FACULTY LEAD: Dr. Maria Mitkova
“You don’t understand a course at the same level if you only teach it. By doing research in your field, you grasp concepts at a deeper level, and you bring that into the classroom.”
– Dr. John Chiasson, Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Materials science researcher Dr. Maria Mitkova is an internationally recognized expert in amorphous materials called chalcogenide glasses. Her research holds promise for creating the next generation of non-volatile memory for cell phones and hand-held devices, memory that consumes less power by switching off and on as needed.
Micron Technology has licensed this type of memory, and Mitkova came to Boise State in 2006 both to consult with the Boise-based tech company and to train current and future engineers.
Mitkova also established the Nano-Ionic Materials and Device Laboratory at Boise State, where her research team is investigating a new type of reusable nuclear radiation sensor that can give real-time readouts. The capacity of the sensor to immediately warn people if radiation is present is a new edge in the industry, and her team holds a patent on this technology.
In addition to earning scholarly awards for her research and creative activity, and landing a number of research grants, Mitkova earned the Associated Students of Boise State University’s coveted Golden Apple Award for inspiring and encouraging students in the classroom. For her research she also has been named a Boise State Foundation Scholar for the 2015 year.
“I have students on my research team who worked for me as undergraduates who are now in our graduate program, and they have been integral to our success,” she said. “I think the most important part of the graduate school, and especially the Ph.D. program, is that it teaches students how to investigate, how to go about something that is unknown to them and really push the edges of what we know.”
A number of Mitkova’s Ph.D. graduates are making significant contributions in the field. Mahesh Ailavajhala had more than 16 publications related to his Ph.D. research in the area of radiation sensors and now works at Northrop Grumman in Virginia developing devices for the military. Muhammad Rizwan Latif created a new structure of material that makes memory faster and improves the performance of electronic devices. He now works at ON Semiconductors in Pocatello.
A number of graduates have gone on to work for Micron Technology or Hewlett-Packard Inc., two recent graduates were hired by Apple in Silicon Valley, and three graduates are now faculty members at universities.
“The successes of our graduates speak volumes for our program,” Chiasson said.