2021 O’Donnell Award in Technology Innovation: Christian A. Davies, Ph.D.
Shell Principal Scientist Christian A. Davies, Ph.D., Honored for Research on How Soil and Nature Can Help Reduce Carbon Footprint
HOUSTON – Shell Scientist Christian A. Davies, Ph.D., has been named the recipient of the 2021 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Technology Innovation from TAMEST (The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas). He was chosen for his development of a broad suite of alternative carbon management technologies to reduce emissions for a lower carbon future.
A globally recognized expert in soil carbon bioscience, Dr. Davies serves as the Principal Science Expert for Shell’s Nature Based Solutions team. This team undertakes projects aimed at protecting, transforming and restoring natural ecosystems, such as forests, grasslands and wetlands, while offering carbon neutral energy solutions to a growing number of customers.
Dr. Davies’ method of combining DNA sequencing techniques to analyze microbes in soil with net carbon flux and novel soil carbon measurement technologies are shining light on the role that microbes play in carbon storage in soil, potentially leading to more storage capacity for carbon dioxide (CO2) in soil.
This discovery has led Dr. Davies and his team at Shell to approach the concept of carbon-neutral fuel in a new way. The carbon-neutral fuel accounts for the cost of storing extra carbon in nature and applies it as a credit to offset the use of conventional fossil fuels. The option to drive carbon neutral is currently available to Shell retail fuel customers in the United Kingdom and Netherlands.
“Although there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to the global rise in CO2, Dr. Davies’ work provides technologists a guide to enhance nature’s abilities to store carbon in a way that is sustainable for both the environment and the communities involved in these projects,” said Selda Gunsel, Ph.D. (NAE), Shell’s Vice President of Global Commercial and Fuels Technology. “Nature’s ability to absorb CO2 is truly amazing. There is more carbon in the soil under our feet than there is in the atmosphere and all plant life combined. Dr. Davies’ work to develop the fundamental science behind how we can enhance soil to reduce emissions has set the groundwork for a number of innovative techniques that will help set future energy solutions.”
Dr. Davies is one of four Texas-based scientists receiving the TAMEST 2021 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards 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.
“Dr. Davies and his team have proved that nature-based solutions can play an important role in reducing our overall carbon footprint,” said David E. Daniel, Ph.D. (NAE), 2021 TAMEST Board President. “We are overjoyed that scientists like Dr. Davies and companies like Shell are dedicating their time and resources in Texas to reducing emissions through soil and nature. We are honored to present him with the 2021 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Technology Innovation.”
Dr. Davies was honored at the 2021 O’Donnell Awards virtual ceremony on Wednesday, January 13 at 4 p.m. CT and gave a subsequent virtual talk on his groundbreaking research on March 10, 2021, at 11 a.m. CT. Video of the presentation as well as Dr. Davies’ slides are available below.
2021 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award Recipient Presentation: Technology Innovation
Moderator: Ann Beal Salamone (NAE)
2021 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Technology Innovation Subcommittee Chair
Rochal Industries LLC
Christian A. Davies, Ph.D.
2021 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Technology Innovation Recipient
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 50 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 three in 2020.
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 300 members and 18 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 11 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 225 TAMEST members have been inducted into the National Academies or relocated to Texas.