PhD Programme in Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies

The ATREE doctoral programme in Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies is designed to impart training to research scholars, to develop and use integrated approaches in sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. The programme promotes interdisciplinary research and frameworks to integrate tools and approaches from the disciplines of ecology, economics, sociology, and climate science.

ATREE is a recognised centre of the doctoral programme of Manipal Academy for Higher Education (MAHE)—the institution that awards the PhD degree. 

In accordance with the requirements of ATREE and MAHE, students seeking admission should have:

  • a background in natural or social sciences
  • exhibit academic excellence

Typically ATREE accepts new PhD students in odd-numbered years and provides research contingencies and stipend support. In addition students who have (i) qualified for a Junior Research Fellowship under the UGC or the CSIR schemes or (ii) are working on a research project at ATREE can enroll in the doctoral programme. Students are encouraged to check the ‘Research’ tab of the ATREE Jobs webpage to check for project-funded PhD opportunities at ATREE.  

Students admitted to the programme will work under the personal mentorship of an ATREE faculty member and will also be guided by a doctoral committee of 3-5 members. The committee will consist of ATREE faculty members and external scientists and will include representation of expertise from different disciplines

Doctoral training begins with rigorous coursework that is expected to take a year to complete. This will include a set of mandatory courses and a choice of electives. We have designed foundation courses in the natural and social sciences to introduce students to main concepts in both these disciplines, since students will have a background in one of these. 

  • Foundations in Natural Sciences - Ecology
  • Foundations in Natural Sciences - Environmental Science 
  • Foundations in Social Sciences - Economics
  • Foundations in Social  Sciences - Sociology

The foundational coursework in the natural sciences covers ecological concepts, ecosystem processes and species interactions, environmental processes and challenges, sustainability science and biodiversity conservation. The foundational coursework in the social sciences covers the basic principles of economics and sociology and focuses on classical and contemporary economic and sociological theory, and expanding into ecological economics and environmental sociology. 

The foundational coursework is supplemented by a novel course that introduces and encourages students to inculcate an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to address the persistent challenges of biodiversity decline, climate change, land degradation and natural resource governance. Beginning with a multidisciplinary approach, this novel course moves on to discussing integrated approaches that draws upon theoretical ideas and comparative analyses of case studies from across the world. Mandatory coursework concludes with the tools of conducting research in the natural and social sciences and the ethics and practice of disseminating science, through a series of research methods courses.

  • Practising Interdisciplinary Research on the Environment
  • Research Design and Methods ‐ Social Sciences
  • Research Design and Methods ‐ Natural Sciences
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Scientific Writing
  • Research and Publication Ethics
Nachiket Kelkar's picture

Nachiket Kelkar

Date of award: 26 May 2021
Current Affiliation:
Wildlife Conservation Trust
Ovee Thorat's picture

Ovee Thorat

Date of award: 05 Aug 2020
Current Affiliation:
Postdoctoral Fellow, Environmental Studies, Krea University
Paramesh Gowda's picture

Paramesh Gowda

Date of award: 28 Oct 2015
Current Affiliation:
Assistant Professor, Botany, St. Joseph's College
Priti Gururaj's picture

Priti Gururaj

Date of award: 30 Apr 2018
Current Affiliation:
DST-INSPIRE Faculty at Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES), IISc
Radhika Kanade's picture

Radhika Kanade

Date of award: 16 Sep 2019
Current Affiliation:
Rahul Muralidharan's picture

Rahul Muralidharan

Date of award: 13 Apr 2022
Current Affiliation:
PhD Candidate
Ravi Ramalingam's picture

Ravi Ramalingam

Date of award: 06 Jan 2014
Current Affiliation:
Independent consultant
Ronita Mukherjee's picture

Ronita Mukherjee

Date of award: 19 Jun 2020
Current Affiliation:
Post Doctoral fellow, ATREE


The ATREE Academy invites applications for a doctoral research fellowship in Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies. The programme is recognised by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) and is one of the few programmes in India that provides students interdisciplinary training in the natural sciences and social sciences to conduct research and practice on biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

