2020/07/02 Dresden, Germany
By Isabella Georgiou
On 26 June 2020, the doctoral defence of Parvathy Chandrasekhar came at a conclusion of her PhD journey as part of the Joint PhD Programme in Integrated Management of Water, Soil, and Waste, implemented in cooperation between UNU-FLORES and the Faculty of Environmental Sciences at Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) with magna cum laude.
Dr Chandrasekhar worked on her research for four years under the joint supervision of Prof. Karl-Heinz Feger (TU Dresden) and Dr Kai Schwärzel (UNU-FLORES, currently Thuenen Institute). The thesis defence was jointly evaluated by the dissertation committee led by Prof. Christian Bernhofer (TU Dresden) and consisted of PD Dr Horst H. Gerke (Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research) and Prof. Edeltraud Guenther (UNU-FLORES).
Under the current circumstances, the public defence took place partially in person and was livestreamed online where members of the public could tune in and take part in the discussions.
Coming from India, Dr Chandrasekhar started her PhD programme in November 2015 and successfully defended her thesis entitled “Predicting land-use induced soil pore space changes and their hydrological impacts”.
Having identified a gap in modelling predictions of transport of water and solutes in the soil, her research is focused on the investigation of the quantitative effects of different agricultural practices on soil structure and hydraulic properties and the evaluation of a pore space evolution model in regards to its capability in predicting the evolution of soil pore size distribution. The aim of her research is to increase the predictability of the models for such soil characteristics, in order to promote well-informed policy making for environmental resources management.
Through her thesis, Dr Chandrasekhar determined that the evaluation of the pore evolution model is suitable for capturing the temporal dynamics of soil pore space in response to tillage and environmental influences, which can be used in hydrological simulations for planning land-use and management measures. She also stressed the importance of a complete data set for calibration and validation of the model.
The joint degree certificate from both UNU and TU Dresden was awarded to Dr Chandrasekhar, who in addition to the research work, also successfully completed the coursework on the basic concepts of the Water-Soil-Waste Nexus.