Tanaya Sahoo with UC Davis sign

International Student Scholar Tanaya Sahoo Forges a Future in Materials Science and Engineering

​Growing up in a "steel city," Rourkela, India, Tanaya Sahoo was steeped in engineering and technology. The city's industrial landscape wasn't just a backdrop; it was a constant reminder of the power of innovation and engineering toward socioeconomic prosperity.

As her father, a civil engineer, navigated the technological complexities of infrastructure in the Rourkela Steel Plant, Sahoo witnessed firsthand how engineering could shape communities and confront challenges head-on. Between the city's prowess in steel production and its impact on environmental preservation, Sahoo found her passion for engineering and developed a strong belief in engineering's ability to bring about positive change.

Sahoo earned a bachelor's degree in metallurgical and materials engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, and is now a second-year materials science and engineering graduate student at the University of California, Davis. Her time at UC Davis, which has focused on magnetism research, combining unique experimental and computational methodologies, has laid the groundwork for her goal to deploy advanced, sustainable technologies to solve real-world problems in materials science.

As Sahoo commenced her graduate program and acclimated to the new environment, she encountered challenges in adjusting to the graduate-level academic curriculum of engineering. Despite initial obstacles, Sahoo received valuable support from her advisor and peers, significantly enhancing her graduate school experience.

"My research peer Dayne Sasaki helped me as I navigated some of my research's major complexities," explained Sahoo. "My advisor, Dr. Yayoi Takamura, has gone above and beyond to support me in grad school. At the end of the day, it was all about not losing perspective no matter how difficult the going got."

Sahoo's internship at Applied Materials Inc. also provided valuable insights into real-world industrial engineering and the application of cutting-edge materials science technologies. Working within the Semiconductor Process Group, she automated process engineering projects, gaining hands-on experience with advanced systems unique to the industry.

Tanaya Sahoo with award

In March 2024, Sahoo presented research on the magnetic domains of patterned micromagnets at the American Physical Society annual meeting. Furthermore, she was recognized by the APS Division of Materials Physics with one of 20 Ovshinsky Student Travel Awards, which recognizes her exceptional work in physics and materials science.

"The award also recognizes a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within the scientific community," Sahoo explained, reflecting on her journey in engineering. "Two years ago, I came in as an international student. Davis was new to me. I traveled miles across a different continent to be here, pursue what I thought was in my best interests, and act on my vision for achieving greater engineering potential. The nature of my research, magnetism, was a cherry on the cake!"

As an international graduate student, Sahoo learned firsthand the importance of building a support system and learning to settle into a new community. She traversed the challenges of graduate school, gradually adapted and gained confidence.

Following graduation this spring, she will start a new journey as a process engineer at Applied Materials Inc. Reflecting on her time at UC Davis, Sahoo has some advice for future international students.

"[I encourage] being brave enough to express your ideas and holding on to a broader vision of making a difference," said Sahoo. "The scientific community at UC Davis is a brilliant mixing pot, so try not to be shy about inquiries and getting advice. Persistence can be transformative and there is no shortcut for hard work. The good thing is that you are given choices, and you can choose to make the best out of them.  

Primary Category