roopali kukreja department energy early career award uc davis materials science engineering
Photo: Reeta Asmai/UC Davis.

Roopali Kukreja wins DOE Early Career Award

Materials science and engineering assistant professor Roopali Kukreja has received a prestigious Early Career Award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The DOE early career award, now in their 12th year, recognize and support the research of early-career outstanding scientists and engineers in the U.S. The award provides graduate student support, summer salary and research expenses intended to last five years.

Kukreja is one of 83 researchers to receive the award this year and one of two in the College of Engineering, joining computer science assistant professor Aditya Thakur. Kukreja is the fifth College of Engineering faculty member to receive this award, including her colleague, Professor Ricardo Castro.

“It is a great honor to receive this award, and I am very excited about building a research group focused on understanding fluctuations and nanoscale phenomenon in quantum materials,” she said.

Kukreja’s award-winning project aims to study the electronic, magnetic and structural properties of quantum materials at an atomic scale and over extremely fast timescales. Quantum materials have promise for energy-efficient computing application, but quantum behavior occurs at atomic lengthscales, which makes it challenging to study.

To solve this problem, her team plans to use new and advanced x-ray techniques at DOE facilities like the National Synchrotron Light Source II, Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) and LCLS II, Advanced Photon Source and Advanced Light Source to study these materials.

The project builds on Kukreja’s expertise in studying how the properties of materials change on ultrafast time scales (~1x10⁻¹⁵ seconds) in response to external stimuli such as temperature, voltage and lasers. Understanding how magnetic and electronic behavior of quantum materials change is the first step toward controlling them for use in future high-efficiency high-performance computers.

She received her B.Tech in metallurgical engineering and materials science from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Stanford University and completed postdoctoral work at UC San Diego.

She joined UC Davis in 2016 as the first hire of the then-newly-formed Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Since then, she has received an Air Force Office of Science and Research Young Investigator Research grant in 2018 and the American Physical Society (APS)’s Magnetism Outreach Activities Award in 2020.

Learn more about the Kukreja group.

Learn more about the award.

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