Padma Seetharaman

Padma Seetharaman

I am currently a Principal Scientist at CSIR-Central Road Research Institute, Delhi. In this role I am responsible for identifying the research objectives in line with the vision set by the Government of India. I am also responsible for gathering the funding towards carrying out the research as well as overseeing that the research objectives are fulfilled and results disseminated. I am also responsible towards taking active participation in the formulation of policy level initiatives set up by the government for improvement of transport sector. As an honorary initiative it is required that I participate in the formulation of various standards and guidelines outlined for practicing engineers in the field of transportation.

I joined my current job as a ME graduate with no prior experience of writing research proposals, or formulation of research objectives. Through the course of my job I realized that research involves dedicated vision and focused identification of problem objectives. I realized the importance of doing a PhD in order to enhance my analytical, as well as reasoning skills while at the job. ITS helped me with honing my skills towards identifying the ‘gap’ in the existing research, thus enabling me to do focused research. It taught me time management and also provided me with opportunities to meet and interact with the pioneers in my field of research. ITS has taught me to be independent in the thinking and decision making process involved in the research, it has taught me to rear my PhD from its infancy to adulthood single-handedly with able guidance from my supervisors. These teachings have greatly helped me in my career growth back home as is evident from the successful completion of several projects I have undertaken from the time of completion of my PhD.

I had been thinking of doing a PhD whilst working as a scientist at CSIR-Central Road Research Institute. Being a transport planner and having a passion towards public transport narrowed my search to universities offering me opportunities to explore the same. Upon a search on the internet, University of Leeds featured as one of the top ranking universities. ITS is a renowned institute with several of my senior colleagues at the job having been an ITS alumnus. ITS, was then my obvious choice given its reputation of being one of the best institutes in the field of transportation.

My advice to students interested in doing a PhD would be that a PhD is a dedicated effort and should be done only if you have the passion for the same. Students shouldn’t come into PhD assuming that the problem statement as well as their PhD will be streamlined and spoon-fed to them by the supervisors. A career in transport is a very fulfilling experience as it is multidisciplinary. It requires an understanding of not only the mathematical principles but also finds its overlap in psychological streams.

The highlight of my career so far after my PhD would be successful completion of several projects of national and societal importance. The projects handled by me so far have had a diversified range, including studies involving the route choice of passengers in the presence of countdown information system, impact on traffic due to upcoming commercial complex at a site very near to the CBD of Delhi, assessing the Level of Service once the non-functioning metro stations of pink line in Delhi become operational, the traffic based air pollution dispersion using ADMS as well as the public transport module of Comprehensive Mobility Plan of Ahmedabad.