Shukla Accelerates Research on Computer Memory for Big Data Era

Nikhil Shukla, assistant professor with the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering, has earned a grant from the National Science Foundation to improve computing applications through the design of new devices and circuits made with new materials.

The funding advances Shukla’s goal to build a new type of computer memory for the era of big data, to store and process data very efficiently. The grant is from the Electronics, Photonics and Magnetic Devices Program within the National Science Foundation’s Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems.

“As technology moves to the next level—thinking about social networks, autonomous cars, smart appliances—everything that’s new requires efficient and reliable hardware and software. These are the foundations for a connected world that is not only profitable, but also secure, sustainable and serviceable,” Shukla said.

Shukla joined UVA Engineering in 2018 with joint appointments in the Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. The grant is his first from the National Science Foundation as sole principal investigator. Making the direct transition from student to professor was both exciting and unnerving, Shukla said. “You have to get used to the feeling of not knowing, of looking into the unknown.

UVA’s investment in the Engineering School’s Multifunctional Materials Integration Initiative, which aims to create new functionalities in many technologies that form the backbone of modern society, expanded the breadth and depth of faculty across the School. “The overall environment, the sense of collaboration, is critical to my research. Success definitely depends on experts in a variety of disciplines working together,” Shukla said.