Siddharth Kawadiya is a PhD student studying Environmental Engineering. Following a suggestion from his advisor in India, he decided to come to the U.S. in pursuit of more opportunities in his field. Siddharth has been working with Professor Marc Deshusses in the Pratt School of Engineering’s Sanitation Solutions Department. He started off with only a year-long thesis back in 2015, but ended up enjoying his time here and chose to extend it. Now, he is in his fourth year at Duke!
The Sanitation Solutions team has been focusing on reinventing toilets in order to improve sanitation in areas that are not connected to electricity, water, and/or sewage systems. Much of their studies are novel experiments in the field and have great potential to be implemented in developing countries and areas suffering from unexpected natural disasters. At the moment, their prototypes are primarily on the lab level, and the main challenges they have left to overcome are 1) lowering the cost, and 2) mass-producing the final product.
Siddharth has been working on an Odor Control project as part of his team’s research. He has been developing and testing low-cost odor sensors that can detect if an odor is over a certain threshold. Currently, these sensors cost hundreds of dollars. Siddharth’s team wants to get the cost down to less than 1 cent per person per day, while maintaining a reasonable amount of durability and mass production capability. One of Siddharth’s motivations for continuing his research project is the opportunity to apply his work to areas in India. When he returns to India, in addition to catching up with family, he also meets with potential partners to test his prototypes.
In his free time, Siddharth enjoys playing tennis and creating a regular routine for himself with Physical Education classes (along with lots of Netflix!). He has been playing tennis for 20 years! He also loves to go to Falls Lake State Park in Wake Forest, a beautiful collection of seven access areas around the shoreline of a 12,000-acre undeveloped reservoir.
After coming to the U.S., Siddharth found that the biggest challenge was adjusting to the differences in food. Additionally, he noticed that classrooms in America encourage students to ask questions and interact more, which he was not as used to doing in India. By coming to Duke, Siddharth has enjoyed interacting with more Americans and getting to know the U.S. firsthand over the past couple of years. In the future, he hopes to find more opportunities to apply his research around the world and see more diversity in the graduate Environmental Engineering department at Duke.