Professor Craig Jeffrey is Director and CEO of the Australia India Institute, Australia’s premier centre for the study of India.

A leading authority on South Asian youth, Craig has spent over two decades working in western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. He also writes on Indian democracy, educational transformation, and globalisation and has authored six books, including Timepass: Youth, Class and the Politics of Waiting in IndiaKeywords for Modern India, and A Very Short Introduction to Modern India. Professor Jeffrey's work has informed the policy of governments and global organisations including the United Nations, World Bank, UK Department of International Development, and the Australian Government

In 2015, Craig launched the New Generation Network, a ground-breaking network of postdoctoral fellows researching aspects of contemporary India across Australia.

Craig is Professor of Geography at the University of Melbourne and was previously Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford and Official Fellow of St. John's College, Oxford. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and the Australian Academy of Social Sciences.

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Professional Staff

Dr Karen Barker Executive Manager & Senior Adviser Engagement
Dr Karen Barker is an experienced senior administrator with over 10 years in university management and governance, international strategy and engagement. A highly successful communicator with outstanding analytical and research skills, Karen has a professional background as a government solicitor with expertise in contract negotiation and drafting. Karen also has extensive experience in developing strategies that meet business objectives and has successfully led the planning and operational management for a divisional budget exceeding $47 million.
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Tess Gross Executive Assistant to the Director
Tess Gross is Executive Assistant to the Director. She originally trained as a secondary school teacher in History and English but has spent most of her working career in tertiary institutions including both Melbourne and Monash Universities. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) with a major in History and a Graduate Diploma in Education and has nearly two decades of administrative and teaching experience. Tess has a connection to India stemming from a childhood in Fiji where Fiji-Indians were the backbone of the sugar industry, and expat workers like her father spoke Hindustani in the normal course of their day.
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Deepu Narayan Budget & Financial Adviser
Deepu Narayan joined the Aii in 2016 as the Budget and Financial Adviser. He is a Certified Practising Accountant (Australia), a Chartered Accountant (India) and also holds a Bachelors Degree in Commerce and Accounting from Mahatma Gandhi University.

Deepu previously served as a senior financial professional in various industries in the Middle East and has more than 16 years experience in financial accounting and reporting.

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Dilpreet Kaur Taggar Media & Communications Adviser
Dilpreet serves as the Institute's principal media and communications adviser. Born and raised in India, she is a Master in Journalism graduate from the University of Melbourne. A former intern with the likes of ABC News, The Conversation and Al Jazeera, Dilpreet has extensive experience in writing and creating films and podcasts. She was the winner of 2018 Ossie Awards for Student Jounralism for Best Audio Story called "Brown & Happy" on the issue of skin lightening and whitening products. Dilpreet has immense interest in politics, gender studies and race conversations. She likes to talk about gender and racial bias through dramatics and writing.
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Marianna Sarris Projects & Partnerships Adviser
Marianna Sarris is Projects and Partnerships Adviser at the Australia India Institute since August 2013. The role is responsible for planning and coordinating the execution and reporting of the Institute’s milestones and deliverables to funding and sponsorship bodies, including for specific projects and related programmes. The role also supports the Operations of the Institute including Administrative, Finance and HR functions. Marianna studied International Business Administration at the American University in Paris. She has over 20 years of experience in bilateral/international relations and trade, including in her role as Trade Commissioner for the Canadian  Government in the EU at the Canadian Embassy in Athens, Greece.

Born in Canada, Marianna has lived or worked in Canada, Italy, Lebanon, Greece and France, and relocated to Australia and Melbourne in 2007.  In the past 6+ years she has had the privilege of visiting India three times.  Marianna also serves on the Victorian Committee of the Australia India Business Council and is the Coordinator of the Australia India Leadership Dialogue.

