste, and the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi. She has written over 200 academic papers, including recent publications in Nature, Nature Sustainability, and Science, and is on Stanford University’s list of the top 2% cited scientists in the world.

In addition to academic writing, she is deeply interested in public communication of academic research. She has written a number of popular books including Nature in the City: Bengaluru in the Past, Present and Future; Cities and Canopies: Trees of Indian Cities; and Shades of Blue: Connecting the Drops in India’s Cities (the last two co-authored with Seema Mundoli).

She is a well-known public speaker and writer on issues of urban sustainability in India, with a monthly column The Green Goblin in the Deccan Herald newspaper, and anchors the University’s annual climate festival of life” series. She also writes the acclaimed Bangalore Detectives Club series, a set of historical mysteries set in 1920s Bangalore — the first book in the series was shortlisted for the Anthony, Agatha, Historical Dagger and Left Coast Crime awards, and was on the New York Times 100 notable books of 2022 list.

Harini has been a Lead Author on the IPCC AR5 reports, and a past Science Committee member of DIVERSITAS and the Global Land Programme. She engages with international science and policy through her involvement as a Steering Committee member of the Future Earth Programme for Ecosystem Change and Society, and the Future Earth Urban Knowledge Advisory Network. She is on the Advisory Board of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology’s Climate-KIC and the WRI Ross Centre for Sustainable Cities, as well as co-editor-in-chief of the journal Global Environmental Change.

Certificate Courses



Selected Conference Keynote Lectures

Selected Journal Articles