TAMEST 2022 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards
Mapping and altering coronavirus spike proteins to create COVID-19 vaccines. Utilizing polymers to provide degradable and reusable solutions for organic batteries and energy storage. Replicating the brain’s unique capabilities through tunable electronic materials. Integrating digital electronic automation into oil and gas wellbores to provide faster and safer drilling at depths never seen before.
These are the discoveries by Texas’ rising stars in research being honored with the 2022 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards by TAMEST (The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas):
- Medicine: Jason McLellan, Ph.D., The University of Texas at Austin
- Engineering: Jodie L. Lutkenhaus, Ph.D., Texas A&M University
- Science: Sarbajit Banerjee, Ph.D., Texas A&M University
- Technology Innovation: Ashers Partouche, Schlumberger Limited
“Texas is at the forefront of innovation thanks to the incredible discoveries by researchers such as these,” said David E. Daniel, Ph.D. (NAE), TAMEST Board President. “The TAMEST Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards highlight the groundbreaking research taking place in Texas, and TAMEST is proud and grateful to highlight their transformational work and honor the impacts it will have on our state and communities.”
The recipients will be honored at the 2022 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards Ceremony on Monday, June 20, 2022, and will give presentations on their 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.
Learn more about our 2022 O’Donnell Awards recipients:
“By discovering ways to stabilize the spike protein, the part of the coronavirus capable of infecting cells, Dr. McLellan’s work uncovered a critical invention that helps to create a strong antibody response to the coronavirus. Once the map is created, Dr. McLellan’s team can rationally determine changes to the virus molecule to create a vaccine not normally found in nature. The implications his research has for the future of vaccines is simply stunning, with applications for a wide range of deadly viruses threatening people around the globe.”
Nancy A. Moran, Ph.D. (NAS), Warren J. and Viola Mae Raymer Chair Professor, Integrative Biology, The University of Texas at Austin
Jason McLellan, Ph.D.
UT Austin structural biologist Jason McLellan, Ph.D., is the recipient of the 2022 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Medicine from TAMEST (The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas). He was chosen for his breakthrough research in mapping, modifying, and stabilizing coronavirus spike proteins, which paved the way for the creation of leading COVID-19 vaccines.
Dr. McLellan, Welch Chair in Chemistry and Professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, has been working on coronaviruses since 2013.
His team of structural biologists created the first three-dimensional structure of the coronavirus spike protein, a shape-shifting protein that allows the virus to enter and infect human cells. This blueprint of the protein enabled McLellan and his researchers to modify the spike and help stabilize it in a form that is optimal for use in vaccines.
His research laid the groundwork for vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax. They all utilized his spike protein discovery in their efforts to create and distribute life-saving vaccines.
“Imagine a battery you never have to throw away, one that does not depend on precious metals to work, and charges more efficiently than conventional methods. This rapid charging technology could dramatically change the way batteries are developed and how things – like electric vehicles – are used today. We are just astounded at the ingenuity and innovation Dr. Lutkenhaus shows on a daily basis and are thankful to have her leadership here at Texas A&M mentoring the next generation of groundbreaking researchers.”
Mark A. Barteau, Ph.D. (NAE), Professor of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, Texas A&M University
Jodie L. Lutkenhaus, Ph.D.
Dr. Jodie L. Lutkenhaus, professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, is the recipient of the 2022 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Engineering from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST). She was chosen for her innovation and development of redox active polymers for metal-free energy storage and smart coatings.
By developing new molecular-scale characterization methods, Lutkenhaus discovered fundamental connections among polymer dynamics, properties and performance. Specifically, through the use of an electrochemical quartz crystal microbalance with a dissipation monitoring device, she developed new ways to closely observe the response of polymers in some of the most challenging environments. In 2021, she and her collaborator TAMEST Member Karen Wooley, Ph.D. (NAS), Texas A&M University demonstrated the world’s first degradable peptide battery.
These types of discoveries have led to new designs for metal-free organic batteries that will address society’s needs for materials that are earth-abundant and recyclable or degradable. Her concept of a 100-percent polymer battery, which would steer battery production away from cobalt and other precious metals, has the potential to charge and discharge much faster than traditional versions.
“Dr. Banerjee is an outstanding young chemist who has developed a variety of metastable compounds that promise to revolutionize several cutting-edge technologies. 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.”
George M. Pharr, Ph.D. (NAE), Erle Nye ’59 Chair I, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Texas A&M University
Sarbajit Banerjee, Ph.D.
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 (The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas). 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.
“His innovation enables the energy industry to be more efficient and effective in producing energy to meet growing world demand. It’s incredibly rare in this industry to have someone work on a project of this scale from concept to practice, but Mr. Partouche is the visionary who made it happen.”
Oliver Mullins, Ph.D. (NAE), Schlumberger Fellow, Schlumberger Limited
Schlumberger Inventor Ashers Partouche is the recipient of the 2022 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Technology Innovation from TAMEST (The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas). He was chosen for the wellbore formation testing technology platform he helped develop, Ora, which is in use globally in the energy industry.
Mr. Ashers Partouche has been the program manager for the Ora Intelligent Wireline Formation Testing platform within Schlumberger’s R&D organization since 2015 and the lead probe designer since 2012. His innovations in developing and designing unique technology for wellbore formation testing have provided the industry with critical data used for establishing the basis for economic and engineering decisions in the field.
Mr. Partouche has also included digital electronics and automation in his design which has improved the efficiency of fluid sampling and pressure measurements to allow for better and faster collection of data. Since the Ora platform was implemented successfully in the field in 2019, the technology has been applied in 93 wells in 13 countries across five continents by 23 oil and gas companies.