People Behind the Science - Srikkanth Ramachandran
At TUMCREATE, as we prepare to conclude our research in Phase Two – Towards the Ultimate Public Transport System, we would like to highlight our researchers who continue to make significant contributions to the programme. Through our interview series, People behind the Science, we talk to our researchers to discover more about them and their stories.
Our interviewee today is Srikkanth Ramachandran, a research fellow from the Electrification Suite and Test Lab (ESTL) team.
To pursue his passion in sustainability, Srikkanth Ramachandran decided to pack up his bag in Chennai, India and move to Munich, Germany for a Masters in Power Engineering at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Having moved from places to places, one thing that always remain is his conviction in incorporating sustainability in every walk of his life. He even invested in 10,000 kgs of personal carbon credits from emission reduction projects to offset his 2020 emissions. With the on-going pandemic, he has managed to cut even more personal carbon usage and extend the use of the credits! Besides being committed to the environment, Srikkanth is also an avid cyclist and a cricketer.
Q: Tell us about yourself and what you do…
I am a research fellow in the ESTL team of TUMCREATE and my expertise is in Life Cycle Assessment. I have completed my Master of Science in Power Engineering at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and will soon be defending my PhD thesis at TUM as well. My primary focus is the estimation of emission reduction potential of electric buses in Singapore. We also estimate the emission mitigation that Singapore could realise by importing renewable energy.
Q: What made you come to Singapore, and how has it been like living here?
The thirst for exploring new opportunities and challenges drove me to seek my Master Thesis prospects outside of my comfort zone in Germany. This is why I landed in Singapore and there has been no looking back ever since. I took to Singapore like a duck to water. The climate conditions, which is pretty much like my hometown, and the cricket culture here helped me feel at home immediately. Singapore offers so much in terms of cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity. It keeps reminding us of how limited our knowledge on the diversity of people is, and how much more there is to learn. For a foodie like me and my wife, who I met here, this little red dot is a delectable dream.
Q: Who or what inspired you to be in your field of research?
Sustainability has always been my forte and it was inspired and inscribed in me by my parents who practised minimalism and the 3Rs, reduce, reuse, and recycle, at home. Any project that I did during my childhood always included an environmental perspective. This led me to do my Masters in Power Engineering where the theoretical concepts of sustainability were fortified. With the present scenario of accelerated global warming, even daily news articles and basic understanding of the issue could keep one motivated to achieve far more in this field.
Q: What are some of the challenges for you in your field of research?
The assessment of emission reduction potential of alternative technologies forms the crux of my research. This kind of work is very data driven. Though generic data is available in literature, these are not country specific and adopting them to each country is a challenge. Even when we adopt the data, validation of the results becomes impossible which slightly reduces its reliability. We generally overcome this by being open about the data sources and follow a robust and standardised methodology along with sensitivity analyses.
Q: Tell us about your work and journey in TUMCREATE…
I have been with TUMCREATE for almost 8 years and have associated myself with the company at various capacities. I started as a research assistant in 2013 and graduated to a research associate later that year. In my PhD thesis, I have built models to estimate the bio-energy potential in ASEAN and the emission reduction potential of its use in the transport sector using life cycle assessment.
Currently, I am a research fellow and I work on assessing the sustainability and emission reduction potential of transport electrification and renewable energy import for Singapore. This can help to objectively quantify the emission savings that an electric bus fleet in Singapore can offer and really show the impact of such change. By assessing renewable energy imports, we can identify low carbon renewable energy import options that are best suited for Singapore.
Having guided a few students along the way and worked on various cross-collaboration projects and publications has made my journey here stimulating and wholesome. TUMCREATE offers the right environment and like-minded colleagues for me to stay inspired and ride through this path.
Q: What are some of your plans in the future?
Singapore has become my second home, and it is tough to think beyond it for the near future. I would like to be a part of the projects that help Singapore achieve its sustainability goals. In the long run, I would like to contribute to society through knowledge-share. Also, I wish to see myself being involved in policy-making to help develop directives for tackling climate change at the highest level.
On the personal front, I am gearing up to finish the Tour De Bintan cycling challenge by 2021!
(Who does Srikkanth think would be a great teammate to tackle the challenges in climate change with him?)
Q: If you could have any fictional character as your research teammate, who would you choose and why?
Marvel’s Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man! I am hoping to combine his technical prowess and wealth with my knowledge and steadfast desire for a sustainable future. We could work on scaling up his arc reactor to provide sustainable electricity to cities or even countries. It might be fictional but working with someone like him could probably lead us to find actual solutions to eco-friendly alternatives that could be implemented in real life. Plus, I hope to fly in his suit and potentially befriend The Hulk one day!
Srikkanth’s passion and work in sustainability are both inspiring and admirable. Hopefully, the results in his work will prompt for more efforts in achieving a sustainable future.