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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Academic Staff

Haripriya Rangan Director of Research & Academic Programmes

Dr Haripriya Rangan trained in architecture and urban planning in India and holds a doctoral degree from the University of California-Los Angeles in urban and regional development. Haripriya has over 20 years of research and teaching experience in universities in the USA and Australia.

Dr Rangan has an international research reputation in the field of political ecology and a strong record in research funding and publication. Her research on forestry and regional development in the Indian Himalayas is considered highly influential and widely cited by political ecologists and scholars working on environmental movements in South Asia. She has won several national competitive research grants, including one from the US National Science Foundation and three ARC Discovery grants. Haripriya’s current research centres on natural resource and landscape management in South Africa, India and Australia, and environmental history of the Indian Ocean World. 

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Brigid Freeman has a Master of Education Policy (International) from The University of Melbourne and was Research Fellow for an ARC funded project (‘The Humanities in Asia’) with the Australian Academy of the Humanities (AAH) prior to joining the Aii.

Previously, Brigid worked at the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE) and Education Policy and Leadership Unit in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE), on research sponsored through the ARC and Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) for Australia’s Chief Scientist. Brigid was a Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) at the University of California, Berkeley and American Council of Education (ACE) Centre for Policy and Strategy in Washington DC. During this period as a visiting scholar Brigid led an international research project regarding institutional policy. 'The Age of STEM: Educational Policy and Practice in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Across the World' (eds., Freeman, Marginson and Tytler) was recently published. 
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Dr Amanda Gilbertson is an anthropologist with research interests in youth, education, class and gender in urban India. She has a DPhil from the University of Oxford, was a McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Melbourne, and is a recipient of an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (2019-2022).

Her research has explored what it means to be middle-class in Hyderabad, contemporary feminist politics in Delhi, representations of violence against women in Indian newspapers, and the reproduction of inequality in Indian schools.
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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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Simon Papagiorcopulo Media & Communications Adviser

Simon serves as the Institute's principal media and communications adviser. A lawyer by training, Simon has extensive media experience, including stints with Al Jazeera English in Qatar and the Institute for Regional Security in Canberra. He has since gone on to found geopolitical analysis startup Foreign Brief, where he serves as the Managing Director.

Simon is deeply passionate about deciphering and communicating developments in the political, trade and security spheres for a broad audience. Simon holds a BA in International Relations and an LLB from the Australian National University.
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Marianna Sarris Projects & Operations Officer

Marianna Sarris is Operations and Project Officer at the Australia India Institute. Marianna got her BA in International Business Administration at the American University in Paris. She has over 15 years experience in bilateral/international trade and projects working for the Canadian Government in the European Union and has also worked in office management, events and communications in non-profit organisations.

Born in Canada, Marianna has lived in Canada, Italy, Lebanon, Greece and France.
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Simone Traglia Events & Programs Adviser

Simone has extensive experience in the events, administration and projects areas, managing the Institute’s varied calendar of events for the past five years. The diverse range of activities hosted by the Institute has allowed her to work across sectors, including business, government, not-for-profit and the education sectors. As well as running the Institute’s annual calendar of events, Simone also coordinates the Institute’s flagship program, the Australia India Leadership Dialogue.

Prior to joining the Australia India Institute, Simone worked on the University of Melbourne’s biannual conference –The Festival of Ideas.

Simone graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communications.

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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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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

Dr Alex Davis is from Hobart, Australia, where he studied history and international relations at the University of Tasmania. He became particularly interested in colonial history and its effects on contemporary politics, especially in India. He moved to the University of Adelaide to pursue a PhD, studying India’s relationship with the English-speaking world. After completing, he worked at the University of Johannesburg, studying the colonial foundations of the discipline of international Relations across India and the ‘Old Commonwealth’. With La Trobe University and the Australia-India Institute, he is focused on viewing Indian foreign policy through its states, viewing them as international political spaces with unique histories, identities and perspectives on international affairs.

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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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