2022 O’Donnell Award in Science: Sarbajit Banerjee, Ph.D.

Texas A&M Chemist Recognized for Paving the Way Toward Artificial Intelligence and Energy Conversion

Sarbajit Banerjee, Ph.D., Davidson Chair in Science and Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science & Engineering, Texas A&M University is the recipient of the 2022 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Science from TAMEST. He was chosen for his utilization of solid-state chemistry and materials science to impact the future of new technologies in energy conversion, energy storage, computing and even artificial intelligence.

Dr. Banerjee’s work focuses on the interplay of atomistic structure and electronic structure. He has developed an impressive set of predictive design rules for identifying viable metastable compounds, established a powerful toolbox of chemical methods for synthesizing new structures that greatly expanded the current fundamental understanding of his field, and explored how unusual structural motifs manifested in these compounds can be harnessed to realize new functions.

Just by tweaking the kind of bonding that goes on and where the electrons reside, Dr. Banerjee’s team found you can get entirely new forms of matter and can gain completely new functions when a polymorph is switched for another. In his quest to develop new modes of energy efficient computing, Banerjee’s group capitalized on materials with tunable electronic instabilities to achieve what’s known as neuromorphic computing, or computing designed to replicate the brain’s unique capabilities and unmatched efficiencies.

“Dr. Banerjee is an outstanding young chemist who has developed a variety of metastable compounds that promise to revolutionize several cutting-edge technologies,” said Nominator George M. Pharr, Ph.D. (NAE), Erle Nye ’59 Chair I, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Texas A&M University. “His work established that composition does not limit structure, rather structure can often be controlled independently from composition. He is also just a wonderful person who is always there to help guide his students.”

Dr. Banerjee is one of four Texas-based researchers receiving the TAMEST 2022 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards. Each are chosen for their individual contributions addressing the essential role that science and technology play in society, and whose work meets the highest standards of exemplary professional performance, creativity and resourcefulness.

“By imitating the way the human brain solves everyday problems, neuromorphic systems have tremendous potential to innovate big data analysis and solve pattern recognition problems that are a struggle for current digital technologies,” said David E. Daniel, Ph.D. (NAE), 2022 TAMEST Board President. “We are honored to award Dr. Banerjee with the 2022 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Science for these truly amazing discoveries.”

Dr. Banerjee will be recognized at the 2022 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards Ceremony on Monday, June 20, 2022, and will give a presentation on his research preceding the award ceremony at the TAMEST 2022 Annual Conference, Forward Texas – Imperatives for Health in San Antonio, Texas at the Westin Riverwalk Hotel.

All are encouraged to attend the ceremony and the TAMEST Conference.

About the O’Donnell Awards:

The Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards annually recognize rising Texas researchers who are addressing the essential role that science and technology play in society, and whose work meets the highest standards of exemplary professional performance, creativity and resourcefulness.

Over $1 million has been awarded to more than 60 recipients in the categories of medicine, engineering, science and technology innovation since the inception of the O’Donnell Awards in 2006. Fifteen O’Donnell Awards Recipients have gone on to be elected to the National Academies, including four in the last two years.


TAMEST was co-founded in 2004 by the Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison and Nobel Laureates Michael S. Brown, M.D. and Richard E. Smalley, Ph.D. With more than 325 members and 16 member institutions, TAMEST is composed of the Texas-based members of the three National Academies (National Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences), the Royal Society and the state’s 10 Nobel Laureates. We bring together the state’s brightest minds in medicine, engineering, science and technology to foster collaboration, and to advance research, innovation and business in Texas.

TAMEST’s unique interdisciplinary model has become an effective recruitment tool for top research and development centers across Texas. Since our founding, more than 260 TAMEST members have been inducted into the National Academies or relocated to Texas.

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