Aaron Shukla was born and raised in Lucknow, India, a state capital in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. With forebears in medicine, he was keen on a medical career. As an undergraduate in Lucknow University, he also became interested in geology, mineralogy, and crystallography, and thus pursued both majors.
He arrived in the United States in 1974, earning a master’s degree in geology from Princeton University in New Jersey, and a doctorate in 1980 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York State. Subsequently, he worked as a senior geologist for Texaco in Houston, TX. While there, his work interests included geochemistry, mineralogy, and using polarized light and electron beams to interpret changes in petroleum rocks and sediments that produce pore spaces in which oil and gas can accumulate. He was particularly interested in using optics and light phenomena for mineralogy.
But, the embers of medical interests continued to smolder!
In 1996, he graduated with honors from Portland Community College, Portland, OR, earning an associate of applied science degree in ophthalmic medical technology. From there he started on the long road to acquiring experiences and expertise as a COT, then as a COMT, in clinic and surgery. Of particular interest were optics, strabismus, visual fields, neuro-ophthalmology, and pediatric ophthalmology.
In 2000, Dr. Shukla joined the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), Little Rock, AR. As an assistant professor at UAMS, he was the founding chairman of the Department of Ophthalmic Technologies and its technologist-level education program for the College of Health Related Professions and The Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute of the Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine. The technologist program earned its initial accreditation in 2004 and is continuing with great success. The graduates of that program became the first COMTs in Arkansas.
Successes in Arkansas brought opportunities, and in 2004, Dr. Shukla joined the Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology (JCAHPO) as its founding director of program and services. At JCAHPO, he was instrumental in developing the Learning Systems, the interactive DVD for ophthalmic medical personnel (OMP) interested in learning keratometry, tonometry, lensometry, visual fields, ocular motility, retinoscopy, and refinement. These modules are also of critical use in preparing for JCAHPO’s COT Skill Test for certification.
In 2005, he joined Eye Care Associates, P.A., Minneapolis, MN, as its director of education, while also providing services as a COMT.
In 2006, Dr. Shukla joined St. Catherine University as an associate professor and founding program director of the Ophthalmic Technician Program—a technician-level education program.
Dr. Shukla has been a volunteer faculty member for JCAHPO and Association of Technical Personnel in Ophthalmology (ATPO) since 1996, giving lectures and workshops at annual and regional meetings, and he has published articles on optics, clinical work, and various tests and procedures. He continues to be active with JCAHPO and ATPO, and was elected ATPO’s vice president in 2007. He will assume responsibilities as its president in 2009, and immediate past president in 2010.