Abhimanyu Acharya

Abhimanyu Acharya is a doctoral student at The University of Western Ontario, Canada. His research, the first of its kind in North American academia, focuses on the aesthetics and politics of Modern Gujarati Theatre in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He is also a playwright, short story writer, and translator. For his creative writing, he has won the prestigious Yuva Puraskar from Sahitya Akademi, Delhi, and the Sanhita Manch playwriting award 2020. His plays have been staged in several places in India and Canada, the latest one featured at the Mississauga Multilingual Fringe Festival 2021. Abhimanyu is also deeply engaged in community service and translates informative pamphlets about mental and sexual health for distribution in rural areas of India. In London, Ontario, he is part of an informal activist group that organizes rallies and programs to raise awareness about the oppressive governmental policies in different countries.

Sohini Chattarjee

Sohini Chatterjee is a PhD Student in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Western University. She currently serves as Commissioning Editor (Gender Team) for E-International Relations and has previously worked as Non-Fiction Project Editor with HYSTERIA: Feminisms Radicalism Periodical and Activist Platform. She hosts a podcast for the Gender Studies and LGBTQ+ Studies channels at New Books Network where she interviews queer, disabled and racialized scholars on their recently published books. Sohini is also heavily invested in advocacy at Western where she works with queer and disabled scholar-advocates. She is currently co-editing a volume of essays on feminist resistance.

Sayantan Das

Sayantan Das is a MASc student at Queen’s University and a Vector scholarship recipient. Hailing from a research background during his initial years, Sayantan has developed an understanding of concepts like Data Science, Machine Learning and AI Ethics. Prior to starting graduate school, he had interned with organizations such as Indian Space Research Organization and Indian Statistical Institute, and secured an independent research opportunity at ETH Zurich. He has also interned with Child Rights and You helping educate and support marginalized children. He has conducted free classes and workshops on Artificial intelligence and programming to mentor undergraduate students. With his computational skills, he aims to develop better computing units to allow the fair and responsible use of AI systems, improve algorithmic fairness and mitigate bias, and close the gap between academic and industrial AI Research.

Anurag Krishna

Krishna is pursuing a PhD in Civil Engineering Materials at UBC. He graduated with a BTech in Civil Engineering from IIT Dhanbad, India. His research focuses on addressing infrastructure concerns of Canada through 3D printing of low-carbon construction materials for Canadian climates. Krishna has earned accolades for his work within academics. He plans to work with the Squamish First Nation to deploy the technology developed through his PhD work. Serving in various leadership positions within and outside academia, Krishna volunteers to teach Mathematics to Indigenous children in through the Eagles of Tomorrow Education Society. Following his PhD, Krishna seeks a career as a faculty member and to further global attempts to provide affordable housing for all by prudently utilizing our limited natural resources.

Amala Poli

Amala Poli is a health humanities researcher and is currently pursuing her doctoral studies at Western University, Ontario. She is committed to de-hierarchizing relationships among different disciplinary approaches to contemporary health and wellness discourses by recognizing contributions from various stakeholders and experience-centered accounts. In 2019, she has published a book on the subject of life narratives as a form of experiential knowledge titled Writing the Self in Illness with Manipal Universal Press. Amala has also been an in-house writer with Synapsis, a journal in health humanities based out of Columbia University. She has worked on a volunteer basis with mental health support networks in India and Canada, as well as English language teaching in Spain and India.

We would like to sincerely thank the following donors for their generous contributions, which made it possible to provide many additional awards in addition to the ones funded annually by the Khare family:
Anil and Alka Garg in memory of our brother-in-law Pradeep Khare, Neel and Theresa Ahuja, Catherine Bekooy and Sanjay Khare, Anjali Atal on behalf of the Atal family in loving memory of Anand S. Atal, Ashok and Anuradha Nigam, Pratibha Khare, and Anonymous. We would also like to thank IC-IMPACTS for their donation of the 5th place awards.
International students have faced many additional challenges during COVID, and their contributions have provided much needed support to students.

