Please tell us about yourself.
I have always believed in striving for diverse academic and life experience. Putting oneself in a constructive, unfamiliar environment and observing how one reacts to what it has to offer is the best way I know to attain individual growth. Hence, after my B.Tech in Civil at VIT Vellore, when Virginia Tech, U.S., offered me full funding to join their M.S, programme in civil (environmental) engineering, I happily accepted it. At Virginia Tech, I carried out scientific environmental research that was published in a reputed international journal. During this period, I was exposed to a highly interdisciplinary nature of research. It soon dawned upon me that instead of living confined within one’s own academic realm, having the ability to survive at the nexus of economic, political and scientific front is critical for any individual who aspires to make a big impact in society.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?
So I returned from the U.S. to join the Young India Fellowship (YIF) in New Delhi for studying liberal arts. YIF turned out to be an extraordinary experience which transformed my understanding of the world. Arriving with an advanced American engineering degree, I found myself surrounded by amazing Young India Fellows who hailed from backgrounds as diverse as law, journalism, psychology, pharmacy, economics, political science and natural sciences, among others. We were encouraged to bring together our respective unique perspectives on current affairs and shape them into one coherent voice which I find to be a critical skillset to have in today’s intricately interwoven world. My YIF experience motivated me to study how government policies are framed around scientific research in environment. So when I was selected by the French Government among 12 national scholars for the Charpak exchange scholarship on YIF-Sciences Po exchange, I moved to Sciences Po, Paris, to study environmental policy.
How was the YIF experience?
Sciences Po gave me the opportunity to interact with my European peers in a dynamic Parisian setting on topics such as environment and development in East Asia, sustainability of growth in developing nations, and economics and international geopolitics over mineral resources. While studying in Paris, I was brought to the forefront of political and economic challenges associated with the implementation of sustainable technological solutions to the ongoing environmental issues. I began to feel confident that I had received a holistic training necessary before starting on my doctoral degree. YIF was a positive inflection point in my career and continues to influence the succeeding events in unprecedented ways.
What are you doing now?
I am now pursuing PhD, conducting analytical environmental research in chemical and environmental engineering at Yale University, U.S. Yale highly encourages learning across the board which led me to interface engineering with economics and write a discussion on the alternatives to economic growth. It has been selected among the world’s best 16 articles for the Leaders of Tomorrow Summit at the St. Gallen Symposium 2016, Switzerland. I encourage students to strive for a holistic education in life as it enhances the effectiveness of one’s ideas in the modern world.