Nandini R Shetty

Areas of Interest & Expertise

  • Animal Behaviour
  • Sociogenetics
  • Elephants Sociobiology
  • Science Education
  • Improvement of the Public Education System


Nandini’s educational background is rooted in Biology. She has previously worked in a role at Azim Premji Foundation that led her to explore the intricacies of the public education system and enabled her to actively engage with the school, the teachers, and other stakeholders within the education system and the community. 

During her tenure at the Foundation, she led the Urban Schools initiative — a joint initiative by the Foundation and Wipro to improve the public schools in the city. She worked for nearly five years with teachers and headteachers in the selected schools, focusing on early-grade mathematics, language, and upper-primary science. 

During this period, she also engaged closely with the school community. She worked closely with other civil society organisations to improve community participation at the schools and for the set-up of the crèche. This experience provided her with valuable insights into the challenges faced by government schools, the critical need for teacher capacity building, the nuances of how children learn mathematical, language, and scientific concepts, and the need for effective community participation. 

She regularly co-taught with the teachers in the primary years in Math and Language, guided the higher-grade teachers in conducting science activities, and facilitated the regular tracking of children’s learning levels through informal assessments. She has undertaken various teachers’ capacity-building workshops and worked as a resource person at the state level with Regional Institute of English (RIE). She is a strong advocate of public education and recognises the pivotal role of public education in shaping a just, equitable and humane society. 

Nandini’s academic journey began with MSc in Biosciences from Mangalore University, post which she completed her PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) in Bengaluru. During her PhD, she delved into the intriguing world of Asian elephants, focusing on social structure, genetic relatedness, and dominance relationships of female elephants of Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks in southern India. She studied the social structure of the elephant population using data collected from uniquely identified adult females. She examined whether female Asian elephant populations of southern India and Sri Lanka differed from the society of African savannah elephants. 

Her research also delved into understanding if female associations were influenced by genetic relatedness. She explored dominance relationships within female groups, investigating whether they exhibited linear dominance hierarchies and whether age played a role, as observed in African savannah elephants. Additionally, she also examined the dominance interactions between different groups of elephants. Her postdoctoral work continued to investigate dominance relationships in more detail.

Nandini remains passionate about elephants and continues her research in this field. Her future work will explore how relatedness among female elephants influences their dominance relationships and the intricacies of within-group behaviours. 


Journal Articles

Magazine Articles

Online Articles


  • Shetty, N.R. (2023, August 12). Social life of Asian elephants and their management. Department of Forest, Environment and Climate Change, Jharkhand. 

Ongoing work

  • Shetty, N.R. Dominance relationships amongst female Asian elephants in Nagarahole-Bandipur, Southern India.
  • Shetty, N.R. Genetic relatedness and associations in female Asian elephants in Nagarahole-Bandipur, Southern India.