Ph.D Students Registered in 2019


Nishant Verma

At present, I am working as Deputy Inspector General of Forests, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Headquarters, New Delhi. I have a background on Aeropsapce Enginnering, forestry and wildlife management. My general interests include conservation of large carnivores including their landscape management,wildlife crime scenario at Global level. For my doctoral thesis I will be working upon Management of habitat, its connectivity and human-large carnivore conflict in Western Terai Arc Landscape (TAL).

Aamir Khan

I have an engineering background in Biotechnology (University of Mumbai); I always had passion for science and mathematics. In all those days of my engineering I used to sit in the last bench and spend time drawing weird designs of bioreactors, thinking about developing reactors which maximize photosynthetic rate of algae (never knew soon I will pursue wildlife!). A good habit of reading random articles on internet introduced me to the field of wildlife biology when I was in my third year of engineering. My fascination about the varied application of Biotechnology in different fields prompted me to choose wildlife as my further area of interest. Since then I started to read about different aspects of wildlife. I started to read about ecology, evolution, conservation biology, conservation physiology and of course my favorite subject animal behaviour. After my bachelors I decided to dwell into nature and devoted myself to do masters in Wildlife biology (A.V.C College TN). For myMasters dissertation I worked on Red pandas (cutest of all mammals!), understanding the drivers of welfare behaviour through behavioural sampling and physiological sampling (hormones) which has conservation implications in terms of future reintroduction programmes. The project was supported by Indian captive breeding centers for red pandas (Darjeeling, Gangtok and Nainital) and CCMB, Hyderabad. During my masters I also worked with Wildlife Conservation Society, Bangalore on a project dealing with acoustics of insectivorous bats. I volunteered for a summer research internship in Darjeeling zoo. Behavioural ecology is my primary interest but my broad interest lies in using interdisciplinary approaches in wildlife conservation. For my Ph.D. I will be working on northern swamp deer subspecies across Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Swamp deer is obligatory species of swampy land/grassland and hence the river Ganga is main lifeline for the subspecies in northern India. My study deals with distribution of swamp deer (specifically in Uttar Pradesh) as there are potential swamp deer inhabiting sites predicted by a prior study conducted in WII. Further I am going to understand habitat utilisation pattern of swamp deer using a combination of radio collaring and ecological sampling in such a human dominated landscape along Ganga. I hope to gain deeper insight into their behaviour and understand what strategies this enigmatic species is adopting for survival in such unforgiving landscape. Lastly, I am keen to see phylo-geography of the subspecies across their distribution range. I believe such an interdisciplinary approach will help us to understand the species biology in detail and take measures for their conservation, specifically outside protected areas. Apart from this I love travelling making new friends, sharing their culture and food, I do enjoy cooking and my favorite hobby to read and write Urdu poetries.

Jignasu Dolia

Originally from Gujarat, I was born and raised in Pondicherry. Since childhood, I harbored a great love for the outdoors, especially for animals. Whether it was watching birds in a nearby wetland, learning to groom and ride horses bareback in the countryside, jumping into wells for rescuing snakes, photographing butterflies, snorkeling at the Pondy jetty to explore the marine life, or just learning how to surf the waves for its sheer exhilaration, those were truly the golden years of my life! Honestly, I could not have asked for a better ambience for growing up.

After completing my Bachelors in Zoology in 2003, I pursued aMasters in Wildlife Biology and Conservation (2004-2006 brood), which was jointly run by the National Centre for Biological Sciences and the Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bangalore. It was a fantastic course, to say the least. I am deeply indebted to all those who were instrumental in setting it up, to the excellent faculty who taught us, and to my wonderful batch-mates, who made it a memorable two years. For my dissertation, I studied butterfly communities in a coffee-growing landscape in the Western Ghats.

In 2009, my love for snakes and the mountains drew me to explore the nesting ecology of King Cobras in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. For those who may not be aware, it is the only snake in the world that builds an aboveground nest for its eggs. Since then, I have been working as an independent researcher for almost eight years, trying to conserve this charismatic snake and its habitat. A key part of my work has also been to conduct snake-awareness programmes among local communities, mainly targeting children and young adults.

For my PhD, I would like to better understand key factors influencing the distribution and nest-site selection of this species in the subtropical forests of Uttarakhand, and to investigate the proximate advantages offered through nest-construction and guarding behaviour of this unique ophidian.

