The Edinburgh Earth Initiative recently welcomed Pratap Chandra Acharya, Swati Kumari, and Suparna Karmakar, all from India, to the University of Edinburgh as a part of the Commonwealth Professional Fellowships 2022/23. 

Group of Members from the Clean Air Fellowship standing outdoors on hillside

Designed to empower mid-career professionals from low- and middle-income countries, the Commonwealth programme enables professionals to spend 12 weeks at a UK host organisation to work on a specific project, equips them with new opportunities and resources to foster their career development, and helps them to expand their international networks. 

The launch event, hosted by University of Edinburgh, saw 19 fellows from 5 countries –  India, Uganda, Pakistan, Ghana, Botswana –  travel to Edinburgh for a networking event and a guided hike up the iconic Arthur’s Seat (pictured above).

This year’s fellowship programme responds to the UK government’s call to action at COP26 in Glasgow to focus on professionals working to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, lower rates of air pollution or promote marine conservation.

Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Clean Air Fellowship 

Over the next three months, the Edinburgh Earth Initiative will deliver a carefully curated programme of interdisciplinary training and professional development for three Fellows focused on the intersections between climate, health and air pollution in India.  

Staggered around the parameters of deepening knowledge, building skills, setting targets, tackling challenges, creating partnerships and collaborations, the Edinburgh Earth Initiative will connect the Fellows with University of Edinburgh researchers working on air pollution, respiratory health and decarbonisation pathways.  

The Fellows will also take part in a range of research and networking based activities allowing them to engage deeply with the wide range of issues spanning the areas of clean air, science & technology, innovation, public policy, and gender. By the end of their fellowship the Fellows aim to develop a working paper that examines the co-benefits of investments in green hydrogen for reductions of air pollution in Indian cities.    

To aid continuing collaboration, the Edinburgh Earth Initiative is also keen to cultivate a partnership network in India comprised of Edinburgh Earth Initiative Earth Fellows and The University of Edinburgh’s Commonwealth and Chevening graduates and to provide the Clean Air Fellows with access to the Earth Initiative’s annual series of events to promote sustained engagement.  

Meet the 2023 Commonwealth Clean Air Fellows  

Pratap Chandra Acharya is Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of Pharmacy, Tripura University, India. He obtained his PhD from Panjab University and has received research training from the University of Lisbon, Portugal and CCMB, Hyderabad, India. With more than ten years of teaching and research experience in health research and pharmaceutical science, Dr Acharya is currently involved in establishing a drug metabolomics laboratory at Tripura University that will assist scientists in identifying cases of drug abuse. Through the Commonwealth Professional Fellowship, Dr Acharya intends to learn the long-term impact of air pollution as well as climate change on human health and well-being.  

Swati Kumari is a research fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Science, Technology, and Society (IAS-STS) at the Technical University of Graz, Austria, where she is examining the interconnections between science, technology, and society in the context of the transportation sector. She has more than seven years of work experience in developing technological innovations and sustainable solutions. She received her PhD in Science, Technology, and Society from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in India and has been the recipient of several prestigious international fellowships. Her key research interests include ethics and social sustainability of future urban transportation systems, safety, security & equity in transportation, responsible automation, and policies on E-automobility.  

Suparna Karmakar, a freelance economic policy consultant, is a trade economist by training and a regulatory policy analyst, with over 22 years of professional research experience in international macroeconomy, multilateral and regional trade/investment policy and negotiations, and domestic markets access policy research. She received her PhD in International Economics in 2001 from the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India, and has, among other things, worked on development policies affecting emerging and developing Asian economies, logistics and connectivity for economic development and SME development, to name a few.

When asked about what she hopes to take away from the fellowship, Suparna said: “I hope to interact with experts and practitioners to better understand the clean air policies in the UK and the challenges in their implementation – knowledge that can then inform policymaking in South Asia.”

Watch this space to find out more about what our Commonwealth Clean Air Fellows do next!