Meet Our Team

Prof. Nitya Rao

University of East Anglia (UK)

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Principal Investigator

Nitya Rao is Professor of Gender and Development at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom. She has worked extensively as a researcher and advocate in the field of women’s rights, employment and education for over three decades. Her research interests include exploring the gendered changes in land and agrarian relations, migration and livelihoods, especially in contexts of climatic variability and economic precarity.

She has done fine-grained research on households and intra-household dynamics in these contexts to draw out implications for gendered wellbeing, empowerment and justice, with a particular focus on food, nutrition and health security. She has published extensively on these themes in international peer-reviewed journals and books.

Betty Mntambo

Open University of Tanzania

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Co-Principal Investigator

Betty Mntambo holds a PhD in International Development from University of East Anglia, UK. She is a lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Social Work, Open University of Tanzania. Betty teaches in social sciences courses particularly in Gender Research Methodology; Gender, Food and Environment; Gender and Development; and Community Development. Her major research interest and publications have been on Gender and women issues on rural and urban agriculture, intra-household relations, feminist research, women issues in informal sector activities, urban livelihoods and sustainability, policy analysis, and poverty and development.

She is conversant with multi-disciplinary research methods such as household survey, semi-structured interviews, life histories, Focus Group Discussion. In addition, she can collect primary data at both community and policy level.

Dr. Ombeni Swai

Ardhi University (Tanzania)

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Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Ombeni Swai is an architect and a researcher specialised in urban design, sustainable cities, informal urbanism, architectural analysis and urban transformation. He has more than ten years experience in both teaching and working in architectural practices both in Tanzania and abroad. With a PhD in Urban Design and Human Environmental Studies from Kyushu University, Japan, Dr. Swai received a fellowship to work for two years as a senior Postdoctoral researcher under the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) where he did extensive studies on the Bio-architecture and symbiosis for urban communities in developing countries.

As a researcher, Dr. Swai is currently a reviewer of the International Journal of Habitat Engineering, Kyushu University. He has also published a number of academic papers in peer reviewed journals and he is working in a number of researches in Dar es Salaam. Currently, he is working at Ardhi University (Tanzania) as a senior lecturer focusing on teaching, research and consultancy.

Dr. Ashwin Mahalingam

IIT Madras (India)

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Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Ashwin Mahalingam is a Professor of Civil Engineering at IIT Madras. Ashwin received his B.Tech in Civil engineering from IIT-Madras and then proceeded to Stanford University for a Masters and a PhD in Construction Engineering and Management. In between, he helped start up an internet based company in the USA called All Star Fleet, aimed at providing asset management services for construction companies. Ashwin's research interests are in the areas of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in Infrastructure planning and management, the management and governance of large engineering projects and innovation in the construction and infrastructure sector.

Ashwin's current research focuses on the simulation and modeling of the growth of urban infrastructure. Ashwin is also a co-founder of Okapi Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd and serves as a Director on the Board.

Dr. Chandni Singh

Indian Institute for Human Settlements

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Co-Principal Investigator

Dr. Chandni Singh is a researcher and faculty member at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), Bangalore. Her research examines the human dimensions of global environmental change with a regional focus on the Global South. She explores differential vulnerability to climate change and extreme events, behavioural aspects of climate adaptation, and migration and livelihood dynamics.

She is a Lead Author on the IPCC Assessment Report 6 Working Group II, Contributing Author on the IPCC's Special Report on 1.5 degrees, and serves on the Editorial Boards of Regional Environmental Change, Climate and Development, and Urbanisation.

Dr. Parama Roy

Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

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Research Impact Lead

Dr. Parama Roy is the Lead Researcher heading the ‘Urban Transformation’ portfolio at Okapi Research & Advisory and an Adjunct Faculty at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. She completed her PhD from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While working at the Georgia State University in Atlanta and University of Copenhagen in Copenhagen, her research extensively touched on topics of community gardening and greening for fostering urban sustainability, urban regeneration, and civic empowerment.

Currently she is supporting the Chennai Resilience Centre’s attempt to launch, manage, and monitor the Chennai Urban Horticulture Initiative – an attempt to mobilise urban gardening to build food and ecological resilience.

