Early Career Spotlight

Abhilash Singh


Tell us about yourself:

I am Abhilash Singh, born in the Indian state of West Bengal (Kolkata), where I got my secondary education. I acquired an integrated Master of Technology (B.Tech.+M.Tech.) degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering, with a specialization in Wireless Communication and Networks in 2017, from Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida, India. I was the recipient of the gold medal award at the university. While pursuing my master's degree, I developed an interest in applying remote sensing techniques for monitoring the earth's surface process. To realize my interest, I enrolled in a Ph.D. program with Dr. Kumar Gaurav in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Bhopal, India, in 2018 and have been a research scholar since.


What is your research about?

I use an interdisciplinary approach to expand my scientific intellect and resolve research problems. My current research interest includes coupling machine learning algorithms with satellite imagery to exploit satellite observations. I mainly work on predicting soil attributes (soil moisture and surface roughness) from satellite images, daily streamflow, groundwater level, and disease outbreak prediction using hydrometeorological parameters. I am also interested in developing innovative algorithms in the field of evolutionary computation (e.g., Enhanced Cuckoo Search algorithm (ECS-NL)) and machine learning (e.g., PCA-MM-SVR, LT-FS-ID, AutoML-ID, Physics-informed machine learning).


What excites you about your research?

When solving research problems, quick and easy solutions are hard to construct, especially if it is an emerging field. By employing progressive and fresh ways, such as converting nature-inspired observations into an optimization algorithm for Nature-based solutions, I not only derive a solution but expand my research horizon. One example is to employ satellite-derived soil moisture to understand and monitor drainage congestion due to anthropogenic barriers such as road networks [1]. Taking such avenues for solving research problems excites me to think more along the line of integrating disciplines for troubleshooting. Seeing the direct impact on my research work for solving practical issues always motivates me and gives me the strength to move.

[1] Singh, Abhilash, Mood Niranjan Naik, and Kumar Gaurav. "Drainage congestion due to road network on the Kosi alluvial Fan, Himalayan Foreland." International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 112 (2022): 102892. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jag.2022.102892


What broader importance does your research have for society?

This is perhaps the most important question which I would like to answer. My research practice has always aimed to contribute towards a more connected society that practices sustainable use of the available resources in an efficient and thought-provoking manner. My research works so far have been driven to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of target 2030. Out of 17 goals, my research contributes towards six goals (2: zero hunger, 3: good health and well-being, 7: affordable and clean energy, 8: decent work and economic growth, 11: sustainable cities and communities, and 13: climate action) as per Scopus data (https://www.abhilashsingh.net/docc/SDGs.png).


What inspired you to pursue a career in Earth Science?

During an undergraduate course on “radar communication”, I was intrigued by the working principles and the plethora of applications. It made me eager to know how satellites capture earth information in the form of images. This led me to my interest in extracting information through satellite images and eventually into the field of Earth Sciences. I was always excited to learn state-of-the-art machine learning techniques for extracting valuable information from satellite images to advance my research problems. For this, I would like to thank Dr. Kumar Gaurav (IISER Bhopal) for providing me the essential platform and guidance to pursue my research interest. He always motivated me to excel in my work and to try new avenues in the pursuit of answers.


What are you looking to do after you complete your PhD or postdoc?

I have achieved the primary objectives of my Ph.D. thesis, and currently, I am writing my thesis. After completing my Ph.D., I would like to join as a post-doctoral researcher in a lab that primarily works on remote sensing and machine learning (including but not limited to) for Earth process observation.


Given unlimited funding and access to resources, what is your dream project that you would pursue?

Currently, International Soil Moisture Network (ISMN) only provides in-situ soil moisture observations at a single location in India (IIT Kanpur). Given unlimited funding and access to resources, I would like to develop a dense network of in-situ soil moisture observation across pan India. This will give ample opportunities for researchers working in the soil moisture field to validate and employ their model for irrigation and climate modeling. Being an interdisciplinary researcher, I would also like to explore the connection between two different physical processes, such as connecting soil moisture information with the waterlogging problem.


What else do you do? Any hobbies or interests outside of work?

I love to write scientific blogs on Medium (https://abhilash-singh.medium.com/). Besides this, I enjoy spending time on learning other languages and cooking food.


If you would like, please provide a link to your personal website.

Homepage: https://www.abhilashsingh.net/

Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=iyToRX8AAAAJ

Twitter: https://twitter.com/abhilash_iiserb

ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Abhilash-Singh-5


Abhilash Singh presenting his Ph.D. work at the 6th Soil Moisture Validation and Application Workshop, Perugia, Italy.