Updated 20/07/23

For more than 30 years, IRD in India has been developing research and training activities to address major contemporary environmental and social challenges, in collaboration with renowned Indian partners, and is reaching out though these collaborations to smaller higher education and research bodies.

IRD activities in India cover a wide range of research themes, including water management and infectious diseases, urban policies and demographic transition. These projects are conducted in partnership with renowned Indian institutions, including universities, scientific institutes, think tanks and NGOs.

IRD is also helping to build research capacity in India through the establishment of young research teams (JEAI), laboratories and observatories.

In 2022, IRD in India will have about 20 French researchers developing scientific projects in collaboration with Indian partners, including 5 IRD researchers on expatriation. The research activities of IRD in India are interconnected with research activities conducted in the rest of the Indian subcontinent, in South Asia and in the world.

IRD in India is administratively linked to the IRD representation in Thailand. A local correspondence was established in New Delhi in March 2021, in order to support the growing activity of researchers in India and to ensure an institutional representation mission. Eventually, this correspondence should evolve into a full Representation.


Researchers in deputation

  • BOULET Gilles
    (UMR113 CESBIO + IRD International and European Relations Department)

    Gilles Boulet is an IRD Senior Scientist affiliated with the CESBIO lab in Toulouse and currently deputed at the Indo-French Cell for Water Science at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He leads the Ecosystem Stress Group of the TRISHNA CNES/ISRO Thermal InfraRed mission proposal on the French side and leads several research projects sponsored by CNES and ANR to develop and evaluate evapotranspiration products based on remote sensing data. His interests lie in water fluxes and variables retrieval from TIR data, land surface modeling and Data Assimilation. He has more than 30 years of experience in field experiments and research developments designed for semi-arid water resources sustainable management and currently leads one of the two CESBIO research teams entitled “Modeling and remote sensing of land surface processes”. In India, he leads, together with Kanishka Mallick (LIST) the ANR Project HiDRATE (“integrating High resolution Data from Remote sensing And land surface models for Transpiration and Evaporation mapping”), the TOSCA/CNES project “TRISHNA Ecosystem Stress” and is involved in the PC3 PEPR FariCarbon “RIFT” project. He collaborates also with IITB.

    Gilles Boulet is also the Acting Liaison Officer for IRD in India

  • GOMEZ Cécile
    (UMR 144 LISAH), based at CEFIRSE, Bangalore

    Cécile Gomez is a Research Associate in Spectroscopy for Soil Sciences. She began her career with a thesis in Earth Sciences at the Laboratoire Sciences de la Terre (Lyon), devoted to the geological characterization of an uninhabited, uncultivated semi-arid zone (Namibia), a potential mineral resource, using multi-source remote sensing data. Before joining IRD in 2007, she completed a first post-doctorate at the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatial, focusing on mineralogical characterization of the Martian surface, using Visible-Proche InfraRed (Vis-PIR) hyperspectral imaging, followed by a second post-doctorate at the University of Sydney, focusing on organic carbon mapping of soils in cultivated areas, using Vis-PIR hyperspectral imaging.

    At IRD, she studies the characterization of soils and their surface conditions under the impact of agricultural practices. Her work focuses on cultivated soils under both climatic and anthropogenic pressure, at the scale of the resource watershed. Her research is dedicated to soil properties and surface conditions that play a major role in water resource management and carbon storage. It uses laboratory and field spectroscopy, as well as optical remote sensing.

    Her work is structured along two research axes:

    • Methodological work focusing on three questions:
      • How far can laboratory spectroscopy be considered an alternative method to physico-chemical soil analysis?
      • What performances can be expected from the use of Vis-PIR imaging for mapping primary soil properties and soil surface conditions?
      • Can we spatialize and monitor functional soil properties using Vis-PIR imaging?
    • Cognitive work to better understand soil evolution in the short, medium and long term, to understand the benefits and antagonistic effects of practices and developments on the soil.

    In India, Cécile Gomez works in close collaboration with colleagues from the Indian Institute of Science, the National Bureau of Soil Survey & Land Use Planning and the National Institute of Technology, Karnataka. Her research program is based on the Berambadi watershed, which is part of the M-TROPICS Observatory of the OZCAR network.

  • GUILMOTO Christophe
    (UMR 196 CEPED), based at the Centre de Sciences Sociales - CSH, New Delhi

    Christophe Z. Guilmoto is a Research Director in Demography, First Class. Christophe Guilmoto devoted his PhD to the historical demography of Tamil Nadu and has since worked on fertility decline in South India and on gender imbalances at birth in India and the world.

    After studying mathematics and sociology, he completed his PhD on the demographic history of Tamil Nadu (India). He then joined the IRD and worked for three years in Senegal with the Directorate of Statistics in Dakar, before being posted to India for five years with the French Institute in Pondicherry. He was then Executive Director of CICRED (Centre for International Cooperation in Demographic Research, Paris) from 2005 to 2007, and joined the UMR CEPED in 2008. Christophe Z. Guilmoto is currently on a two-year assignment at the Centre for Human Sciences (CSH, New Delhi).

    His research interests started with historical demography and moved to international migration theory from his work in Senegal, and then to fertility decline and spatial demography with work in Asia, Europe and the Caucasus. Christophe Z. Guilmoto has worked on sex selection and sex imbalances at birth in the world with the support of UNFPA. He authored the first global report on sexual imbalances at birth (UNFPA 2012) and recently contributed to the UNFPA 2020 report on harmful practices.

