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Outstanding Faculty Awards

Shiv Khanna

Professor of Physics
Virginia Commonwealth University

Shiv N. Khanna is a Commonwealth Professor of Physics at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). He joined VCU in 1984 after completing his Ph.D. in India and post-doctoral research in Grenoble, France and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. He served as Chair of the Physics Department from 1995 to 1998.

Dr. Khanna is internationally recognized for his work on clusters (groups containing few atoms) and nanoscale materials. One of his significant contributions is the discovery of “superatoms” where he and co-workers determined that selected clusters can take on the chemical behavior of atoms in the periodic table and that materials with novel characteristics could be developed using such clusters, named “superatoms,” as building blocks. They proposed that the conventional periodic table of elements that has remained at the heart of chemistry and material science for nearly a century may finally need modification with “superatoms” forming a third dimension. These developments have opened a pathway to novel nano-materials, and have been featured in more than 200 reports by various news agencies, including Chemical & Engineering News, Scientific American, Nature, Science, and New Scientist.

Dr. Khanna has contributed more than 250 publications in refereed journals, including Science and Nature Chemistry, and has edited six monographs. These publications have been cited more than 6,000 times. Dr. Khanna has delivered more than 100 lectures at national and international conferences, universities, and industry gatherings. To support his vibrant research group of several post-doctoral, Ph.D. /M.S., and undergraduate students, he has participated in more than 20 research projects with total grant funding of over $20 million.

Dr. Khanna is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has twice been the recipient of the Distinguished Scholar Award from the College of Humanities and Sciences at VCU and has been the recipient of the University Distinguished Scholarship Award.

Dr. Khanna loves to share his excitement with students as he integrates the latest research ideas and thinking to nurture new ideas and inquisitiveness in his classes. His teaching inspires creative thinking, learning in groups, and building ideas through mutual discussions.

View Nomination Packet

Shiv Khanna


"It is [at VCU] that I have realized my ultimate dream of integrating the two ambitions that shaped my early life. The first one was to become a scientist, to understand the mystery behind this existence, to be able to contribute to this understanding, and to be able to use this knowledge to shape things. The second dream was to become a successful professor who inspires and shapes the lives of young students."