Please tell us about yourself
Parvathy Chandrasekhar is a PhD researcher in the Soil and Land-Use Management Unit at the United Nations University (UNU-FLORES) in Dresden.
Parvathy is committed to finding solutions for today’s challenges regarding sustainable food production for a growing population with declining soil and water resources. While clean water and food are basic human rights, they still are not accessible to at least 2.1 billion people around the globe. The United Nations try to address this issue through Sustainable Development Goals which forms the epicentre of Parvathy’s research.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?
Parvathy’s first encounter with water conflicts was as a child, when the sweltering summers in her hometown Chennai, India, caused conflicts in an otherwise peaceful community due to the prevalent water scarcity. She was also appalled by the chronic water pollution in her city and how families could easily ingest pesticides from everyday food products. This prompted her to pursue her Bachelors in Agricultural Engineering from Anna University in Chennai.
Tell us about your career path
Parvathy first came to Europe in 2012 with a scholarship from TU Delft in the Netherlands to pursue her Masters in Hydrology. She was impressed by the drinking water quality as well as the massive structures the Netherlands has in place to protect its land from being submerged by the rising sea level. After her Masters, she worked for a start-up called Waterwatch Cooperative in The Hague. It aims to reduce the use of pesticides for crops by alerting farmers when crops are more prone to be attacked by pests. She also worked with Waterlex in Geneva to bring out a book on human rights-based access to water.
Parvathy came to Dresden in 2015 to continue her research under the joint PhD programme of UNU–FLORES and TU Dresden. Her work is supervised by Dr. Kai Schwaerzel and Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Feger and funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). Parvathy hopes to strengthen soil and water management strategies in the developing world through technical insights and policy changes.
How does your work benefit the community?
Her research focuses on how different land-uses affect the soil and water cycle on earth and its implications for food security.
Parvathy finds that the pursuit of peace is a life-long journey. She believes that the first step towards bringing peace to the world is to find peace within oneself. The journey of every person seeking peace is different but it is the struggle that unites us all. She finds her peace in dancing, writing and gorging on spicy food!