Shonit Nair Sharma Named Student Speaker for Engineering Commencement

By Bonnie Dickson

DAVIS, Calif., June 8, 2018 – Shonit Nair Sharma, a biomedical engineering senior, will deliver the student address at the College of Engineering’s spring commencement on June 17.

“I am humbled to share and commemorate the successes of the graduating engineering class,” Shonit says. “It means a lot to me to have this special platform to talk about some of the experiences we’ve had as a collective group of unique individuals.”

shonit nair sharma uc davis

Shonit Nair Sharma Photo: Reeta Asmai/UC Davis

Like many future engineers, Shonit excelled in math, science and brainteasers as a child. However, when Shonit was 10 years old, he received the first brainteaser he could not conquer – a Rubik’s Cube. After weeks of unsuccessful attempts at cracking the Rubik’s Cube, Shonit finally solved the seemingly impossible puzzle. For Shonit, the experience was his first lesson on the importance of failure and the power of persistence.

“As an engineer and researcher, I see failure as a catalyst for change and an indicator to re-calibrate an experiment,” Shonit says.

During his first year at UC Davis, Shonit joined assistant professor Eduardo Silva’s laboratory where he began to explore the mechanical properties of alginate hydrogels to treat ischemic vascular disease – the restriction of blood flow through the body’s blood vessels and the leading cause of death worldwide. Alginate is a compound found within the cell walls of brown algae.

In addition to having his research published in a leading biomaterials journal, Shonit has presented his research at several local and national conferences and professional meetings. Earlier this year, Shonit delivered an invited plenary lecture at Harvard University’s National Collegiate Research Conference on the use of degradable alginate hydrogels for drug delivery applications. Shonit was one of only 12 students nationwide chosen to deliver a lecture at the conference. His poster also received first place for research in engineering, mathematics or computer science.

Shonit was also one of three undergraduate students to receive the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research this year.

After graduation, Shonit plans to attend medical school and continue his attempt to beat the world record for the fastest person to solve the Rubik’s Cube. In the meantime, Shonit says he is looking forward to taking some “time off.” He’ll spend the summer studying English literature at Oxford and enjoying a country rich in culture and history. 

Related: Tim Bucher, Tech Leader, Entrepreneur and UC Davis Alumnus, to Speak at Engineering Commencement