    Christophe Z. Guilmoto is conducting several projects on the demography of inequalities within the framework of his assignment (2021 - 2024) at the Centre for Human Sciences (CSH, Delhi). He has notably worked on the demographic aspects of the COVID-19 crisis in India. An article An alternative estimation of the death toll of the Covid-19 pandemic in India was published in the journal PLoS One and widely discussed in the Indian, French, and foreign press: it is one of the few peer-reviewed contributions to mortality measurement. Exploratory work on the theme of social segmentation is also in progress.

    Demographic inequalities have been at the heart of IRD's research for numerous years. These inequalities are expressed in particular through fertility, mortality, health, and housing. The objective is to understand how these inequalities are articulated with socio-economic, gender, and regional disparities.


  • SALPETEUR Matthieu
    (UMR 208 PALOC), ), based at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment - ATREE, Bangalore

    Matthieu Salpeteur is a researcher in anthropology. His work focuses on society-environment interactions, which are approached from three main angles:

    • the study of socio-political dynamics specific to human societies that affect, directly or indirectly, these interactions, through different case studies. His doctorate focused on a symbolic system that can be assimilated to a form of individual totemism, in the Grassfields region (Cameroon), and aimed to analyze the socio-political logics involved in the maintenance and evolution of this system. He then focused on local naturalist knowledge by studying the way in which social organization and informal social interactions shape and affect the transmission of this knowledge in nomadic herding communities in the Kutch region (Gujarat, India).
    • the study of the evolutionary dynamics of knowledge systems and practices (local naturalist knowledge) mobilized by human groups to interact with their environments, in relation to social dynamics but also to environmental transformations. The challenge here is to understand how this knowledge, which plays the role of interface between human activities and the environment, is affected by these transformations, which sometimes take place in very different time frames.
    • the study of contemporary transformations of nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoral societies, and of the way they adapt to global environmental changes. His work focuses in particular on how nomadic pastoralists adapt to changes in the territories in which they live, linked to the extension of irrigation, changes in land tenure, and the fragmentation of ecosystems, which affect both the spatial distribution and the accessibility of the natural resources on which they depend.

    Matthieu Salpeteur relies on the qualitative methods of ethnography as well as on a series of quantitative tools from ethnoecology (free lists, cultural consensus analysis, construction of knowledge indices) and sociology (social network analysis), used independently or in combination.

    These different works feed an epistemological reflection on the questions of scale in the analysis of society-environment interactions: spatial and temporal scales, since social and environmental dynamics take shape at different levels; but also scales in the analysis of social facts, since qualitative and quantitative tools produce photographs of the groups studied situated at different levels of representativeness.

  • SIMENEL Romain
    (UMR 208 PALOC), based at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies - CSDS, New Delhi

    Ethnologist and anthropologist, Romain Simenel studies the relations between societies and environments, or more simply between humans and other existing beings, from two angles, otherness and learning, which he considers as the two pillars of cultural transmission. His latest research focuses on the forms of cultural transmission between children that take place in contact with the environment. His approach focuses on the capacity of children to learn from each other based on their experience of other existing people, plants or animals. From the transmission of language, beekeeping knowledge or the practice of rock carving between shepherd children, to that of Arabic writing in Koranic schools, her Moroccan and now Indian fields allow her to explain how the social, cognitive and linguistic dimensions of the human mind are articulated in the sensitive experience of the environment. His work aims at placing the question of cultural learning in the field of sensitive experience lived in contact with plants and animals in order to lay the first foundations of an ontogeny of human intelligence in the prism of sensitive relations between humans and other existing beings. This reflection is also part of a development context by questioning the way in which the globalization of techniques and teaching models impacts the diversity of cultural transmissions.

    Co-designer of the Jardin des Altérités at the Jardin des plantes de Paris and member of the Scientific Council of the PALOC laboratory, Romain Simenel co-created the AlterEco seminar in 2018 at the Muséum and was part of the pedagogical team of the Master 1 SeB at MNHN from 2018 to 2020. He also scientifically coordinated the realization of the book L'Écologie des Mondes pour la Cop 21 and is part of the founding scientific team of the Berber Museum of the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech.

  • ZÉRAH Marie-Hélène
    (UMR 245 CESSMA), based at the Centre for Policy Research - CPR, New Delhi

    Marie-Hélène Zérah is a research director in urban studies. Her work focuses on the transformation of Indian cities since the so-called liberalization period that began in 1991. Much of her work focuses on the issue of urban services (water, sanitation, waste and more recently electricity), as services offer one of the most useful observation points for understanding the transformations underway in urban India. This entry through services has led her to focus on issues of governance, decentralization and urban democracy by working on changes in the power relations between the State (at different scales), civil society and private actors.

    More recently, Marie-Hélène Zérah has reoriented her research on the dynamics of small cities, which are often forgotten in urban studies in India, where research on megacities dominates. Small cities, which are numerous and growing, reflect India's urban diversity and constitute a central component of the urban fabric of the Indian subcontinent. Research focused on their spatial transformations, the economic dynamics that explain their growth and the changes in their social structure are underway in the framework of various projects (ANR, World Bank funding).

IRD's Representation in India is with the IRD Representation in Thailand. For any information request, you can contact the Representation in Thailand: thailande@ird.fr