Main Research Interests: Behavioral ecology, community ecology, herpetology (mostly snakes)

Rukmini Shekar

For me, euphoria lies in the depths of the vast blue ocean. With aMasters degree in Marine Biology and an undying love for salt water and the sun, my career is bound to be in the ocean's lap. I have been working as a project fellow in the Wildlife Institute of Indias CAMPA- Dugong Recovery Project for over a year now. Apart from the conventional degrees, I have a Diploma in Biology from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, where I worked in an Evolutionary Biology Lab for three consecutive summers. My doctoral research work will focus on the ecology of seagrasses and food habits of the dugong, which I believe is crucial to make strategic and systematic conservation decisions for the declining dugong population. Community involvement and their knowledge will be an integral part of my work. My future research interests lie in studying Cetacean Evolution.

Pallabi Das


I pursed masters in Zoology with specialization in Ecology and Wildlife Biology from University of Calcutta. During my Master's days I have developed keen interest in Wildlife and Conservation, specifically I am interested in Evolution and Conservation biology, Ecosystem services, Eco-toxicology. For my Doctoral study I will be focusing on insect pollinators and their ecosystem services in an agro ecosystem. Currently I am working as an Assistant Professor in West Bengal. Before that I worked in Zoological Survey of India as Junior Research Fellow. Apart from academics I love to travel, reading, dancing and listening to music.


Niazul H. Khan

I was born and raised in Kargil, Ladakh. Huge mountains, breathtaking beauty and unutterable tranquillity in the region have instilled the deep love for nature since early days of my childhood. My interests towards wildlife first began from the Amchi (oldest medical tradition of the world) people of Ladakh. It is fascinating to know how the long inherited knowledge of medicinal plants are used to cure various ailments.

I did my graduation from Jammu University. I obtained a master’s degree from Nagpur University in Zoology. Gradually I have developed a passion to know more about the unique biodiversity the Trans-Himalayan region possess.

I have joined Wildlife Institute of India as a project fellow in NMHS project on human-wildlife conflict component. Currently I am working with the wildlife protection department, Jammu & Kashmir in the NMHS project on Biodiversity component. For my doctoral research I will be looking at the “Ecology of Himalayan Brown Bear in the Trans-Himalayan region, Ladakh”. My research interests lie in the ecology of meso-carnivores, mountain ecosystems and interactions between wildlife and the local community.  

Aksheeta Mahapatra

I want to do research that will enable me to decode the patterns in nature which can further contribute in solving environmental problems.

I completed my Masters in Wildlife Sciences from Amity University in 2018. The overall experience was interdisciplinary, and it taught me the importance of combining the scientific, economic, social, conservational, statistical and managerial aspects. MyMasters dissertation was on understanding impacts of urbanization on wetlands in Noida, Greater Noida region and its adjacent suburban areas.

My project involved the inventorisation of the wetlands of Gautam Budh Nagar district, analyzing land use/ land cover patterns of last 14 years using remote sensing GIS softwares and assessing its health quality by using birds, aquatic vegetation and macroinvertebrates as indicators of wetland ecosystem.
For my doctoral research, I am interested to understand the coloniality among breeding waterbirds. The study focuses on understanding of the population dynamics, breeding ecology, habitat use and movement pattern of colonial nesting waterbirds at Kokkare-Bellur Community Reserve, Southern Karnataka.

Apart from academics my interest lies in painting, photography, birding and watching movies.

Amarjeet Kaur


While struggling to write this bio from past one month.. finally I’m standing on my terrace, looking at the evening sky to give me the right really express who I am.

Born and raised up in a crowded metro Delhi, I always craved for a place where i can sit for endless hours looking at sky and talking with nature. Being clueless first, I decided to do my masters in Biodiversity and conservation from Indraprastha university which eventually shaped my career and took me to the place where i am standing now, amidst nature in Dehradun.

Curiously looking at the sky to unravel the answers my mind seek.. I decided to have my Ph.D. on one of the subjects i feel happy to look at, the birds. I am focusing on one of the common yet beautiful bird, the barn swallow, known as the harbinger of spring because of its migratory nature. I am trying to solve the unanswered questions on the species by understanding their distribution, breeding ecology and phylogeny in the Himalaya.

When life gets too hard I like to have a cup of coffee, do art (from anything to everything), curl up in bed with a good book to read, read and listen to Urdu poetry and listen to music.

Looking at the night sky with stars and moon and morning sky with clouds and birds is my definition of the perfect world.

Kumudani Bala Gautam

I have completed my Masters in Forensic Science from University of Delhi and am currently working in the Wildlife Forensics and Conservation Genetics Cell at Wildlife Institute of India. My curiosity to study the trade dynamics of wildlife in India drove me into changing the focus of my research from human forensics to wildlife forensics. I am presently working on the Bengal Monitor Lizard, focusing on its conservation genetics towards its illegal trade monitoring. I love to travel, ride my bike and sketch during my spare time.