Deeplina Banerjee

Deeplina is a PhD Student in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women Studies at Western University. She researches genocide, sexual violence and transitional justice in South Asia. She is actively engaged in community and volunteers for Anova, a community organisation based in London for victims of gender-based violence and abuse. She is also the Racial Equity Representative of the Gender Equity Committee of the TA and Post-Doc union of Western University. As a former Assistant Professor in Amity University Chattisgarh in India, she was actively involved in gender sensitization work and co-organized a two-day workshop on Cyber Crime and Challenges to Women’s Safety which was supported by the National Commission for Women. She consistently held the post of elected class representative throughout her undergrad and graduate studies in India and also founded a youth community group called Careless Kolkatans.

Debadutta Parida

Debadutta is a doctoral candidate in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Alberta, Canada. His previous training has been in architecture from CET Bhubaneswar, and in Urban and Rural Planning from IIT Roorkee, India. His current research focuses on the politics of climate governance in South Asian cities. He has worked as an architect, faculty, and researcher in India and Germany. Currently, he is involved with Migrante Alberta, an organization advocating for the rights of undocumented immigrants and migrant workers in Canada. In the past, he has been a flood and cyclone relief volunteer in Odisha, as well as a mentor to university students in Karnataka. He is also a columnist on online platforms such as urbanvoices. in and Sambad, where he writes op-eds and photo-stories on relevant issues about marginalized voices in urban India.


Sameena is a Ph.D. candidate and SRSF doctoral fellow in the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory, at UBC. She did her M.Phil. at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and has presented her research work at several international conferences and residencies. As part of her previous academic training, Sameena had an opportunity to work with women from Indigenous communities in Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, West Bengal, helping to build creative designs for textiles and art objects. She has also worked with activist organizations in Delhi after the Gujarat and Muzaffarpur riots to help rebuild affected communities.

Sai Diwan

Sai is a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. Her area of research is audience reception studies with respect to video streaming services in contemporary India. Sai is also a Graduate Facilitator at the Center for Teaching and Learning Technology at UBC and conducts workshops on instructional skills. She has completed her Masters in English Literature from the University of Mumbai. Sai has worked with organizations such as Jidd Vishesh Shala (Jidd School for Children with special needs) and The Social Service League, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai to work on accessibility and compassion in education. Sai hopes to be able to use her training to promote learner centered education in India and Canada.

Rahul Dutta

Rahul is pursuing a PhD in Environmental Engineering at UBC. He has a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from IIT Guwahati, India. In his Masters thesis, he worked with local communities in Guwahati towards the rejuvenation of deteriorating wetlands in the city. Rahul is passionate about aligning scientific research with community service. At UBC, his research focuses on optimizing water treatment technologies to promote equitable access to water and sanitation around the world. In the past, Rahul has been a member of the social service club in his university. He has also been a part of several food distribution campaigns in his home city, Kolkata, as a member of the volunteer-based organization, Robin Hood Army. In addition, Rahul has received awards for his short films on addressing socio-cultural barriers in India.

Bhagyalaxmi Velugu

Bhagyalaxmi is a PhD student at UBC. Her research interest is in understanding the process of meaning making by schools to make them inclusive and the changes that may occur in teaching practices and the learning environment as a result of this process. Bhagyalaxmi worked in the corporate sector in various positions before embarking on her work in education. She has also been part of research and evaluation studies at Tata Institute of Social Sciences in India. She is one of the authors of the status report, ‘N for Nose: State of the Education Report for India 2019: Children with disabilities, commissioned by UNESCO, India. Bhagyalaxmi’s PhD research will be situated in India bringing contextual insights on inclusive education.

Unma Desai

Unma a Master’s student in Computer Science at UBC, with her research interests lying at the intersection of human-computer interaction and healthcare. She graduated from the University of Mumbai in 2018, and was the recipient of the Principal’s Award for Excellence from her college. Her work in the automatic detection of heart attacks using biometric sensors is what motivated her to pursue a graduate degree. In her spare time, she volunteered with the Citizens Association for Child Rights in Mumbai, where she taught underprivileged school children about hygiene practices through interactive methods.

We would like to sincerely thank the following donors for their generous contributions, which made it possible to provide many additional awards in addition to the ones funded annually by the Khare family:
Champa Desai and family in loving memory of Dhirubhai Desai; Sanjay Khare & Catherine Bekooy; Anjali Atal on behalf of the Atal family in loving memory of Anand S. Atal; Neel & Theresa Ahuja; Adan Olivares Castro & Family; Krishan Anand and family; Dr Pran Nath Vashisht; Ravi and Shoba Mathur; Sita and Braj Prasad; and Anonymous. We would like to thank IC-IMPACTS for their donation of the 6th and 7th place awards.

