Graduate Students

 SOWPARNIKA BALASWAMINATHAN is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at UC San Diego. She studies ethnographic & art museums, South Asian artisans, discourse, and ethics. She has taught anthropology, world history and writing and is currently the Coordinator for South Asia Initiative. 

 NAVEEN BASAVANHALLY is a PhD candidate in Economics at UC San Diego.  His research revolves around empirical questions related to charitable giving and prosocial behavior, with a focus on organ donation and how public policy can help bridge the gap between the demand for organ donations and the supply of organs available for transplantation.

 RUVANI FONSEKAMPH, MSW, is a PhD Student in the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in Public Health, Health Behavior track. She is working with Dr. Jay Silverman at the Center on Gender Equity and Health within the Department of Global Public Health as a Predoctoral Fellow. She is working with Dr. Silverman on adapting his “Addressing Reproductive Coercion in Health Settings” (ARCHES)  brief clinical intervention to a South Asian context in partnership with Ipas Bangladesh.

 RADHIKA GOYAL is a PhD candidate in Economics. She is interested in public finance, development and political economy. Previously, Radhika was working within the Global Facility for Disaster Risk and Reduction at the World Bank. Prior to that, she has worked as a fellow in the economics department at the University of Chicago conducting research on the social cost of carbon; associate for the Foreign Policy Group; research analyst at the Brookings Institution focusing on macro-fiscal issues for African economies; and as a country economist in Rwanda researching on public finance and education.  Radhika holds an MSc in Economics for Development and a BA in Economics and Management from the University of Oxford.

 SYEDA SHAHBANO IJAZ is interested in issues of political and economic development within institutionally fragile or conflict-affected states. She wants to study whether cash grant handouts, such as the Benazir Income Support Program in Pakistan, and foreign aid funded development programs in general, increase political participation and engagement with local politicians. Syeda is also interested in analyzing innovative methods of financial inclusion in institutionally fragile states using a global framework.
Education: M.A. Political Science (NYU), M.Sc. in Economics for Development (Oxford), BSc (Hons) in Economics (Lahore University of Management Sciences). 

  ARUSHI KAUSHIK is a second year Economics Ph.D. student at UCSD. She was working as an Assistant Professor at the University of Delhi before joining UCSD. Arushi has a B.A. in Economics from Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi and a Masters in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics. She interned with the Reserve Bank of India in the summer of 2012. Her interests lie in developmental issues and the related political economy aspects.

 SOHAIB KHAN is a doctoral candidate in the department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) and the Institute of Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) at Columbia University. His research lies at the intersection of Islamic legal ethics, critical theory, and the anthropology of finance. Sohaib’s ethnographic work has followed Muslim jurists straddling the domains of madrasas and Islamic banks in Pakistan. His dissertation research, supported by the Wenner-Gren foundation and the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life (IRCPL), seeks to understand how religious piety and ordinary ethics are shaped in cultural and institutional milieus penetrated by finance. More specifically, he studies textual and mimetic practices of Muslim jurists that authorize “Shari’a Compliant” alternatives to debt-based finance. Sohaib will be in residence at UCSD during 2017-2018. 

 KANIKA KHANNA is a PhD candidate in the Division of Biological Sciences at UCSD. She earned her B.Tech and M. Tech degrees from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. Her thesis revolves around imaging complex cellular processes in bacterial systems at a near native resolution using new modalities in the field of cryo-electron microscopy.
She is also involved with Asha for Education, San Diego Chapter ( and is the Project Coordinator for the chapter. Asha for Education was founded 26 years ago and is run by volunteers to bring about socio-economic change in India through the education of underprivileged children. The hope is that one day all children in India will have access to basic education and training to empower them to achieve their dreams. You can contact Kanika ( to get to know more about Asha and how you get involved.

 LAUREN NIPPOLT‘s research compares the experiences of individuals who perform social work in different institution contexts in North India, particularly in Delhi and Chandigarh. She focus on two particular groups of individuals performing social work: 1) those at secular non-government organizations or clinics and 2) those who do seva, or self-less service within the Sikh tradition. Lauren investigate how institutions influence the motivation behind engaging in this work, shape experiences of well-being or the occurrence of “burnout” among workers, and construct care as an object worth providing to others in ways that reflect and shape their moral experience. By comparing social care work in these contexts, Lauren aim to uncover how the tradition of care in India is infused into these forms of social work, and how the ideologies of NGOs and seva shape and influence motivation, subjectivity, and continued engagement in this labor. 


 VINEET PANDEY‘s research investigates an approach for online learners to create scientific theories. His thesis is that integrating conceptual learning with task-specific scaffolding enables people to perform personally meaningful and useful scientific work. Three online systems – Gut Instinct, Docent, and Galileo – evaluate this thesis by teaching people to transform an intuition into an experiment. Vineet’s work highlights the promise and difficulty of dual-objective online learning experiences where people (a) learn about nascent scientific domains and (b) contribute novel, difficult-to-find knowledge that complements ivory tower science. The success of these systems is measured by the quality of scientific work and learning gains of participants. 

  JOHN PORTEN is a PhD candidate in Political Science at UCSD. His research focuses on local political development in contexts of state weakness, and particularly on community organization during civil conflict. His dissertation examines the role of forestry management groups during the civil war in Nepal. He argues that the experience of managing forest resources allowed some Nepali communities to organize more efficiently during the war. Maoist insurgents responded to this capacity by employing lower levels of violence and higher levels of service provision in communities with more forestry management groups.

  SUSHIL S is a doctoral student in the department of Education Studies at UCSD. He is interested in the sociological aspect of schooling and how current schooling systems which often abet traditional socio-economic hierarchies must adapt as we struggle towards more egalitarian societies. Specifically, he wishes to investigate common practices in Indian schools that help strengthen or weaken caste-based prejudices in students.
He has a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay and a Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Mumbai.

 SIDDHARTH is a Ph.D. student majoring in Intelligent Systems, Robotics, and Control at the University of California San Diego. His research interests lie at the intersection of electrical engineering and computational neuroscience with applications in affective computing. Specifically, he has been working on understanding the elicitation and detection of human emotions using wearable bio-sensors. He has also been writing around the democratic traditions of India and the United States of America.

Before joining UC San Diego for graduate studies, he received Bachelors in Electronics and Communications Engineering from Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad. His professional experience includes undertaking research internships in Facebook, Samsung Research America, French National Center for Scientific Research, and National University of Singapore.

 SAMEEM SIDDIQUI is a Ph.D. student in the Economics Department at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and his research interests lie in the field of development and labor economics. His current interests and work relate to how recruitment and contracting policies in government institutions effect performance of its employees 


 SINDHU THIRUMALAISAMY follows ways in which sound challenges scopic regimes. Sindhu’s work engages a poetics of uncontainability across different sites, cultures, and borders. She often works with other artists and activists, taking on roles of researcher, recordist, editor, and performer.