Harshvardhan Singh Rathore

I am from Jaora, Madhya Pradesh popularly known as Sheron Ka Pradesh. From childhood, I developed an inclination towards animal life, a trait inherited from my family. I did my graduation in Forestry from D.S.B. Campus, Kumaun University, Nainital. I completed my post-graduation in Wildlife Science from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. I have always been passionate about studying large carnivores and thus for my M.Sc. dissertation, I looked at inter-specific competition between sympatric Tiger and Leopard in Rajaji National Park. Subsequently, I worked as a Senior Project Biologist in a ZSL-WII-UKFD collaborative project on Tiger conservation entitled "Supporting trans-boundary recovery in India and Nepal by extending activities in Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary, Uttarakhand". I currently work as a Junior Research Fellow at the Wildlife Institute of India. I hope to take my association with large carnivores further for my Ph.D. and would like to study aspects of demography and inter-specific competition between sympatric Tiger and Leopard in Similipal Tiger Reserve, Odisha. My academic interests are natural history, conservation biology, carnivore ecology, animal physiology, and evolutionary ecology.

Urjit Bhatt

I pursued my bachelors and masters in Environmental Science from the Maharaja Sayajirao University (M.S.U.) of Baroda. For my Masters dissertation, I studied butterfly diversity and their host specificity in an arboretum (medicinal plant garden) of M.S.U. campus. Later, I joined Wildlife Institute of India as a research biologist for the All India Tiger Monitoring Project in 2013. This opportunity helped me to gather unique experiences with local communities and park managers in different tiger reserves across the country. My areas of research interests are animal behavior, carnivore ecology, predator-prey interactions, and intra-guild competition. Currently, I am working as a junior research fellow in clouded leopard project. My doctoral research focuses on the habitat use and interactions among mammals of Manas National Park using camera-trapping and GIS as a tool. Apart from academics, I enjoy traveling, playing cricket, listening to music and watching movies.

Naitik Patel

I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Zoology from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Then, I joined Wildlife Institute of India as a research biologist in the All India Tiger Monitoring project in November 2013. As of now, I am associated with the DST-NMHSE project where I shall be looking at the effect of climate change on the herpetofauna diversity along the Himalayas. My research interests are the systematics and conservation of amphibians and reptiles, and to understand their ecological dimensions. I'll be studying systematics of cascade stream frogs in the Himalayas for my PhD work. Apart from exploring the wild with my team and photographing, I also look forward to encouraging young enthusiasts on nature trails! If I'm not on field collecting data, I usually enjoy outdoor sports or listen to music.  

Malyasri Bhattacharya

Attached to nature and environment since my childhood, I have developed a strong reverence for conservation biology and ornithology. My first exposure to the field was in Navegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve which gave me immense opportunity understanding bird communities and to draw their characteristics for identifying them. After completion of Masters in Zoology from the University of Calcutta in 2015, I joined Nature Conservation Foundation in their Hornbill Telemetry Project at Pakke Tiger Reserve. Afterwards, I joined SACON as a Project Biologist in the project to assess the impact of windmill sites in Karnataka. Later I became attached with the Wildlife Institute of India as a Project Biologist in the project on conservation of Black-necked Crane in Arunachal Pradesh. Behavioural dynamics, radio-telemetry and sensory biology of birds have always remained in the centre of my interest. An intrigued painter, I love to draw birds on different media from paper to fabrics.

For my doctoral study, I will be working upon understanding breeding and behavioural dynamics of selected species of Vultures from Himachal Pradesh. With advancement in my research, I will look forward for developing approaches to strategically involve tribal communities with bird conservation in North-Eastern India.

Goura Chandra Das

I pursued my Masters in Wildlife Science from North Orissa University, Odisha. Post M.Sc. I stepped forward to join Wildlife Institute of India in 2014, to further enhance my skills in understanding the ecological backdrop of ramifying living world. Since then I have been able to work in multiple fields of Wildlife conservation starting from estimating tiger numbers along with other co predators and assessment of their habitats in Corbett TR, Rajaji NP and Kanha NP. Followed by assessing linkages between socio-economic condition of local communities and ecological status of forest corridors of Rajaji-Corbett NP also I did an extensive literature survey to evaluate ecosystem services of Munnar Landscape. Now for the past three years I am working in NMCG-WII Biodiversity conservation and Ganga rejuvenation project. For my Doctoral research I am keen to work on the Spatio-temporal distribution, abundance and habitat use patterns of Gangetic River dolphin in the lower Ganga River, India. Beyond the academic arena, I have a special affinity towards photography, mountaineering, scuba diving and exploring new places.


