Urban sustainability researcher Anu Ramaswami named inaugural director of Chadha Center at Princeton University

Anu Ramaswami, a pioneering researcher on sustainable urban systems, has been named and the inaugural director of the MS Chadha Center for Global India at Princeton University in New Jersey.

Additionally, she has also been named professor of India studies, civil and environmental engineering at the Princeton Environmental Institute. She will assume her new duties at Princeton on Aug. 1.

Ramaswami has been the Charles M Denny Jr Chair of Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and professor of bioproducts and biosystems engineering at the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota since 2012.

“Few issues confronting India and the rest of the globe are of greater importance than devising sustainable cities — India’s 470 million urbanites are expected to grow to, perhaps, 880 million in our lifetime — and Dr. Ramaswami is the world’s leading scholar on this challenge,” said Stephen Kotkin, the John P. Birkelund ’52 Professor in History and International Affairs and director of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS). “We welcome her as the perfect leader for our center.”

The M.S. Chadha Center for Global India, established in 2018 and part of PIIRS, will bring together scholars and students from all disciplines to broadly explore contemporary India, including its economy, politics and culture under Ramaswami’s aegis.

University trustee Sumir Chadha of Princeton’s class of 1993, whose gift established the M.S. Chadha Center and for whose grandfather the center is named, noted: “We are excited that the new center will enhance both the study of India on the Princeton campus and the role of India as a nexus for addressing fundamental issues that encompass the entire globe.”

Ramaswami will also build a broadly multidisciplinary anchor program within the center focused on urbanization, innovation and global India.

“The way in which India grows and builds her future cities will not only impact human health and well-being within India’s cities but also affect people and the environment at regional and planetary scales,” Ramaswami said. “Connecting urban sustainability research — of my own group and others at Princeton — with new partnerships in India developed through the center can potentially transform India’s urbanization trajectory, helping build vibrant, inclusive, sustainable and resilient cities. This all has incredible potential to benefit some 880 million people who will be living in urban India by 2050, while also solving planetary challenges like climate change.”

“The potential for such far-reaching impact is very exciting and compelling,” she added. “Understanding and helping in the effort to shape this transformation sustainably will require sophisticated interdisciplinary, systems-oriented, and community- and policy-engaged efforts that the center will be well positioned to advance.”

Ramaswami is a member of the UN Environment’s International Resource Panel and the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education (AC-ERE) and has been elected chair of the 2020 Gordon Research Conference on Industrial Ecology.

She received her B.S. in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in Chennai, and her Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

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