Working together with NGOs, village communities, and forest officials in India, Devyani studies the forest impacts of improved stove interventions. Her work seeks to provide solutions to current issues with carbon credits for improved stoves, so they can be a reliable source of funding for future programs. Devyani plans to continue solving issues with implementation of successful ecosystem service conservation programs globally.
Worldwide 2-3 billion people rely on solid fuels for the majority of their energy needs. This reliance contributes to an array of social and environmental problems. For example, unsustainable wood harvesting may contribute to deforestation and forest degradation. Multiple analyses have identified the potential co-benefits (social, environmental, and climatic benefits) of introducing stove technologies, yet most interventions globally have not been successful due to high intervention costs. Additionally, impacts on forest resources and sustainability due to these interventions is not well known. Thus, I will study forest impacts of improved stove interventions and provide solutions to current issues with carbon credits for improved stoves so they can be a reliable source of funding for future programs.
What does being a Public Scholar mean to you?
As academics we often fall in the trap of peer reviewed jargon filled papers while forgetting to communicate our research with relevant parties. Too often we become isolated within lab environments or not answer the most pressing issue facing communities, citizens, and environment. In contrast, a public scholar engages with local communities and partners to identify the important questions and works in collaboration with them to identify a solution.
In what ways do you think the PhD experience can be re-imagined with the Public Scholars Initiative?
I hope that this initiative creates awareness about the changing face of a Ph.D. as many students now enter programs without the end goal of becoming an academic. The networking opportunities and connections with external organizations would help promote the changing face of the Ph.D. It provides an opportunity for the students to show how research can and should be communicated through non-traditional means with concerned parties.
How do you envision connecting your PhD work with broader career possibilities?
Working with local NGO’s and forest officials has created a network for my research. Working on a multi university project has also created networks within my field across countries and universities. I want my Ph.D. to inform my work with international environmental (and carbon) finance organizations.
How does your research engage with the larger community and social partners?
My research questions were formed after conversations with local communities, forest officials, and a few experts in the field. I work with local NGOs in the remote communities of India where we receive regular feedback from the village households and forest officials. With this information we are able to make necessary changes and adapt my research so that the most important questions in the communities are answered.
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?
Even though I held an MBA in finance and worked for multiple Fortune 200 companies, my true passion lay in the environmental sciences and, in 2010, I finally decided to switch careers by enrolling for a M.Sc. in Environmental Science at The Ohio State University. Feeling highly motivated in the research environment I decided to continue on to a Ph.D. in Environmental Finance at the Faculty of Forestry at UBC.
Why did you choose to come to British Columbia and study at UBC?
While researching the top environmental science programs for a Ph.D., I learned about the faculty of forestry at UBC, and a colleague informed me about a supervisor within the faculty who worked on interdisciplinary environmental research. I contacted my current supervisor who inspired me to use my corporate skills for future environmental conservation. The supervisor and the department seemed like a perfect fit, and within a few months I found myself pursuing my Ph.D. at a top forestry school.
I hope to make the process of environmental finance smoother and more efficient for future conservation efforts as I feel that Payments for Ecosystem Services provides a series of pathways to securing our survival in the face of climate change.