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Charlotte Hart Events Coordinator
Charlotte has extensive experience in events, administration and project management, she is currently managing the Institute’s varied calendar of events. She is a professional Events Coordinator with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Event Management with several years’ experience managing a variety of events end-to-end. These have included conferences, dinners, exhibitions, expos, awards ceremonies and corporate events. In 2015 she was awarded a Young Professional Scholarship at the Meetings and Events Australia Awards. Her previous experience includes positions managing events at the University of Edinburgh Business School, Victoria University, State Library Victoria and has been the Senior Events Coordinator for Graysons Venues at the British Library.

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Senior Research Advisers

Raghu Rama Swamy Senior Research Adviser (Infrastructure)

Dr Raghu Rama Swamy is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne. Raghu’s research focusses on infrastructure development and finance, public-private partnerships, property finance, and managing transformation of cities. Raghu holds a PhD in Built Environment, MBA in Marketing and Finance and Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering.

Previously, as the Professor and Director at RICS School of Built Environment, Raghu had set up the School of Infrastructure and designed the MBA program in Infrastructure Management. Prior to that, he was the CEO of Infrastructure Development Corporation (Karnataka) Limited, a joint venture of Government of Karnataka, IDFC and HDFC.  With nearly 24 years of experience, Raghu had partnered with various government, multi-lateral agencies (including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, International Finance Corporation, GIZ, UN Habitat), international development organizations (IDFC Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), academic institutions, policy thinktanks and private sector clients in the urban infrastructure (water supply, sanitation, solid waste management), property and housing, integrated transportation, tourism, energy, commercial and industrial infrastructure sectors. Raghu had authored numerous policy documents and research reports. He was a member of many committees and taskforces in India in the infrastructure sector, is an invited speaker at numerous professional and industry conferences and conducts training courses on public private partnerships and infrastructure development.

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Nathan Grills Senior Research Adviser (Health)
Associate Professor Nathan Grill’s involvement in global health spans 20 years. He began his tertiary studies through the Australian Defence Force Academy before transferring to Monash University to complete his medical studies. He obtained an MPH and a DPhil (Public Health) from Oxford University under a Rhodes Scholarship and is a Fellow of the UK and Australian Faculties of Public Health

In 2014, Nathan completed a Professional Doctorate in Public Health at Monash University using social network analysis to measure the impact of public health partnerships.

He is involved in public health training, research and advocacy. Nathan’s research expertise is in the areas of non-communicable diseases, disability inclusion, community health evaluation/monitoring, primary health care systems and understanding faith-based development agencies and programs.

Nathan has worked extensively in India, including leading a tobacco control research collaboration to develop tobacco control interventions. In the disability field in India, he led the implementation of the RAD disability measurement tool. He has developed partnerships with leading Indian institutions such as the Public Health Foundation of India, CMC Vellore, Catholic Health Association of India and EHA.

Nathan has worked in international health and development in Africa, Fiji, East Timor, PNG, Bangladesh and Nepal. He has supervised more than 40 students and volunteers through his research programs and established five health and development-focused NGOs. He has served on the board of four health charities.

He currently focuses on India where he works on disability, primary health care systems and non-communicable diseases.

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Jyoti Rao Senior Research Associate (Equity)
Jyoti Rao is a Lecturer in Property at the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne.

Issues related to housing and land economics are of prime interest to Jyoti and most of her publications are in related fields. Her major publications include five books namely - Functionings of Land (2018); Delhi's Changing Built Environment (2017); Development Paradigms for Urban Housing in BRICS Countries (2016); and India's Reluctant Urbanization (2015). Jyoti is professionally trained as an architect; urban planner; and real estate professional which compliments her works in these areas.

