Accessibility statement

Samarthia Thankappan
Senior Lecturer



Samarthia joined the Department of Environment and Geography in December 2007 from her previous post from the Centre for Business Relationships, Accountability Sustainability and Society (BRASS) at Cardiff University, Cardiff. Samarthia had worked at the School of Management and Economics, Queen’s University of Belfast prior to joining Cardiff University. Samarthia has held various research positions in India and has extensive research experience in the field of Sustainable development & technological policy issues; Social & economic aspects of sustainability. Samarthia's research interests include resilience in food systems, such as in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Please note that Samarthia's office is in the Environment Building, 2nd floor ENV/242


Lecturer  University of York, Department of Environment and Geography
PhD Aberystwyth, UK 
MSc Agronomy  Allahabad, India 



woman in rice fieldMy research expertise is in the area of sustainability, policy and governance, providing coherent frameworks for highly innovative research into mechanisms to de-couple economic development from environmental deterioration to operate within ecosystem limits.

My research focuses on three key areas: (i) Sustainability and the agri-food sector, tackling  a wide range of issues from climate change adaptation and mitigation to understanding the ways in which current behaviours or changed behaviours may affect the sustainability of consumption and production systems in the future; (ii) Sustainability and the automotive sector exploring environmental, economic and social costs of enhanced transport systems, especially  the impacts of bio-based material substitution in the automotive sector; (iii) Environment, society & governance, examining the complexity & the  impact of climate change policy on businesses in the supply chain and mapping social and knowledge flows in ecosystems.


Using wild ancestor plants to make rice more resilient to increasingly unpredictable water availability

man harvesting riceThis project uses new technology platforms developed at Cornell University, USA, to access valuable genetic variation from ancestral wild species of rice, introduce this to modern day elite cultivars that are widely grown in India and identify new varieties that have increased yields under drought conditions due to the presence of small segments of DNA from the wild species. In addition however, the adoption of new rice varieties by local communities is dependent on multiple factors in addition to yield performance with grain quality being one of the most important. Cultural and sociological issues such as the role of gender also play a significant part in determining the success of a new cultivar and in order to address this project will perform a socioeconomic study to assess the likely uptake patterns of any new varieties and their impact on farmers' incomes. The impact of new rice cultivars on yield, per unit cost of production, and total production per specific input (land, labour, fertilizers, seeds) will be evaluated and on-farm testing and participatory evaluation will be an integral component of cultivar field trials. This project will also model the impact of new varieties to quantify how yields are enhanced in drought-prone landscapes currently and in the future as climate changes. This information along with the outputs from our socio-economic studies will inform policy makers in developing countries about the socio-economic benefits of new varieties and thus improve adoption of the most effective strategies to address food insecurity and poverty.


2012-2016 BBSRC Co-PI
Using wild ancestor plants to make rice more resilient to increasingly unpredictable water availability
2010-2012 NERC Co-PI
Whole decision network analysis for coastal ecosystems
2010-2013 White Rose
PhD Studentships
£40K Industrial bio-transformation: Exploring the potential institutional limits


2013- Anil Rautray
(BBSRC - ongoing)
Using participatory tools to define acceptability criteria for new rice varieties
2012- Abeer Al Kalbani
(Govt of Oman - ongoing)
Food security in Oman: Role of Women
2010- Anne Kildunne
(White Rose - ongoing)
Industrial bio-transformation: Exploring the potential institutional limits
2009-2013 Thomas Long
(White Rose - completed 2013)
The mangement of climate change mitigation objectives in supply chains of large organisations in the UK
2009-2013 Julia Latham
(ESRC - completed 2013)
Socio-economic implications of biodiversity conservation and REDD for protected area management in rural Africa
2008-2013 Jesus Concepcion-Carbera
(ESRC - completed 2013)
The new geographies of food: confronting complexity between local and global
2007-2011 Jesse McEntee
(ESRC - completed 2011)
Food deserts in Wales, UK and Vermont, USA: An international comparison of the socioeconomic causes and implications of inadequate food access
 Thankappan, Samarthia

Contact details

Dr Samarthia Thankappan
Senior Lecturer
Department of Environment and Geography
University of York
YO10 5NG

Tel: 01904 324324




  • Environment, Development & Society (Year 1)
  • Food, Space Culture and Society (Year 2)
  • Sustainable Societies (Year 3)