Specialization: Water resources and sanitation planning in developing countries
Hometown: New Delhi, India
Previous degrees: Bachelor of Architecture – School of Planning and Architecture New Delhi ‘12, Master of Regional Planning – Cornell University ‘17
Saumitra’s research focuses focus on risk and vulnerabilities in urban water and sanitation in the context of low- and middle-income countries. Prior to starting his PhD, Saumitra worked on several research projects related to urban water management in India. For his master’s thesis project, he studied the vulnerability of households to flooding in the informal settlements of Kolkata. During his field visits he realized the importance of reliable access to, and provision of water and sanitation facilities for reducing risk and decided to apply to PhD programs to study this subject in greater depth. Saumitra also worked as a research associate at the Tata-Cornell Institute conducting spatial analysis of food systems in India. He also worked as a planner in an interdisciplinary team at Cornell studying the motivations behind the different responses by communities to flooding in Upstate New York.
He was delighted to be accepted into UNC’s program not only because of the program’s reputation for high quality research on water and sanitation but because of the diverse faculty and students that would enrich his education by providing opportunities to learn new approaches and methods for addressing planning problems.
In the department, Saumitra is part of the PhD Policy Committee. He enjoys studying at the PhD office space with his peers, finding it a very stimulating environment where students play a significant role in each other’s education. Saumitra was also the recipient of the Druscilla French Fellowship in 2019.