Student Profile: Gayathri Shivkumar

When you want to achieve success, you learn from the best. That’s why AAE PhD student Gayathri Shivkumar says she chose Purdue.
Purdue AAE PhD student Gayathri Shivkumar
Gayathri Shivkumar at the Birck Nanotechnology Center 

When you want to achieve success, you learn from the best. That’s why AAE PhD student Gayathri Shivkumar says she chose Purdue.

“I always wanted to work in aerospace,” she says. “Purdue has such a rich history in aerospace and the professors and facilities are among the best in the world. So, I applied for grad school and it has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

Purdue PhD student Gayathri Shivkumar
Gayathri Shivkumar mentors students

Shivkumar says one of the biggest advantages to being a student in AAE at Purdue is being at the forefront of creating innovative technology that will shape the 21st century.

Shivkumar’s thesis is on modeling plasma for the cost-efficient and environmentally friendly synthesis of carbon nanomaterials like graphene and nanopetals. She also works on the design and fabrication of a field emission driven low-power microdevice that uses nanopetals to generate microplasma that would pump and heat fuel in microcombustors. Apart from her thesis, she also performs Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and heat transfer research to improve vacuum freeze drying methods for bio/pharmaceutical manufacturing.

“All the microfabrication for my plasma device is done in the cleanroom at Birck Nanotechnology Center and building tiny structures with my own two hands is always a great experience,” she says. “My career goal is to perform research that improves our understanding of the universe and improves life on Earth and in all our future colonies outside Earth.”

Shivkumar also mentors middle and high school women interested in STEM fields, and serves as an ambassador and treasurer for the AAE Graduate Women’s Gathering, a peer mentoring and social group.

“We organize fun social activities like hiking and glass working, but also professional activities such as mentorship for undergrads and faculty lunch panels to discuss careers in aerospace for the female graduate students in AAE,” she says.