Two new Global India Senior Thesis awards

July 13, 2022

The Chadha Center at Princeton university instituted two Global India Senior Thesis Awards for the AY 21-22. The awards recognized excellence in senior thesis in two broad areas: a) Engineering, Natural and Applied Sciences; b) Humanities and Social Sciences. The awards were presented by Dr. Srivari Chandrasekhar, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, and Dr. Andrea Goldsmith, Dean of School of Engineering, Princeton University, in a well-attended event in May 2022. The inaugural awardees were:

Joshua Eastman was the winner of the Global India Senior Thesis Award in Engineering, Natural and Applied Sciences. He graduated from Princeton University, with a major in Civil and Environmental Engineering. 

Eastman’s senior thesis is titled, “Advancing non-destructive and scalable field methods to measure tree carbon storage and sequestration in Indian cities” (advised by Professor. Anu Ramaswami and Professor. Catherine Peters). His thesis advances Indian urban forestry by developing and applying a nondestructive method including LiDAR scanning and remote sensing of urban trees in the city of Pune, Maharashtra, India. He then applied these urban forestry analytical tools to determine Pune’s citywide carbon stock and sequestration compared to local fossil fuel emissions. His research was, from start to finish, a collaboration with Indian specialists in botany and sustainability for fieldwork and the Indian city Pune. His thesis will be presented to the city of Pune in July and advances Princeton’s M.S. Chadha Center’s collaborative research on zero carbon transition pathways in India. 

Joshua’s thesis received high praises from both his advisors. - His first advisor, Prof. Anu Ramaswami writes - “Rarely have I seen a thesis span work across primary new data generation, using and evaluation of new technology (LiDAR volume estimation), complex geospatial mapping, complex process modeling, and statistical analysis, managing international fieldwork during Covid from Princeton. In addition, the thesis is well written, the student has done in-depth literature analysis and has gone above and beyond in all aspects of the work.”

His second advisor, Prof. Catherine Peters described his thesis as, … “an exceptionally strong senior thesis. The student did fieldwork to measure urban tree volumes in Pune, India using forestry LIDAR methods, and relate them to carbon sequestration potential." …  She went on to add, “This is one of the best senior theses I have seen in CEE in many years. It is strong on all fronts – relevance, field research, analysis, theory, inference, reasoning, literature context, writing, graphics, significant conclusions”.

Peter Scharer was the winner of the Global India Senior Thesis Award in Humanities and Social Sciences. He graduated from Princeton University, with a major in Comparative Literature, and a certificate in South Asian Studies.

Scharer’s thesis titled “Contested Regimes: Revolutionary Signification in Colonial Bengal (1876-1949)” (advised by Prof. Benjamin Conisbee Baer and Professor Robert Phillip), broadly examines how Indian political activists from the 1870s to the 1940s configured overlapping and contradictory projects of national unification, anti-colonial revolution, Hindu revivalism, and agrarian revolt. His thesis asks what were the specific paradigms and models that leaders of these projects sought to follow? Which prominent figures were posited as leaders or torchbearers?

Peter received high praises for his superb project. Quoting his advisor, “In this well researched, crisply-paced, and engagingly- written thesis, Peter’s work is a brilliant constellation of historically connected and semiotically provocative critical junctions … transversing Indian and Italian movements for national unification … across class and caste divides. Peter’s work nimbly traversing genres, time periods, theoretical and interpretive frameworks, and languages”.

His second reader’s comments reiterate these points and he concludes his remark with … “the entire thesis also offers rich and judiciously selected historical contextualization and makes explicit the connections between the conjunctures examined in each chapter. Working with materials in three languages (English, Italian, and Bengali), Peter has produced a remarkably tightly organized, scrupulously documented, and well-theorized senior thesis that represents some of the highest-level undergraduate work I’ve seen at Princeton. He is to be congratulated on this superb project”