Anindita Debnath

I have always found a sense of peace and belongingness with nature. It speaks in so many languages, looks so complex yet so simple at the same time. I was certain about pursuing a career in this field since my school days. I have done my bachelor’s in Environmental Science (honours) from University of Calcutta and Master’s from Doon University in Natural Resource Management. Subsequently I have joined Wildlife Institute of India and got opportunities to work on several biodiversity management projects. My research interests lie in understanding the landscape ecology, climate change consequences and changes in ecosystem functions/services.

For my doctoral research, I would be looking at the “Trends in Ecosystem Services in Darma-Byas Landscape, (Uttarakhand) due to land use alteration with respect to future climate change scenarios”.

Bitupan Boruah

I am from Assam. I completed my masters in Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation from North Orissa University, Odisha in 2015. Since my childhood, the immense natural beauty of my native place Kaziranga has been enticed me towards wildlife. I joined Wildlife Institute of India in 2016 as project biologist. My prime interest is systematics and natural history of lesser known fauna specially amphibians and reptiles. For my doctorate research I will be looking into the Systematics and Biogeography of Bush Frogs of Northeast India. Besides wildlife research my interests includes painting, acting and playing cricket.

Sameeha Pathan

Sameeha is a zoologist from the Maharaja Sayajirao university of Baroda in Gujarat. For her PhD, she is trying to understand the spatial ecology of seagrass meadows in the Gulf of Kachchh's offshore islands and reefs. Her fields of interest are marine mammal and herbivore ecology, island topography and comparative anatomy. She believes understanding patterns in seagrass distribution is key to assess the Dugongs small population downfall in the gulf area.

S.K. Zeeshan Ali

Amaze for nature attracted me to field of wilderness. I have completed M.Sc in Environmental Science from Burdwan University and Post Graduate Diploma in Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System from Indian Institute of Remote Sensing which lead me to a systematic ecological research in application of geospatial techniques to study ecological processes. I am working with Biodiversity Conservation and Ganga Rejuvenation project at Wildlife Institute of India at present. Spatial ecology is the area of my research interest. I like to study ecological processes in riverine habitat using geospatial modelling for my Ph.D. Apart from academics, I am passionate for travelling.

Chander P. Sharma

I pursued my Masters in Forensic Science from Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab. Working for the last 25 years in dealing with wildlife offense cases, I strive hard to blend skills gained in forensics for wildlife conservation. The professional areas of interest includes designing and organizing crime scene mock exercise, moot court room scenarios and providing Hands on Training (HoT) for identification of wildlife articles for diverse audiences from across enforcement agencies.

The focus of my Doctoral Research is to develop a baseline data for recent trends in illegal wildlife trade in India and to characterize seized wildlife articles by non-destructive morphological protocols for better detection and implementation of wildlife conservation acts.

N. Lakshminarayanan

I currently work as an Associate in the department of Endangered Species Management in Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun where my assignment entails research on elephants in Central India. Before joining WII, I worked as Senior Research Fellow with Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy and Learning (FERAL) on elephants and other large mammals in the Eastern Ghats. Prior to that I worked with Wildlife Conservation Society - India Program (WCS-India) in the Western Ghats. I have also been associated with ARULAGAM as technical consultant and worked on aspects related to conservation or Gyps vultures in South India. By training, I am a wildlife biologist and an alumnus of a joint post graduation program of WCS-India and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore. Broadly my interests center around research and conservation management of large mammal landscapes.

Aftab Usmani

I am from Farrukhabad, Uttar Pradesh and I have done myMasters in Wildlife Science from Aligarh Muslim University with a dissertation on the aspects of ecology of Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) in Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary.

I joined Wildlife Institute of India as a project biologist in All India Tiger Monitoring Project. Later I joined as a senior project biologist in the project "Management planning of Kusheshwar Asthan and Baraila Bird Sanctuary. At present, I am working as a Project Associate in the project “Biodiversity Conservation and Ganga Rejuvenation” funded by National Mission for Clean Ganga.

My Doctoral Research focuses on the ecology of waterbirds of the Middle Ganga River. Apart from academics my interests are reading and travelling.

Subhashree sahoo

With my bachelors in Zoology and masters in Forensic Science, venturing into Wildlife Forensic Research was a rather natural choice. I am currently working on population genetics of Star Tortoise in India with implications in illicit trade monitoring of the rampantly traded species. What keeps me engaged and driven is how seemingly routine molecular methods can answer rather intricate questions of an animal's biology. Leisurely, I take great pleasure in illustrating in ink and over-reading Robert Frost among other things.