We are delighted to welcome Prof. Pennan Chinnasamy to the IIT Bombay family. He joined the CTARA Department in 2018.
He completed his B.Sc. in Physics from Vivekananda College, Madras University in 2002. He has a M.Sc. in Applied Physics from Bharathidasan University, Thiruchirapalli in 2005 and a Masters Degree in Physics from the Wesleyan University, Middletown in 2009 where he was the Research and Teaching Assistant. Add to the mix his Doctoral degree in Hydrology / Natural Resources from University of Missouri, Columbia in 2012 and his experience as the Teaching and Research Assistant there, and you get a genius in making. He worked as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bangalore, and later a researcher at Geohydrology and Remote Sensing, International Water Management Institute till 2016. The professor was a senior researcher at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore for the next two years after which he joined IIT Bombay as an Assistant Professor.
Speaking about his research interests, he mentions that his broad areas of interest include Field hydrology, surface water and groundwater monitoring and modelling, water accounting and Budgeting. Some other interests of his are remote sensing, flood and drought modelling, climate change impact on water resources, natural resources management, interactive mapping, Decision support tools, water resources research with big data and data archiving.
Regarding recent developments in his area of interest, he says that as the PM’s IITB convocation address stressed, there’s a need for more research on Big Data analysis, agricultural water security, and food-water-energy nexus and sustainable water resources management. Specifically, groundwater resources, as India is the highest groundwater extractor in the world and the resource is depleting fast, which can lead to socio-economic stress.
About his future plans at IIT Bombay he told us that at IITB, his plans include identification of cutting edge technology and new data platforms that aid in better and scientifically validated management of natural resources. In addition, he would like to develop tools that can be used by a range of stakeholders, from the start (e.g. farmers) to the end chain (e.g. policy makers). Also, he’s looking into programs that identify local water champions/citizens that can learn appropriate water management technologies and teach their community farmers.
When asked about how to enhance student engagement in class, he said that he aims for most of his students to become key natural resource management personnel, either at the policy level or at the ground level (e.g. NGOs, farmer cooperatives, etc.). On that note, there will be a constant engagement of students from within IITs and at students from local Universities, especially the Agricultural Universities in India. In addition, since most of his research experience was from organizations hosted outside of India, he will look into bringing more international collaborations and exchange students, thereby increasing diversity.
Apart from research and teaching time, Prof. Chinnasamy likes the outdoors. He is a true nature lover, and is deeply interested in theatre, especially short plays and listening to melodies. He also used to pen some poetry and paint; however, nowadays he doesn’t get much time for that. His entire family loves to explore new places and new cuisines.
We wish Prof. Pennan Chinnasamy a happy and prosperous new year.