Nalini Chhetri Honored as Mentor of the Year 

The Sustainable Cities Network is excited to announce that its long-time thought partner and collaborator, Dr. Nalini Chhetri, has been selected as a recipient of the ASU Faculty Women’s Association (FWA) 2024 Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award! The award recognizes outstanding faculty who have demonstrated thoughtful mentorship and leadership to students and other ASU faculty and staff.  

Nalini Chhetri with award nominator Anne Reichman

Throughout Dr. Chhetri’s illustrious career at ASU, she has held various roles, including Associate Director for International Initiatives of the School for the Future of Innovation Society (SFIS), Affiliated Faculty for the Center for Asian Research, and Senior Global Futures Scientist of the Global Futures Laboratory. From being an immigrant to the US to becoming a citizen, her journey has shaped her unique perspective and sensitivity towards others' circumstances. This personal growth has laid a strong foundation for her exceptional mentorship abilities. 

Nalini Chhetri with SOS 498/594 Urban Sustainability Best Practices students at fall 2017 student showcase

Dr. Chhetri stresses sustainability and resiliency should be framed through the lens of equity. For her, urban sustainability is a value system that requires partnership and thoughtful collaboration with underrepresented communities. Dr. Chhetri’s research interests include climate change and adaptation, international development focusing on women and children in developing nations, and engaging with underrepresented communities through participatory research and citizen science. Dr. Chhetri has supported faculty, students, and staff internationally through the following projects:

  • In 2020, Dr. Chhetri led collaborative efforts with G.D. Goenka University, India, along with SCN and ASU faculty, to highlight the importance of collaborative partnerships with universities and cities in sharing sustainability best practices and enhancing urban sustainability. As part of this conference workshop, Dr. Chhetri led an interactive workshop engaging international students and local participants to establish trust and relationships between research institutions and supporting intra-university partnerships and student research and application.
  • She hosted study abroad trips with multidisciplinary teams of ASU students to Nepal, China, India, and other international locations for many years. These trips were educational, and they conducted service learning opportunities through projects such as installing solar to provide power to pump water to a local village, creating biomass/bio-char, researching sustainable agriculture practices, and much more. Having been raised in Asia, she personally understands the needs of communities and underserved populations, as well as the need to mentor the next generation of students/professionals to engage and positively impact local communities, wherever they may be located.
  • In an effort to bridge science and innovation in international communities, Dr. Chhetri leads a research project to establish a PhD in Innovation in Global Development program at the University of Guyana. She has mentored international students as part of this important global effort.
  • Through service to the communities that ASU serves, Dr. Chhetri has continually engaged the next generation of sustainability leaders in high-impact, student-driven learning experiences with Arizona’s communities. Dr. Chhetri exemplifies the ASU Charter through her mentorship and support of students, staff, and faculty in supporting interdisciplinary, engaged research opportunities to ensure the economic, social, cultural, and overall health of Arizona’s communities and communities worldwide. 
  • As part of an NSF project led by ASU, Dr. Chhetri collaborated with ASU faculty and partners in elevating STEM-related academic and career pathways with refugee communities and their families, which included the Bhutanese, Burundians, Congolese, Somalias, and Syrians.

Dr. Nalini Chhetri is a humble thought partner and leader in sustainable development practice and implementation. Through her collaboration with ASU faculty, program staff, students, and ASU partner organizations, Dr. Chhetri has established and mentored hundreds of students and numerous interdisciplinary partnerships within and beyond ASU to foster the next generation of sustainability leaders through collaborative learning opportunities. Her guidance, project-based learning coursework, and mentorship of students (undergraduate and graduate) have led to high-impact, real-world sustainability applications at the local and international levels. Dr. Chhetri motivates her students through a dynamic learning environment that empowers them to develop their professional skills and sustainability knowledge. Through an equity-based, collaborative relationship between her and her students, Dr. Chhetri mentors her students to build valuable leadership skills by allowing them to drive project and research design and develop a deeper understanding of their academic and professional aspirations.