IIT Bombay Student Researchers Make Waves Down Under (Part 1) Sujit Chauhan and Yagya Narayan Secure the Coveted Australia India Research Students (AIRS) Fellowship

Sujit Chauhan and Yagya Narayan are two of the four brilliant student researchers from IIT Bombay, who proved that determination, perseverance, and unwavering passion can yield remarkable results. They were recently chosen for the prestigious “Australia India Research Students" (AIRS) Fellowship program. These young researchers have not just excelled in their academic pursuits but are also inspiring their peers and fellow students at IIT Bombay to dream big and reach for the stars.

The Dean ACR Newsletter is delighted to speak to Sujit and Yagya on their academic journey so far and what they have planned for their future.

Hi guys! A big round of applause to you for being chosen for the “Australia India Research Students" (AIRS) Fellowship program. What an incredible honour! But before I ask you more about the program, can you tell us about your academic background first?

Sujit: Thank you for the warm congratulations! I am elated to talk about my academic background. I have attained a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in Economics from Pandu College (Gauhati University) and the University of Hyderabad. Subsequently, I pursued an M.Phil. in Planning & Development from IIT Bombay. As a Ph.D. research scholar at IIT Bombay, I am currently exploring the linkages between technology adoption, disadoption, and climate change adaptation among smallholder farmers.

Yagya: Thank you, Roopa. I have pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Production and Industrial Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee (IITR). Currently, I am an M. Tech. + Ph.D. dual degree student here at IIT Bombay.

Tell us more about the “Australia India Research Students" (AIRS) Fellowship program.

Sujit: The “Australia India Research Students” (AIRS) Fellowship program is an initiative to foster connections and promote deeper research collaboration between emerging researchers from India and Australia. This bilateral program, led by the Australia India Institute and funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, facilitates short-term research exchanges (4-8 weeks) across various research streams and disciplines. To become eligible for the program, applicants must be enrolled in institutions with pre-existing engagements with the host country’s institute. The selection committee reviewed all applications, assessing their quality, originality, and alignment with the program’s objectives. I am deeply privileged to be one of the 35 researchers selected for this esteemed fellowship.

Yagya: To add to what Sujit said, in Spring 2022-23, Prof. Amit Agrawal, Mechanical Engineering Dept., and the Dean of International Relations, told me about this fellowship and suggested that I should apply for it. The hope was that if I could get this fellowship I can visit my selected university on my selected topic of study.

Can you tell the readers more about your research?

Sujit: For my project, I am working with Dr. Ram Pandit (Associate Professor, School of Agriculture and Environment) at the University of Western Australia. My study focuses on conducting an in-depth examination of the impact of micro-irrigation technology adoption on water conservation outcomes within the South Asian region. Employing a systematic review approach in line with the PRISMA framework, I have meticulously formulated protocols to select studies that are most pertinent to conducting a thematic review and comprehensively understanding the pathways through which water conservation practices can be enhanced.

Yagya: I am pursuing my Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and specializing in fluids and thermal engineering. My research focuses on droplet wetting and its impact on functional surfaces.

Investigating the fundamental physics of the heat transfer process in the impact of droplets is essential to understand various industrial requirements. The dependency of droplet impact and heat transfer phenomena on parameters like droplet size, impact velocity, thermophysical properties of liquid, surface characteristics, and environmental conditions is well studied in the literature. However, only a few studies are available on heat transfer for multi-component droplets on surfaces. The challenges are the temporal changes in the droplet composition as heat transfer progresses. In this research project, we propose to investigate heat transfer during the interaction between a train of a multi-component liquid droplet with a heated surface.

How does your research help the world around us?

Sujit: My research focuses on the critical aspects of climate change adaptation, such as the adoption of modern technologies, integration of farmers’ traditional knowledge, and understanding their risk attitudes. By comprehensively examining these aspects, I aim to provide valuable insights and recommendations for enhancing the resilience and livelihoods of small and marginal farmers. Through this work, I strive to contribute to the broader societal goal of building agricultural systems that can effectively withstand and adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.

Studying the farmers’ complex decision-making process is crucial for designing effective interventions and strategies that encourage sustainable technology adoption practices and mitigate barriers to disadoption. In doing so, my research plays a pivotal role in supporting evidence-based decision-making and promoting the adoption of environmentally friendly and economically viable practices within the agricultural sector.

How did IIT Bombay’s ecosystem help you on your academic path toward excellence?

