Global Director, The Echo Network
Born in the rural St. Lawrence Valley of New York State, Prof. Shannon Olsson has travelled across four countries and three continents to dedicate herself to listening to nature’s chemical conversations across India’s diverse ecosystems. Her science is committed to laying the foundation for a sustainable India, and her recent studies address ecological agriculture in India’s coffee plantations, the impact of air pollution on our wild animals and insects, the effect of climate change on our ecosystem services, and the bioremediation of our ocean microplastics by marine sponges. A Fulbright Scholar, Ramanujan, and INK Fellow, Shannon’s research has been featured by CNN, Inverse, Cosmos, TEDx, Syntalk, Sci-Illustrate, Dublin Science Gallery, V&A London, Chemical and Engineering News, and the DST Science Express train. Since 2014, Shannon has been a faculty member of National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. After slowly observing her beautiful field sites across India disappear due to climate change, development, or degradation, she realized that as a scientist, she had a choice. Either she could keep studying biodiversity until it disappeared, or she could work with others to find a better way to preserve our ecosystems for the future. That’s when she had the chance to meet the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India. With his advice and encouragement, she started the echo network, an international social innovation partnership with the specific focus of increasing scientific awareness, engagement, and insight for sustaining India’s human and environmental ecosystems. Shannon is a co-PI in the Biodiversity Collaborative, and a founding member of ECOBARI (Ecosystem-based Adaptation for Resilient Incomes). She also serves through the echo network’s international hub as Special Scientific Envoy to India with the Danish Academy of Technical Sciences (ATV) in close collaboration with the Danish Innovation Center in India (under the auspices of the MFA and the MHER).