Prathigna Poonacha

Indian Institute for Human Settlements

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Co-Principal Investigator

Prathijna Poonacha is a researcher and faculty member at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), Bangalore. Her work focuses on understanding climate change impacts and responses in urban and peri-urban geographies both from top-down and bottom up perspectives. In peri-urban Bangalore, her research looks at how communities are responding to climatic and non-climatic risks in the context of rapid social and ecological changes with a particular focus on gender dynamics. She is also interested in understanding and applying various tools to enable multi-stakeholder participation in decision making especially in the urban context.

She has a masters degree in Human Settlements from Katholieke University, Belgium and a bachelor's degree in Architecture from VishweshwaraiahTechnological University, Karnataka.

Sheetal Patil

Azim Premji University, Bangalore (India)

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Co-Principal Investigator

Sheetal Patil is a researcher at Azim Premji University, Bangalore. Since the last 15 years, her contribution to interdisciplinary empirical research has been in the areas of sustainability of smallholder agriculture in rural areas as well as peri-urban areas, with a specific focus on the interlinkages between agroecology and social well-being. Her research interests are in policy impact on the various aspects of sustainability and its assessment at the micro-level. Using the lens of sustainability, she explores agrarian and related issues that range from natural resource management to food security, livelihood sustenance, alternate institutions, cultural practices and traditional knowledge.

Teja Malladi

Indian Institute for Human Settlements

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Co-Principal Investigator

Teja Malladi heads the Geospatial Lab and is part of the Urban Risk and Resilience Practice at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS). He teaches as part of the IIHS Urban Fellowship Programme and the Urban Practitioners Programme. He has an MSc in Geo-Information Sciences and Earth Observation with specialisation in Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk Management, University of Twente and a B.Arch from Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture & Fine Arts University.

Teja's research interests and practice areas are focused on assessing risks and vulnerabilities to natural hazards, examining links between urban morphology, urban disaster and climate risks using geospatial technologies.

Amir Bazaz

Indian Institute for Human Settlements

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Research Impact Lead

Amir Bashir Bazaz is Senior Lead-Practice at IIHS. He holds a PhD in Management from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, with a specialisation in Public Systems. He works on issues at the intersection of economics, climate change mitigation, and adaptation and sustainable development. He has substantial experience in working with various integrated assessment frameworks and modelling arrangements. His current research interests are low carbon societies/infrastructure, climate change adaptation and mitigation (across scales), with specific focus on urban-climate change linkages and climate, energy and environment policy. Amir has a first degree in Electrical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee and started his career in the manufacturing industry, working across functional responsibilities of projects, production planning/control and engineering.

He has previously been the National Expert Consultant to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India for the Second National Communication to the UNFCCC and taught courses in Development & Environmental Economics during his academic engagements at Symbiosis International University, Pune.

Swarnika Sharma

Indian Institute for Human Settlements

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Research Assistant

Swarnika Sharma is an environmental researcher with varied research interests, including urban ecology, animal-human interactions and dog cognition. She describes herself as a researcher by profession, a cook and a reader by passion, and a dog lover by compassion. Hailing from the foothills of the Himalayas, she is a post-graduate in Environmental Studies. She completed her Research Assistantship on a NATCOM project on Wildlife-Human Conflict and Climate Change at Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. She has also written popular science columns for The Weather Channel (weather.com).

Swarnika is currently an external consultant at Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Bengaluru and is volunteering actively with the Charlie’s Animal Rescue Centre, Bengaluru.

Maitreyi Koduganti

Indian Institute for Human Settlements

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Research Assistant

Maitreyi Koduganti has earned a second Masters degree in Water Management and Governance from UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, the Netherlands. Much of her work in the last four years has been in the areas of climate sciences, vulnerability studies, resource management, sustainability and Research-into-Use. Her inclination towards action oriented research and putting research into use led her to developing documentaries and participatory games alongside IIHS, Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (RCRCC) and UNESCO-IHE Delft. In the past, she has worked with organisations like Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) and Development Alternatives in the areas of agrarian studies, climate sciences, and watershed development.

At IIHS, she is working as an External Consultant and has been a part of a collaborative project, CARIAA-ASSAR. She is also engaged in writing several academic articles, blogs and op-eds around climate change and resource management. In her leisure time she enjoys reading, travelling, and singing. She also engages in volunteering for the Water Youth Network.