Sujit: The academic ecosystem at IIT Bombay has played an instrumental role in shaping and enhancing my academic journey toward excellence. The institution offers an exceptional working environment that caters to the needs of aspiring researchers like myself. One of the remarkable aspects of IIT Bombay is the availability of 24/7 laboratory facilities, which have been invaluable in facilitating my research activities. Secondly, the well-equipped libraries provide excellent opportunities to learn and research. Thirdly, I found the guidance and mentorship from my Ph.D. supervisor (Prof. Haripriya Gundimeda) to be the most important factor in my growth as a researcher. I am immensely grateful for the opportunities and support I have received within this enriching academic ecosystem of IIT Bombay.

Yagya: Throughout my time at IIT Bombay, the ecosystem and support provided by the institution have played a crucial role in my academic path toward excellence. The course instructors at IIT Bombay not only imparted knowledge and skills but also instilled a research mindset within me. Their guidance and expertise helped me develop a deep understanding of the subject matter and maintain focus on my research goals.

I am particularly grateful for having Prof. Rajneesh Bhardwaj as my Ph.D. supervisor. His unwavering support and motivation have been instrumental in my academic journey. He consistently encourages me to set weekly and long-term goals, pushing me to achieve excellence in my research endeavours. With his guidance, I have been able to refine my research methodology, think critically, and contribute meaningfully to my field of study.

In summary, I will just say that I am privileged to be a part of this institution and appreciate the opportunities it has provided for my academic and personal development.

Shifting gears…tell us what you do to destress and have fun? What are your hobbies?

Sujit: During my free time, I enjoy playing the guitar, watching web series on various streaming platforms, reading books, and listening to economics, psychology, and philosophy podcasts. I also enjoy spending time in nature, such as going for a short hike, trekking, and simply sitting by the beach. I have recently developed a fascination for exploring different varieties of coffee and green teas and observing how they affect my productivity levels. That’s where I have the most amount of fun 😊 😊

Yagya: For fun and personal enrichment, I have a couple of hobbies that play a significant role in enhancing my educational focus. Firstly, I have a deep love for instrumental music, particularly listening to various genres and exploring the nuances of different compositions. I am also a piano player and I love to play existing beautiful melodies. Engaging with instrumental music helps me develop a sense of attentiveness and concentration, as it requires actively listening to the intricate melodies, harmonies, and emotional nuances conveyed through the music. This practice of focused listening translates into my educational pursuits, where I apply the same level of concentration and attention to detail when studying complex topics or analysing research materials. Moreover, music also stimulates my creativity and inspires me to approach problems or projects from fresh perspectives, fostering innovative thinking in my academic work.

Swimming is another hobby that significantly contributes to my physical fitness. Once in a while, swimming sessions provide a much-needed physical outlet and help me maintain a healthy balance between my mind and body. Engaging in physical exercises, such as swimming, enhances my overall well-being and boosts my energy levels, thereby increasing my ability to concentrate and stay focused during my academic endeavours. Swimming also serves as a stress reliever, allowing me to clear my mind and approach my educational tasks with a refreshed perspective.

What does the future hold for you? Do you foresee more of an academic path ahead of you? Or will you work in the industry?

Sujit: I am interested in pursuing an academic path in the future as research gives me a greater sense of fulfilment. I envision myself delving into emerging issues within the field of economics, publishing journal articles, presenting my work at conferences, and participating in workshops. Another reason for my inclination toward an academic path is my love for teaching. I believe the world needs both good researchers and teachers that make a difference. While I acknowledge the valuable contributions of the industry, I currently perceive the academic path as a more natural and suitable choice for me.

Yagya: I have a strong passion for academia and a deep commitment to advancing knowledge in my field. Becoming a professor at a prestigious institute aligns with my long-term goals. I believe that working in an academic environment would provide me with the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research, mentor and inspire students, and contribute to the scholarly community. However, I also recognize the value of industry experience and the practical application of research findings. Therefore, I would be open to exploring industry collaborations or internships alongside my academic pursuits, as they can offer valuable insights and help me bridge the gap between theory and practice. Ultimately, I aim to make meaningful contributions to both academia and industry, leveraging my expertise to address real-world challenges.

As Sujit Chauhan and Yagya Narayan bask in the well-deserved recognition of their AIRS Fellowship triumph, it is heartening to note that their ambitions extend far beyond personal accomplishments. Despite the many options available to work in the industry, both Sujit and Yagya are determined to return to academia and become teachers and pursue research. Both are eager to impart knowledge to the upcoming generation of students and ignite the flames of curiosity that will help society. The two of them truly exemplify the transformative power of education and will, undoubtedly, shape countless minds and inspire future generations to come. 

We thank Sujit and Yagya for speaking to us and wish them the very best moving forward.


 In Part 2 of this series, we will speak with IIT Bombay student researchers – Ramengmawia Bawitlung and Ishan Phansalkar – and get an insight into their research interests as they pursue their AIRS fellowship.