Viral Shukla's Research Profile

Viral Shukla

Expected Graduation: Class of 2020

Major: Food Science and Technology

Minor: Culinology, Hospitality Management, and Music

Mentor: Dr. Gabriel Davidov-Pardo

“No matter what major or year you are, you can be successful in research.” – Viral Shukla

Viral Shukla is currently working on research at the Human Nutrition and Food Science Laboratory under the guidance of Dr. Davidov-Pardo on research pertaining to Benjamin Steiner Master's thesis titled Encapsulation of Lutein in Multilayered Nanoemulsions Stabilized by Grape Polyphenolic Extracts and Maillard Conjugates. Because he was able to start his research experience during his freshman year through the Achieve Scholar's Program, Viral has acquired the necessary skills and experience in handling several lab equipment and specialized research machinery such as high-pressure homogenizers, photo spectrometers, and zetasizers.

Viral’s first research project started during high school in his biology class when he was studying the "effect[s] of electrical fields in algae growth." This particular topic inspired him and sparked his interest in research. Coming to Cal Poly Pomona, Viral knew he wanted to pursue the path of research but was unsure when or how he should get started. During fall of his freshman year, Viral was enrolled in an intro to food science course when Dr. Davidov-Pardo offered him a position in his lab for the winter quarter. Viral showed no hesitation and quickly began to work with Ben Steiner on Ben's thesis work under the supervision of Dr. Davidov-Pardo.

Throughout the research process, Viral has had two different mentors. The first is Joseph Wolf, an Achieve Scholar's mentor, who aided him in learning the how to balance being a student and researcher. His other mentor, Ben Steiner, showed him the ins-and-outs of everyday lab work by training and guiding him throughout the research process.

Since getting involved with research, there have been several small but important struggles that Viral has overcome to be the researcher he is today. He shared that "the biggest [obstacle] is knowing that your time bends to the experiment not the other way around: you have to wait for each process step to finish before you can even collect data. This can range from six minutes to six hours. In one case I had to come back on a Saturday because the machine took exactly twenty-four hours to complete. When researching, you have to start early in the day and stick to your schedule so you can collect most results during the day. Patience is key whether the results are what you want them to be or not, and keep going.”

Viral plans on doing post graduate work and possibly doctoral research in food science and technology. Whatever path Viral takes, the skills and the experience he has gained doing research with his mentors have prepared him for a bright future.

In addition to doing research, Viral is a competing member of Cal Poly Pomona's Institute of Food Technologists College Bowl team and Kitchen Manager of the Food Science Society as well as an involved member of Alpha Lambda Delta - the National Freshman Honor Society, Assistant Director of Bronco Pep Band, Recording Secretary and Scheduler of Kappa Kappa Psi - a National Honorary Band Fraternity, and Concert Band Librarian in the Music Department.

Viral has advice for students out there that are thinking of doing research: “no matter what major or year you are, you can be successful in research. Do not worry about working in your department alone. There are plenty of opportunities if you look. Research is rewarding and [an] enriching experience.”

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