Femeena PANDARA VALAPPIL, MS in Water Resources Engineering (India)

Femeena holds a Master’s degree in Water Resources Engineering and is currently enrolled as a PhD student at Purdue University in the United States. With her research she tries to change the traditional way of approaching water resource management.

Current position: PhD Student at Purdue University, USA

Research focus: In-stream water quality modeling

Femeena developed a modeling framework to determine environmentally and economically sustainable cropping patterns to achieve food and biofuel production targets while minimizing water pollution.

Femeena was awarded a Green Talent in 2014 due to her ideas, which have the potential to be implemented on a large scale to eradicate food security issues while also protecting the environment. Her research stay with Dr. Fohrer at the University of Kiel, Germany, proved to be very beneficial for her career. Dr. Fohrer is part of her PhD research committee and invited her back to Kiel for data collection in 2016.

2016 Ethics Video Competition award by American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
2014 BERKNER Fellowship by American Geophysical Union

CV as submitted for the Green Talents award (2014):


Research focus: Spatial optimization of cropping pattern for food and biofuel production with minimum downstream pollution

Eradicating food security issues while protecting the environment has been the cornerstone of Femeena’s promising research work and her long term ambition. With her specialised knowledge, she hopes to make a change in food security on an environmental and economical level.

Changing the traditional way of approaching water resource management is Femeena’s driving force. Her Master’s thesis in Water Resources Engineering is a multi-disciplinary work that involves water pollution, food security and economics.

Increasing fuel demands over the years has led to the emergence of biomass as a major renewable energy source in many countries. It has subsequently set off changes in cropping practices, leading to an excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides, resulting in a deterioration of water quality. Femeena’s research focused on tackling this challenge. She introduced an environmentally and economically sustainable cropping pattern which would achieve food and biofuel production targets while minimising water pollution.

This tool can be used effectively in agricultural practices while taking into account economic and environmental sustainability, biofuel production and food security constraints. Femeena’s Master’s thesis sheds a new and highly promising light on an often overlooked part of agriculture. Moreover, her ideas have them potential to be implemented on a large scale in her home country, India.

“As a whole, this strategy will help create an environmental-friendly and healthy ecosystem, for present and future generations”, said Femeena. After she was awarded the prestigious BERKNER Fellowship from the American Geophysical Union (AGU), she joined WS Atkins Global, one of the leading engineering consulting firms in India. Presently, she is working as a consultant for the research program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, hosted by the renowned International Water Management Institute (India).

The jury was impressed by Femeena’s resourcefulness in solving a complex agriculture problem through truly scientific and interdisciplinary means.