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Dr Dolly Kikon Senior Research Associate (Governance)
Dolly Kikon is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Social and Political Science, The University of Melbourne. She received her doctoral degree in Anthropology from Stanford University (2013). Before embarking on her academic career, she completed her bachelor degree in law from University of Delhi and practised in the Supreme Court of India (New Delhi) and the Guwahati High Court focusing on human rights and constitutional provisions relating to tribal communities in Northeast India. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University from 2013-2015. She has worked for over twenty years on the experiences of militarization, state violence, land rights, extractive regimes, developmental issues, and gender justice in India. She has written widely on subjects relating to governance, environmental justice, political economy, citizenship, human rights, indigenous movements, resource conflicts, and social movements. Her commentaries and opinion pieces have appeared in The Hindu, The Times of India, Indian Express, Scroll, RIAOT, Open Democracy, The Morung Express, Himal South Asia, Asian Currents, and Anthropology News.

Her published books include Living with Oil and Coal: Resource Politics & Militarization in Northeast India (University of Washington Press 2019 and Yoda Press India, 2020); Leaving the Land: Indigenous Migration and Affective Labour in India (co-author Bengt G. Karlsson) (Cambridge University Press India, 2019); Life and Dignity; Women’s testimonies of Sexual Violence in Dimapur (Nagaland) (NESRC 2015), Experiences of Naga Women in Armed Conflict: Narratives from a Militarised Society (WISCOMP 2004). Besides that, she has contributed numerous articles to international peer reviewed journals.

Her current research focuses on cultures of fermentation in the Himalayan region including India. As part of her fermented food project, she has made a documentary titled "Seasons of Life: Foraging and fermenting bambooshoot during ceasefire" (2020). She suspects her next project might be on human-animal relationships in Manas National Park (Assam). Why? Because she finished a pilot anthropological fieldwork inside the part and fell in love with the elephants.

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New Generation Network

Research Project: An exploration of incubators and funders in the clean technology space in India

Host University: University of Melbourne

Dr Jonathan Balls is a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at the School of Geography. He is an economic and development geographer, and his research interests are focused on clean energy markets in India, sustainable development, bottom of the pyramid capitalism, frugal innovation and entrepreneurship, and electricity market governance in India. Jonathan’s doctoral research looked at the developing market for small, off-grid solar power products in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, as a lens through which to explore bottom of the pyramid capitalism. Jonathan completed his PhD at the University of Oxford. He holds a Masters in environmental policy from the University of Oxford, and a BA in Geography from the University of Cambridge.

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Dr Subrato Banerjee

Research Project: Who discriminates? A study on the determinants of ingrained discrimination

Host: Queensland University of Technology

Dr Subrato Banerjee received his PhD from the Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India for his thesis titled 'Essays on Economic Behaviour and Regulation'. His research interests include behavioural economics, game theory, econometrics and microeconomics. Most of his current research is about understanding systematic deviations from the predictions of economic theory and encompasses the development of econometric and statistical techniques to study the same. He also follows research in psychology, astrophysics, evolutionary biology, and neuroscience. He is also a columnist with two Indian newspapers – the Financial Express and the Indian Express and also maintains a blog on his profile webpage at the American Statistical Association.

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Research Project: Indian states as international political spaces


Host: La Trobe University

Currently based at La Trobe University, Dr Alexander E Davis has a PhD in international studies from the University of Adelaide and an MA in history from the University of Tasmania.  He has previously worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Johannesburg. His research looks at international relations from a postcolonial and historical perspective, often focused on India. He is the author of India and the Anglosphere: Race, Identity and Hierarchy in International Relations. His current major projects look at the Indian Ocean and the Himalaya.

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Research Project: Innovative pathways to transform waste plastics into sustainable and high value products

Host: University of New South Wales

Dr Vaibhav Gaikwad is a New Generation Network scholar at the SMaRT centre, University of New South Wales. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering and his research focuses on the development of innovative processes to transform waste plastics from various sources, including electronics and automotive into sustainable and value added products such as carbon agglomerates or replacing coke and coal in metallurgical industries, 3D printing filaments and high performance composites. Dr Gaikwad has published several papers in reputed international journals and was awarded the highly competitive AII-NGN fellowship in 2015. He is an alumnus of the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai and is actively engaged in collaborative research with Australian, Indian and other global industries and universities.

