Tarika Vohra

Tarika Vohra graduated from the Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Mumbai, India. She joins Columbia University with a passion for the environment, social entrepreneurship, and technology. She wishes to pursue Earth and Environmental Engineering at SEAS and explore Computer Science and Statistics.

Tarika’s interest in the environment was kindled in her early teens when she filmed the wastewater treatment and renewable energy modules in her housing complex for a 'Clean and Green' competition. As she filmed, she became sensitized to the perils of open garbage dumps. She partnered with 'Bin It India' to distribute dustbins in her local area and to create awareness about cleanliness. This initiative led her to further research on a grave problem in India: the compromised safety of sanitation workers assigned to manual scavenging, the hazardous job of cleaning human sludge. Under the mentorship of Professor Jothiprakash at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and Professor Hadas Mamane at the Tel Aviv Institute of Technology, she conceptualized a helmet-mounted odor meter to detect toxic gases like hydrogen sulfide, methane, and ammonia, and provide audio-visual evacuation alerts. Tarika created the prototype at Maker’s Asylum, one of India’s first and leading maker spaces. The odor meter is an open-source software based, low-cost device. IIT Bombay has filed for an Indian patent for the odor meter with Professor Jothiprakash and Tarika as co-inventors.

She has also worked under Dr. Sagnik Dey at the Centre of Excellence for Research on Clean Air (CERCA) at IIT Delhi to identify and analyze spikes in particulate matter (2.5) concentrations in the Delhi National Capital Region. She explored the nuances of wastewater treatment during her project with Smaart Water, a wastewater management company based in Mumbai. She evaluated the flow rate of specific anaerobic baffled reactors in Maharashtra, India, and would like to continue her research on these technologies at Columbia University.

Tarika is a recipient of the prestigious Hindustan Times Scholarship and Times of India Scholarship for responsibility and awareness and hopes to use the funds for a start-up focusing on environmental conservation.

Tarika is a passionate basketball and squash player, and co-founded Aid For Sports, an online platform that connects donors of sporting equipment to underprivileged athletes. She is a strong advocate for women entrepreneurship and helped organize Live Pitch, an event for women social-preneurs who create employment and foster financial independence. She has been a volunteer at Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD) in India, and besides regular visits for in-person care, she also helped WSD raise funds. For leisure, Tarika enjoys analyzing poetry, cooking, and pursuing her weight-training regime.