Siri Nallaparaju is a master’s student in city and regional planning, with a concentration in environmental issues. She is from Hyderabad, India, and received her bachelor’s degree in urban planning from the School of Planning and Architecture in India in 2018. “I intend to become an urban ecologist someday, with a focus on sustainable planning for a better future,” she says.
What made you choose UNC-Chapel Hill when deciding on a program/place to study?
UNC’s city planning program is one of the best in the country. It takes the amalgamation of all the spheres of knowledge in the world to help build a great community. This can only be achieved through interactions with various students and professors from different concentrations and by interlinking diverse approaches to urban planning. As an international graduate student, I knew UNC would be the right place for me to fit in. I was also looking for the right group of faculty members that would help me achieve my academic goals while simultaneously laying a path for my future research in climate change and international development. UNC has the right diversity of faculty in terms of research concentrations and interdepartmental certificates.
Tell us about your research.
I see urban planning as a very broad profession which is continuously growing with no defined boundaries but many interlinked issues. In generic terms, I aim to create, design and manage cities that are more livable and futuristic but not at the cost of our natural environment. My research focuses on ensuring better land use planning and management of coastal cities through nature-based climatic solutions instead of the current quick, easy and unsustainable solutions that pollute and degrade the marine ecosystem.
What are some of your favorite places and things to do in your home country?
I love my country’s diverse cuisine. I love trying out new authentic and traditional food everywhere I go. Apart from that, I enjoy visiting ancient temples, admiring my country’s traditional architecture and heritage, and celebrating the many festivals we have. I occasionally enjoy going on long treks. Although I’ve traveled all over India, Hyderabad, the city I grew up in, and Kanyakumari, the southern tip of India, will continue to be two of my favorite places to go and find home.
What are you hoping to accomplish with your Carolina degree?
I came to UNC with one goal, which was to gain the necessary hard skills that will lay a path for me to work on climate change adaptation in the future. I am hoping to work at various international nonprofit organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund, United Nations and The Nature Conservancy to fight for a better world to live in. In India, even though we have the means to a good education and a happy life, we do not have the means to make the right change at the right level. I hope this degree will help me get there. I constantly strive to improve and save our planet. Most importantly, I want to help and contribute my part in eradicating the biggest problems. I hope that future generations will learn about them as history rather than facing them.