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Dr Amy Piedalue

Research Project: Everyday negotiations of difference in Hyderabad: the ‘quiet’ politics of survival in precarious economic situations

Host: University of Melbourne

Dr Amy Piedalue is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australia India Institute, University of Melbourne. As a feminist geographer, Amy is interested in critical development studies, relational poverty and regional modernities; structural inequalities and social movements; and geopolitics, counter-terrorism and Islamophobia. In particular, her work draws upon postcolonial and critical race feminisms to investigate the complex inequalities and social justice possibilities that shape activism responding to gendered violence in subaltern communities. Amy’s PhD research explored gender violence and everyday social change in contemporary India and South Asian diasporas through the lens of grassroots women’s collectives.

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Dr Geoff Schoenberg

Research Project: Transforming sport in India: A legitimacy approach to understanding and improving governance

Host: Deakin University

A specialist in sport governance, Dr Geoff Schoenberg is a research fellow at Deakin University and the Australia India Institute at the University of Melbourne. Originally from Calgary, Canada, Geoff moved to Australia in 2009 to do a Masters by Research at Deakin University followed by a PhD at Griffith University. Geoff focuses on the behavioural and social aspects of governance by examining how behaviours and group dynamics influence governance processes and outcomes. For his postdoctoral research, Geoff is working with Indian sport organisations to design reforms based on a participatory action research process. The use of a collaborative process provides industry relevant results while developing insight into the facilitators and barriers to governance reform.

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Research Project: The New Basis of Citizenship: Privacy, Biopolitics and their Aadhar (foundation) in Contemporary India

Host: Deakin University

Dr Pawan Singh is a New Generation Network (NGN) Scholar in contemporary history at Deakin University and the Australia-India Institute (AII) at the University of Melbourne. He has a PhD in media and communication studies from the University of California San Diego. In his doctoral work, Pawan examined the postcolonial rights discourse around gender and sexual identities in India within the global human rights legal framework. His publications include articles on colonial sodomy laws, health, postcolonial feminism and film and media in journals like Feminist Media StudiesJournal of Bioethical Inquiryand South Asian Popular Culture. As an NGN scholar, he aims to extend his ongoing research focus on privacy jurisprudence and Indian Constitution to consider issues of citizenship, biopolitics and governmentality through government initiatives such as Aadhar as well as contemporary debates about nationalism, sedition and public speech. Pawan’s teaching areas include film and media studies, postcolonial studies, gender and sexuality, bodies and health and popular culture. During his time at the AII, Pawan also aims to develop a critical area studies framework in the broader Asia-Pacific region within which to consider the history of social and cultural exchange between India and Australia.

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Research Project: How do livelihood pathways and local food environments shape the uptake of high-quality diets in rural India?

Host: University of Sydney

Dr Mark Vicol is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the School of Geosciences at the University of Sydney. He was awarded his PhD in human geography at the University of Sydney in 2016, for a thesis that explores the implications of contract farming for rural livelihoods and agrarian change in Maharashtra, India. Mark’s research focuses on the changing relationships between land, agriculture and rural livelihoods in South and Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on food and nutrition security. Since completing his PhD, he has been involved in research projects in Myanmar and Indonesia. He has published articles in journals including Geoforum and the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, as well as media articles for the New Mandala. Mark is currently developing a research project to understand the impacts of local institutional and livelihood contexts on the uptake of high-quality diets in India, with a particular focus on the role of the Public Distribution System (PDS). 

