Recent Orielensis, Dr Sugandha Srivastav (2018, DPhil Geography and the Environment), has been nominated for the ‘Environmental Sustainability Student Awards’. Throughout her degree, Sugandha received an Oriel Graduate Scholarship generously funded by an Orielensis.
Sugandha has, as she puts it, ‘grown up around the world.’ A resident of Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Fiji Islands, China, Italy, United Kingdom, and Myanmar- her international upbringing is a big part of her identity. To Sugandha, ‘home is where the heart is, and that can be in many places!’
We asked Sugandha about her process of deciding to study Geography and the Environment at postgraduate level. Sugandha shared:
‘From an early age, I was passionate about environmental issues. When I lived in Fiji, the conversation on sea level rise had a very real angle to it.
After my Masters, I ended up working for a company that specialised in environmental issues and it became clear to me that this is what I loved and decided to dive deeper by doing a DPhil. I relished the intellectual freedom of the DPhil and took advantage of Oxford’s vibrant environment to attend as many seminars & workshops as possible to keep learning more about the topic and meet interesting people. ‘
Sugandha is also the co-curator of an exceedingly popular seminar on Environmental Economics. She shared her inspiration for starting the seminar series:
‘We wanted to bring together a community of scholars working on the most pressing environmental issues. I started reaching out within my network and quickly realised that there was significant demand for such a forum. We started the seminar series virtually and noticed that the number of attendees grew rapidly week after week. Within a term, we had created one of the most widely attended seminars. Now it is a self-sustaining forum, with both in-person and virtual sessions. We are confident the momentum will continue. ‘
As well as these successes, Sugandha has recently published a paper at Perspectives on Politics- a significant personal milestone representing one of her first DPhil publications.
‘It is a small reminder that patience, perseverance, and the support of mentors and loved ones can lead to incredibly positive outcomes. I also learnt how behind every positive milestone there is a journey of trial and error! ‘.
Upon hearing about her nomination for the Environmental Sustainability Student Awards, Sugandha found it to be ‘a wonderful surprise’, noting that she felt ‘very honoured […] It is always a great feeling when you realise that others’ value something you have done.’
Academically, she is interested in the decarbonisation of power markets. She states:
‘Electricity is the backbone of many sectors and finding ways to ensure our electricity is carbon free is essential. I want to focus on how emerging markets such as India and South Africa can better integrate sources of low carbon energy into their power grids. ‘
Her advice for students aspiring to study an environment-related subject at university is to:
‘Listen to the news on energy and environment – this is a field that is rapidly evolving with lots of exciting innovation which will change how humans commute, produce, and consume. The most exciting part is that we can create visions for how humans can do things differently: how our cities could be greener, how biodiversity can be restored, and how our connection to the natural world can be strengthened and made symbiotic. My personal recommendation for prospective students is to sign up to the Energy Transition Show which provides the most up-to-date information on the low carbon transition.’