Soundarya Iyer

Post-Doctoral Fellow | siyer at iihs dot ac dot in

2017    PhD, Development studies, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore
2008    MSc, Molecular and Human Genetics, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
2006    BSc, Life Sciences and Biochemistry, University of Mumbai, Mumbai



Countries: India
States: Karnataka
Cities: Bengaluru
Languages: English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil

Soundarya Iyer has a PhD in Development Studies from the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore. She is a Postdoctoral researcher working on the CARIAA (Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Asia and Africa) project. Soundarya’s dissertation traced the processes of transformation in three villages in different regions of Karnataka using quantitative and qualitative methods. She identified agrarian resilience in the Old Mysore region, localised urbanisation in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region and localised modernity in the Coastal Karnataka region as the ongoing processes of rural transformation in different regions of Karnataka. Her dissertation uses insights from agrarian history, development economics, sociology, social anthropology and political science to comment on processes in rural transformation.


Soundarya has been trained in life sciences and was researching questions of evolutionary biology in laboratory settings before she moved into the social sciences in 2010. She made the transition to pursue her passion of conducting field-based research in rural India. Her approach to research has been interdisciplinary ever since. At IIHS, Soundarya is involved in the CARIAA project and her research focuses on the barriers and enablers to climate adaptation.

Practice Projects at IIHS

 2016 Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA)

Journal Articles  

  • Iyer, S. (2017). Circular migration and localized urbanization in rural India. Environment and Urbanization ASIA, 8 (1), 105-119.
  • Pani, N., & Iyer, S. (2015). Towards a framework to determine backwardness: Caste, inequality and reservations in India. Journal of South Asian Development, 10 (1), 48-72.


Other Writing

  • Iyer, S. (2017). Dynamics of rural transformation in Karnataka: A view from three villages (Unpublished master’s thesis). Manipal University, Manipal.
  • Iyer, S. (2017, August 8) Transformative scenario planning: there is a method in madness. ASSAR Blog. Retrieved from
  • Panel discussion titled Circular migration and localized urbanization in Rural India. Relating Migration to Future and Current Urbanization in the conference, Urban Arc 2017: The City in Transition, organized by IIHS, Bangalore from January 18-20, 2017.
  • Iyer, S. (2016, March). Agrarian change without Land Reform: Transformational interventions in a South Indian village. Paper presented at the Modern South Asia Workshop. Yale University, New Haven, CT.
  • Lecture on Urbanization in India in a course titled ‘Urbanization and International Development’ offered by Dr. Sai Balakrishnan at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in March 2016.