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Research Project: Planning the sustainable and resilient ‘smart cities’ in India: An evidence-based approach to local climate change mitigation and possible impacts

Host University: University of New South Wales

Dr Komali Yenneti is a New Generation Network Scholar based at the Faculty of Built Environment, University of New South Wales (UNSW). She is a trained Architect and Environmental Planner, and has a PhD in Geography and Environmental Sciences from the University of Birmingham. Her research focuses on contemporary environmental policy and projects, such as low-carbon development, urban vulnerability and resilience, and energy transitions across cities, regions and communities with particular emphasis on empirical studies grounded in social justice, political economy, development, and spatial planning. She has published articles on social justice, poverty and inequality, social vulnerability, energy and urban sustainability in journals like Geoforum, Journal of Rural Studies, Energy Policy, Geographical Review and Habitat International. She was a recipient of research grants from international organisations, including the Midlands Energy Graduate School, Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) Germany, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Natural Science Foundation of China and Chinese Academy of Sciences, and is the founding chair of International Geographical Union’s (IGU’s) Young and Early-Career Geographers Task Force. At UNSW, she is focusing on an evidence-based approach to urban heat mitigation in low-income communities of India.

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Dr Jeff Redding

Research Project: Non-state Muslim courts in India; transgender rights in South Asia.

Host: University of Melbourne

Dr Jeff Redding is a New Generation Network Scholar at the Australia India Institute and a Senior Research Fellow at the Melbourne Law School. Jeff’s research interests are in the areas of comparative law and religion, Islamic law, legal pluralism, family law, and law & sexuality. He earned his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. While with the Aii and the Melbourne Law School, Jeff will further his study of a network of non-state Muslim courts in India and the relationship of the Indian state with these Muslim courts, and also transgender rights in South Asia. You can find Dr Redding's scholarship here.

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Tanya Spisbah Director
Tanya is a renowned and influential expert on Australia-India relations, particularly with respect to health and sustainable development.

A career diplomat with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for more than a decade, Tanya served from 2014-17 at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi, specialising in health and technology diplomacy for inclusive, sustainable growth. She notably led the health agenda resulting in the Australian and Indian Prime Ministers exchanging an MoU for Health and Medicine, paving the way for cooperation on digital health.

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Kunal Kapoor Finance Manager
Kunal is the Finance Manager at Aii@Delhi.

Kunal completed his Graduation in Finance from Delhi University and is a Qualified Chartered Accountant from ICAI. He worked in multi-national organisations for five years prior to joining Aii Delhi. 

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Muskan Jain Research and Projects Officer
Muskan is the office executive at Aii@Delhi and serves as the executive assistant to the CEO. She is responsible for office management, calendaring, editing and client correspondence. Muskan received her B.Sc (Hons) of Statistics in 2013 from Lady Shri Ram College at the University of Delhi, where she later earned her M.Sc of Statistics.
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Rishi Suri Communications Consultant
Rishi is the Communications Consultant at Aii@Delhi. He is a senior journalist and one of the select few certified diplomatic correspondents by the Minister of External Affairs in India. Risi is an alumnus of the International Visitor Leadership program run by the US State Department and has been a Fellow with the Austalia India Council and a Chevening Scholar in 2013. Rishi also serves on the board of various organisations, including the Australia India Youth Dialogue, the Global Partnerships Program in Florida an, the Taj Colloquium in Uttar Pradesh and the Kumaon Literary Festival in Uttarakhand.
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Parul Nadar Research and Project Officer


Parul Nadar is the Research and Project Officer at Aii@Delhi. Parul is a PhD scholar of International Relations at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. She completed her Masters in Philosophy in Diplomacy and Disarmament from JNU and has keen interest in world politics, diplomacy, security studies and foreign affairs. Parul graduated in Economics (Hons) from SRCC and has a master’s degree in Politics with a specialization in International Relations from JNU. She has worked with the Chaophraya Dialogue as a Research Associate. The Chaophraya Dialogue is a track two initiative between India and Pakistan. She also worked with the UNDP as a Research Assistant on Project Disha that aimed at empowering girls through education and skill training.

Parul has worked with Child Rights and You as an Intern for the Policy and Advocacy Team and has also volunteered for Make a Difference where she taught underprivileged school kids. She was also awarded the Gandhi Fellowship by the Piramal School of leadership.

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