Sheetala Bhat

Sheetala Bhat is a theatre practitioner and writer from Karnataka, India. She has published a book on actresses in colonial India titled Performing Self, Performing Gender with Manipal University Press. She won the 2019 David G. Hartwell Emerging Scholar Award from the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts. Sheetala is currently pursuing her doctoral studies in the department of English at the University of Western Ontario. She has worked with Chintana, a grassroots theatre company, exploring the possibilities of theatre in government schools in Karnataka. She has also been involved in Kannada-language street theatre, theatre workshops, feminist performance activism, and social journalism.

Navjit Gaurav

Navjit is a Rehabilitation Science doctoral student at Queen’s University, Canada. He is an architectural graduate from the School of Planning and Architecture in Bhopal, India. He worked with the NGO Sahyog the Helping Hand in Delhi’s slums for four years, where he improved access to free, high quality education for school dropouts and women. He is a Tata Institute of Social Sciences gold medalist for his Master of Social Work in Disability Studies and Action. A recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship, his research aims to engage the rural Indian community through innovative participation measures to improve quality of life and social integration for people with disabilities.

Rohit Shukla

Rohit is a doctoral student in civil engineering at Queen’s University, Canada. He has completed a masters degree at the Indian Institute of Technology- Kharagpur. In India he has worked with Space Application Centre and Indian Institute of Technology – Delhi as research fellow. His research focuses on hydrodynamic and water quality modeling. He is interested in analysing turbulence and mixing in stratified flows. Rohit has volunteered with Gopali Youth Welfare Society, an NGO in West Bengal which aims to educate underprivileged children. He currently volunteers with the Kingston Rotary Club as a Queen’s Rotaract in to improve quality of life for marginalized populations in the Kingston community.

We would like to thank Mr and Mrs. Anil and Alka Garg; Sharad and Samir Khare in memory of Susheela Devi Khare (“Dadi”); and the Atal family in loving memory of Anand S. Atal for their generous donations, which contributed to the second and third place awards.

Shikha Gupta

Shikha is a doctoral student at the School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University. Shikha is a gold medalist from India and received her post-graduate degree in Health Administration and bachelor’s degree in Occupational Therapy from India. Shikha is passionate about improving access to health and rehabilitation care for marginalized populations. Through her doctoral research, Shikha aims to understand barriers to medication access in individuals with spinal cord injuries and downstream negative health and social outcomes. 


In India, Shikha has worked for seven years as an Occupational Therapist, a researcher, and a health policy advocate for vulnerable rural, urban, and tribal communities living across various parts of the country. In India, Shikha worked on national health programs in the capacity of a national consultant to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. During her clinical practice, Shikha has worked as an “Early Intervention Therapist” for children with developmental disabilities. 


At Queen’s, Shikha has worked on over 10 research projects in collaboration with faculty members across various disciplines and schools. Shikha has disseminated her research at national and international conferences and in several peer-reviewed journals. Shikha enjoys teaching, having taught an M.Sc. Occupational Therapy course and received several teaching assistantships for graduate courses. She also sits on various academic and student level committees at Queen’s and has been serving as a volunteer within the Kingston community. Recently, she initiated and secured funding for a project on academic writing support for international doctoral students and their supervisors at Queen’s University to identify key strategies for students, supervisors, and those who support students and faculty towards success in academic writing.

Kishore Rajaram Seetharaman

Kishore is a 1st year Ph.D. student in Gerontology at Simon Fraser University. He has a master’s degree in Human-Environment Relations from Cornell University in the USA and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Anna University in India. He has volunteered with different community-based NGOs in India that are working towards cleaner green urban spaces that are free of non-biodegradable waste. He has also worked with organizations developing age-friendly and universal-access programs in the USA. Kishore’s research explores how the neighborhood built environment can support community-dwelling older adults with dementia in finding their way through outdoor spaces. His research is geared towards influencing national and international policy initiatives to create dementia-friendly communities that enable persons with dementia to lead active and engaged lives in the community.

