It’s ‘Academic’ As Prof Runs for Lappin Seat

Written by Megan Finnegan Bungeroth on . Posted in News Our Town, Our Town.


Hill Krishnan.

Hill Krishnan may be the only candidate for City Council who can speak with equal passion about his theories on national military spending and the fusion of disco moves with traditional Indian dancing. A search for him on YouTube will reveal Krishnan asking U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron about the British government’s commitment to nonproliferation in the face of a nuclear-enabled Iranian government at an NYU forum, as well as a video of him exuberantly demonstrating the aforementioned dance moves. To say that’s he’s versatile is perhaps an understatement.

Krishnan first came to the Upper East Side by chance. He came from his native India 10 years ago to earn a master’s degree in ergonomics and biomechanics and had so little money that he initially spent nights sleeping in the library and showering in the gym. When a friend of a friend opened his East 88th Street apartment to him, he found a new home in the neighborhood.

While he scraped through school, only allowed to work a part-time, on-campus job, Krishnan met his wife, also a student at NYU.

“Within a year we got married,” he said. “It changed my life—not just in terms of living conditions and my ability to have opportunities in this country, but also the perception of what I want to do with my life. You come from a poor background in India, you come to America, you want to achieve wealth and economic success. But my wife comes from a very different background,” one that emphasizes service, he explained.

While his expertise is wide-ranging—he’s currently teaching in the global affairs department of NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies and finishing his Ph.D. dissertation on international relations and science and technology policy—Krishnan wants to focus on the local. He reads voraciously and cites different authors’ ideas as inspiration for his enthusiastic opinions on how to tackle the Upper East Side’s biggest issues. He has embraced Edward O. Wilson’s idea of consilience, a term that the scientist author conjured to mean a unity of knowledge, as a lens through which to approach city government.

“Democracy starts in the local,” said Krishnan. “Education starts right here in our neighborhood.”

He saw firsthand the discrepancy between the glorified visions of American life he had previously held and the shortcomings of underserved schools in the Bronx when he tutored math to high school kids—he wants to make education a central focus of his campaign.

“Small class sizes alone is just one part of the puzzle. We have to have a curriculum that is project-based,” he said, like bringing kids to a lake to study pollution, biodiversity, biology and geography all in one experiential lesson.

Like every local politician and candidate for City Council, Krishnan is against the East 91st Street Marine Transfer station but looks at it as part of a larger problem to be solved for the city: How to reduce the amount of waste created in the first place instead of worrying about where to put it. He said that the jobs that will be created by the Cornell/Technion campus planned for Roosevelt Island is a major reason he has jumped into the race and would hope to use his own science background to help shape it.

“It’s great that we have lawyers and other intelligent people in the City Council, but we need people from different backgrounds represented,” Krishnan said.

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