Amruth Kiran

Indian Institute for Human Settlements

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Research Assistant

Amruth Kiran is a Full-Stack Geo-Developer, part of the Geospatial Lab at IIHS, Bengaluru. A Master's degree from the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing - Dehradun with a specialization in Geoinformatics, ignited his interest in combining aspects of Computer Science with Remote Sensing and GIS.
At GSL, he Integrates opensource tools and services around the dissemination of Big Earth Observation data, large scale surveys and development of Spatial data portals. Amruth has previously worked with the Institute of Trans-Disciplinary Health Sciences and Technology, Bengaluru to map local species of medicinal plants and create an interactive Android application.

Amruth also enjoys video/photography, jamming on his Fender Affinity electric guitar and gaming. He is big fan of the horror genre and hopes to release a book he is writing.

Dhananjayal Mayavel

Indian Institute for Human Settlements

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Research Assistant

Dhananjayan has over seven years of professional experience on projects such as Monitoring Global Urban Expansion, Columbian Cities- Urban Expansion, Land Use/Land Cover Classification, and Geographic Information System (GIS) based slum inventory mapping. At IIHS, Dhananjayan is an Associate with the Geospatial Lab. He provides Geospatial analysis support to Research and Practice projects and is part of the teaching team that conducts GIS courses for the Urban Practitioners Programme and the Urban Fellows Programme.

Geospatial Lab at IIHS

Indian Institute for Human Settlements

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The Geospatial Lab is the centre for spatial research, practice and training activities at IIHS. The lab focuses on research related to spatial analysis, spatial modeling, satellite image analysis and mapping using Geographic Information Systems(GIS), remote sensing, and web services. The lab consists of a multidisciplinary team of computer scientists, planners, architects with expertise in geoinformatics, statistics, machine learning and computer vision.

The lab offers capacity building, training and teaching a diverse range of learners across various levels in public, private and civil society sectors and has trained more than 500 learners in the past three years in courses targeting students; officials in public agencies (urban local bodies, development authorities, public utilities, transport authorities); and private practitioners.

Charles Pryor

University of East Anglia (UK)

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Research Assistant

Charles Pryor is an artist and agroecologist who works at the intersection of agroecosystem resilience, permaculture design and ecopedagogy. Charles has led agroecology workshops at Sakiya (Palestine), unMonastery (Kokkinopilos, Greece), Goldsmiths University (London, UK) and Cityplot (Berlin, Germany). Exhibitions and events include 'Feral Kin' at Auto Italia South East, 'Infrastructure/Residence' at Jupiter Woods, 'On Coping: A Reading for Liverpool' at The Royal Standard and 'Storytelling in the Anthropocene' at Tenderbooks. Charles recently completed a MSc in Climate Change and International Development at the University of East Anglia (Norwich, UK) and is currently working on a research-led film concerning global seed banking practices. Upcoming shows and event include Manifesta 13, 'Traits d'union.s', (Marseille, France) and a workshop/intervention on rainfed agroecosystems at Sakiya (Palestine).

Chitegetse Archangela Minanago

The Open University of Tanzania

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Research Assistant

Chitegetse Archangela Minanago is affiliated with The Open university of Tanzania (Iringa Regional Center), at the department of Sociology and Social work as an Assistant Lecturer. She is currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Health Promotion, Care and Public Health Research Institute, Maastricht University, the Netherlands. Her research focuses on exploring children’s exposure to inter-parental violence. As a social researcher she uses in-depth interviews to reach children’s voices on the risk and protective factors for child harm. She uses think aloud, focus group discussions, cognitive interviews techniques to translate and culturally adapt childhood assessment measures used to examine the relationships between children's exposure to inter-parental violence and resilience, academic performance and socio-emotional adjustment.

She is currently designing an intervention to remedy children’s emotional effects from exposure to inter-parental violence, using intervention mapping approach. Minanago is also fascinated by the origin of life, the laws of the universe, mental health, vibrational learning, cultural anthropology, and enjoys time with nature and family travels.

Mariam Shirima

Ardhi University

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Assistant Research Fellow

Mariam Shirima is an economist; currently employed as an Assistant Research Fellow at the Institute of Human Settlement Studies (IHSS), Ardhi University, Dar es Salaam. She also has a Master Degree in Public Policy Analysis and Programme Management. Her research areas of interests include local economic development; urban economics, and public policy analysis. For the last four years to date, she has been involved in multidisciplinary research projects in Dar es Salaam as a research assistant, team member and research administrator. These include research on urban (in)equality and livelihoods, inclusive urbanization, resilient cities and rural-urban transformations.