Tell us about yourself

As a Ph.D student at the Faculty of Science and Technology, NMBU (Norwegian University of Life Sciences), I am working on my research topic of “Enhancing resource recovery through better surveillance and process control’ under the supervision of Prof. Harsha Ratnaweera.

My Ph.D program is a part of an NFR project ‘RECOVER’ which focuses on developing new processes for enhancing removal and recovery of nutrients (essentially phosphorus) from wastewater. With a background in process modeling,  optimization, and control, I am currently working on developing new tools for better online surveillance and control of wastewater treatment processes.

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What are you trying to find out with your research?

I am a Ph.D student from the Water Environment Sanitation and Health (W.E.S.H) Group at Realtek. I work as part of an NFR project called RECOVER (which consists of a larger research consortium involving NTNU-Trondheim and SINTEF). The group works on designing processes and strategies for efficient removal and recovery of valuable resources (carbon, nitrogen and mainly phosphorus) from municipal wastewater. With a Bachelor degree in chemical engineering specializing in advance optimal process control, the main task in my Ph.D program is to design a smart control system to automate and optimize the removal and recovery process.

How does your work benefit the community?

Global resources of mineral Phosphorus are rapidly depleting from the earth’s core. Wastewater sludge: an output from every municipal sewage treatment plant, has been identified as one of the largest source of phosphorus. Various treatment alternatives are explored to recover phosphorus from wastewater sludge. Extensive research is been carried to optimise the removal and recovery efficiency of phosphorus and simultaneously reduce the recovery costs.

Process instrumentation; control and automation is the backbone of any medium to large-scale process industry. My work largely focuses on improving the removal and recovery of phosphorus through better surveillance and process control.

Where are you from and how did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?

I was born in a small town in the southernmost tip of India called ‘Trivandrum’. I grew up in the eastern part of India; in a small city called Visakhapatnam. I came to IIT Mumbai to do my Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering; lived and worked there for almost 10 years before I decided to pack my bags and leave India. My next stop was Cluj, a student city in the Transylvanian region of Romania where I finished my Masters in Advanced Chemical Process Engineering (ERASMUS MUNDUS MASTERS PROGRAM-TECHNO-II). I spent my next 3 years in there, before receiving an offer from NMBU.

What is your favorite thing about NMBU/favorite thing about Norway in general?

The support, encouragement and the generous funding we receive for our research has been one of the most interesting part of being a PhD student at NMBU. After wandering around different cities in Europe, Ås has been so far the most silent and peaceful place I lived. The respect for personal space, polite and helpful people all around, well-structured bureaucratic process, punctuality of public transport, reliability of health care system are a few things to mention.

How do you like to spend your spare time?

Being a Ph.D does not give us a stable schedule of ‘leisure time’. However, I manage to snatch a little time from our rather stressful life to go dancing. I love Salsa, Bachata and cha-cha-cha. I love to cook and bake. Most of my weekends are about conducting a different kind of experiment in my kitchen.  I recently bought a PlayStation, so a large proportion of my time goes in playing ‘Army of Two’ ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Mortal Combat’.


What can SoDoC do to improve life for PhD candidates at NMBU?

In the dull, dark and stressful life of a Ph.D student, SoDoC gives you a clear message that ‘you are not alone’. The social activities organized by SoDoC is an excellent way to meet students from other faculties and research groups. It is an amazing place to be; especially if you are new to Ås or to Norway.  We also help students by providing them important information on the different opportunities available at the campus to help them through their life as a PhD student at NMBU.