Students with prior training in the civil/biotechnology/environmental/chemical branch of the engineering (preferred) or environmental/chemical/ biochemistry science graduates are eligible to apply. Selected students will undergo coursework for three semesters, after which they will conduct independent research on the topics listed above. The students will receive a monthly fellowship of Rs 31,000 (pre-registration) and Rs.35,000 (post-registration) for a period of three years. Contingency support for research at Rs. 50,000 per year for two years will also be provided. ATREE fosters diversity and gender equity at the workplace; women and persons from underprivileged groups are especially encouraged to apply. The Academy will follow ATREE’s affirmative action policy during the PhD selection process.

Admission and Eligibility

  1. The candidate must have a Master’s degree in any engineering discipline (preferred), natural science or related discipline and have secured a minimum of 70% or equivalent.
  2. Applicants will appear for an entrance exam on June 15, 2022 followed by an interview the next day.
  3. Candidates who have qualified for UGC-CSIR (minimum NET), GATE, ICSSR or equivalent exams, or have an MPhil degree are not required to take the entrance exam and will directly qualify for the interview.

Application Process

Candidates seeking admission for the PhD programme at ATREE should submit the following documents:

  • Updated CV
  • A completed application form
  • A statement of purpose in the applicant’s own words that highlights her/his interest in the proposed research and broader research and career goals (maximum 1000 words).
  • Confidential reference letters from two referees, sent directly by the referees to the address below by email or post.

Applicants should submit completed applications and all supporting documents by email to or post to the address listed below by June 06, 2022. Candidates submitting their applications by email should indicate ‘Application for NbS PhD Fellowship’ in the subject line of the email; those submitting their applications by post should superscribe the envelope. Incomplete applications will be rejected.

Contact information:

Academy for Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies,
Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE),
Royal Enclave, Srirampura, Jakkur, Bangalore 560 064
Email:   Phone: +91-80-23635555 Extn: 121

Addressing water-related risks in rapidly urbanising catchments

PhD Supervisor: Priyanka Jamwal

Nature-based solutions (NbS) are green infrastructures that mimics natural processes to address risks related to climate change, water security, and public health. Several studies and focused research have reported various benefits of NbS across levels: local, national and global. However, despite all benefits, a recent study by IUCN reported that out of the total funds for infrastructure development, less than 1% is spent towards supporting green infrastructure, including NbS. Lack of evidence on the effectiveness of NbS as compared to grey infrastructure, timescales for effective operations, cost-effectiveness at scale, lack of policies for implementation and lack of standards to assess the benefits are some of the main barriers/constraints towards scaling up of NbS.

Bangalore –one of the largest cities in India is facing significant water quantity and quality issues for the last two decades. The lack of wastewater treatment infrastructure allows the discharge of large quantities of wastewater into open stormwater drains and lakes. Studies report that in addition to providing cost-effective treatment NbS also helps in overcoming the ‘yuck’ factor associated with the use of treated effluents for non-potable purposes. Here we propose a holistic solution to promote a circular water economy by deploying NbS to treat greywater from specific sources like food canteens housed in large institutions.

Government-funded and private research institutions contribute significantly to wastewater generation in the city. Besides, large quantities of freshwater are used for landscaping and non-potable purposes. Presently, around 100 government and private institutions within the Bangalore urban area have varying wastewater treatment and disposal practices. The wastewater from these institutions is directly discharged into the sewerage system managed by BWSSB. According to an estimate, the food canteens in these institutions consume 20% of the total water supply. The quality of greywater from such spaces has low contaminant levels that can be managed by deploying simple, low-cost interventions. To design effective NbS interventions, in addition to optimising treatment processes, there is a critical need to understand the drivers and perceptions behind these institution-level wastewater practices.