Ronak Gupta

Ronak is a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics at UBC. He completed a B.E. (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering from BITS – Pilani, Goa and M.Sc. in Engineering Mechanics at JNCASR Bangalore. His research focuses on the dynamics of complex fluids and soft matter. Ronak is interested in using the tools of physics and mathematics to tackle problems in biology.


Ronak is passionate about teaching, scientific communication, and scientific outreach. During his undergraduate studies, Ronak was an active member of an initiative called Abhigyaan, where he taught underprivileged children and workers from slums around campus. He also volunteered in government schools in Bangalore, where he taught mathematics to children from low-income households. At JNCASR, he was part of a science outreach program called “Student Buddy” with which he organized lab tours and demonstrations for high school students from around Bangalore. Finally, Ronak has disseminated his research and knowledge through both media and peer-reviewed publications. He has been a freelance science writer with some of India’s leading publications and news outlets, including The Wire, DIGIT Magazine, and FactorDaily.

We would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Anil and Alka Garg, as well as Sharad and Samir Khare in honour of Susheela Devi Khare (“Dadi”) for their generous donations, which contributed to the second place award. 

Anupama A Sharan

Anupama is a Master of Applied Science (MASc) candidate and graduate research assistant in Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia. She has a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnological Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology in India. Along with conducting innovative research focused on adding value to waste from the pulp and paper industry using bacteria, she has also been actively involved with volunteer and community work. Her volunteer efforts in Canada have focused on scientific outreach through work with Let’s talk science and graduate student professional development by serving on graduate student councils at UBC. She also engages in outreach work stemming from her research to shape disruption in society towards waste management and valorisation.


In India, she volunteered with DRISTI – an NGO focused on bridging the development gap between rural and urban India. In recognition of her leadership, volunteer work, and academic achievements she was chosen as a 2013 Cargill Global Scholar from India and has since received other awards and fellowships at UBC.




Research Vision:;

Helina Jolly

Helina is a PhD student at the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability (RES) at the University of British Columbia. She will be working on gender perceptions and valuation of ecosystem services among the Adivasis (Indigenous communities of India) of Wayanad, Kerala, India. She is the recipient of various awards and honours, including the Olav Slaymaker Award and the Nehru Humanitarian Graduate Award. Helina is a Commonwealth Scholar and graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Kerala University (in Zoology) and the University of Delhi (in Environmental Biology) respectively.


She is also founder of the project ‘The Everyday Nature‘ which aims to understand the perceptions of people towards nature. Prior to joining RES, Helina worked in India with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ) (Link) as advisor to Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change, Government of India. At GIZ she supported The Economics of Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity India Initiative (Link). She also volunteers at her husband’s solar social enterprise, Boond (, which works to provide clean solar energy access to some of the poorest communities in India.



We would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Krishan and Pushpa Soni for their generous donation, which contributed to the second place award.

Atul Jaiswal

Atul Jaiswal is a doctoral candidate at School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen’s University, Canada. In India, he previously worked for five years as an Occupational Therapist, disability rehabilitation social worker, and Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) professional. He is a Tata Institute of Social Sciences gold medalist for his Masters of Social Work in Disabilities Studies and Action. He is a recipient of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship and currently pursuing his doctoral research at Queen’s University on deafblindness in India. Atul is dedicated to improving the lives of those facing disability and injustice in India. He has shown great persistence in pursuing projects that increase access to basic rights and resources for people with disability. He was instrumental in initiating a successful advocacy campaign (resulting in sanction of INR 15 million from Ministry of Railways, Government of India) to build a foot bridge at the Vangani railway station, which provided safety for 350 people with visual impairment who were previously risking their lives everyday. 

Kanksha Mahadevia Ghimire

Kanksha is an LLM (Master of Laws) student at the University of Toronto specializing in law and development. She has worked for 9 years with premier law firms in India and Vanuatu in the field of governance, regulation and corporate law. In Vanuatu she advised a statutory regulator, and taught at the University of South Pacific, School of Law. Throughout her career, she has been dedicated to volunteerism. She has provided pro bono legal services to a women’s rights organization in Nepal, advocating to change laws that perpetuate gender inequality. Similarly, she plans to utilise her legal expertise to advocate for Indigenous and South Asian women in Canada.