Dr. Sunita Varjani

Dr. Sunita Varjani

Sr. Associate Professor

Profile Summary

Dr. Varjani is a highly accomplished researcher and collaborator with a strong international and national presence. She has an extensive background in environmental and industrial biotechnology, bioprocess technology, and waste management. Her expertise has been recognized through various prestigious appointments and memberships. In 2021, Dr. Varjani was selected as a Member of The National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI), a testament to her outstanding contributions to the field. She has also served as a visiting fellow at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) and a scientific officer at the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB), Government of Gujarat, India. Dr. Varjani has actively contributed to research and development initiatives in collaboration with government departments, and research institutions. She has been a member of the Research Advisory Committees for the Government of Gujarat institutes. Her research endeavors focus on developing innovative process technologies for pollution control, biomanufacturing, waste management, and resource recovery. Dr. Varjani is committed to promoting sustainable practices and advancing the concepts of circular bioeconomy. Her work has been recognized through various accolades, including being listed as a "Highly Cited Researcher" in Clarivate's Web of Science in 2022. In addition to her research achievements, Dr. Varjani holds editorial positions in several scientific journals. She serves as the executive editor of the Archives of Microbiology journal and is a senior editor for the Sustainable Environment journal. Furthermore, she is an editor for the Indian Journal of Microbiology, an associate editor for the Spanish Journal of Soil Science, and holds positions on the editorial boards of Current Pollution Reports, Sustainable Chemistry, and Pharmacy. Dr. Varjani's impressive track record, extensive collaborations, and commitment to sustainable research make her a prominent figure in the field of environmental and industrial biotechnology and biomanufacturing.

Work Experience

Dr. Sunita Varjani has a diverse professional background. Prior to joining UPES, she served as a visiting fellow at the City University of Hong Kong and held an adjunct professor position at UPES. She also holds position as the Director at the Institute of Chartered Waste Managers in Rajasthan, India. Dr. Varjani's previous roles include working as a scientific officer at the Gujarat Pollution Control Board in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India. She also served as the Next Unit Head of the Research & Development Cell at the Gujarat Pollution Control Board, where her interest in waste biorefineries and applied research was sparked. Additionally, she has been an member of various research advisory committees, including those at the Gujarat Pollution Control Board and the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre. Dr. Varjani has also contributed her expertise as a visiting scientist at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Research Interests

Industrial & Environmental Biotechnology, Wastewater Treatment, Process Engineering, Bioprocess Technology, Waste Management.

Dr. Varjani is a renowned researcher in the fields of bioremediation, waste management, and bioprocess development. Her previous work includes successful isolation of an oleophilic halotolerant bacterial culture with promising applications in the petrochemical industry for crude oil biodegradation. She has also investigated the potential of thermo- and halo-tolerant biosurfactant(s) produced by Pseudomonas aeruginosa for enhanced oil recovery. Dr. Varjani has developed a hydrocarbon utilizing consortium (HUBC) for efficient petroleum hydrocarbon degradation in contaminated agricultural soil, benefiting farmers and the environment. She has also contributed to addressing environmental challenges in the industrial sector(s) through microbial degradation of pollutants in industrial wastewater. At CityU, her research was focused on developing integrated biorefinery strategies for sustainable production of chemicals and fuels from food waste, aiming to promote circular economy and sustainable waste management.

Teaching Philosophy

Dr. Varjani employs a variety of teaching methods tailored to meet the needs of her students, ensuring effective learning outcomes. In the classroom, she utilizes comprehensive teaching techniques to cover course content thoroughly. She also facilitates interactive group discussions that promote critical thinking and collaborative learning. Recognizing the importance of personalized guidance, she embraces one-on-one mentorship to support individual student growth and development. Dr. Varjani believes in combining theoretical knowledge with practical application, incorporating project-based assignments that focus on developing low-cost technologies and processes for waste management. These projects result in usable technologies and/or research publications. By engaging students in real-world problem-solving, she aims to foster their critical thinking and innovation skills. To assess student progress and teaching effectiveness, she utilizes continuous evaluation methods, including assignments, live quiz competitions, and anonymous online feedback.

Courses Taught

Dr. Varjani's academic journey has been enriched by her experiences in renowned universities  including the University and Institute of Advanced Research (UIAR), Central University of Gujarat (CUG) and Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University. In her roles as faculty, visiting faculty and guest faculty, she has developed a multidisciplinary teaching approach that incorporates her expertise in environmental science, microbiology, and biotechnology. She has also contributed to training and extension activities, collaborating with research institutes, universities, government departments, and industries to develop, plan, execute, monitor, and report research. These experiences have equipped her with a diverse skill set and a comprehensive understanding of teaching and research methodologies.

Awards and Grants

Dr. Varjani has received numerous accolades and recognition for her outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Varjani has been enlisted as a “Highly Cited Researchers 2022” (Top 1% in the World”, Highly Cited Researchers are 1 in 1,000) published by Clarivate’s Web of Science. She has been enlisted as a Highly Cited Researcher (Top 2% in the World), Elsevier Citation Report (2020-2023).  In 2022, she was honored with the CDC India-Professor Ashok Pandey Award by The Biotech Research Society, India. Throughout her career, she has received several Young Scientist Awards from esteemed organizations such as The International Bioprocessing Association, Biotech Research Society, India, Microbiologist's Society India, Association of Microbiologists of India, and the International Society for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability. Her research papers have also been recognized as highly cited and highly downloaded in journals such as Bioresource Technology, Journal of Environmental Management, and Bioengineered. Additionally, she has received Top Reviewer Awards from Bioresource Technology in 2017 and 2018 and has been honored with Best Paper Awards in national and international conferences in multiple years.

Scholarly Activities

Dr. Varjani collaborates with interdisciplinary teams in multiple institutes across 15 countries, fostering international research collaborations. Her impressive research portfolio comprises over 480 publications, including research papers, reviews, books, chapters, and conference proceedings. These publications have garnered significant recognition, evident from her h-index of 67 and over 18,000 citations on Google Scholar (Feb 12, 2024). Her publications in reputable journals demonstrate the impact and relevance of her research. On one hand, she is imparting knowledge to scientific community through her basic research publications; on other hand her books disseminate information and scientific developments for community at large. She has served as a Management Council Member of the Biotech Research Society of India (BRSI) from 2019 -2023. Currently, Dr. Varjani serves on the Executive Committee of the International Society for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability, supporting her activities from a professional management perspective. She has made valuable contributions as the Technical Manager (Biology) at GPCB for ISO/IEC 17025:2017. Leveraging her experience with quality assurance systems like ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO/IEC 17025, she promoted the activities of environment management for sustainable society. Dr. Varjani is dedicated to advancing practical and scalable solutions for pollution control, biomanufacturing, waste management, and resource recovery. She has guided numerous master's and B.Tech. students in their research work.