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Dr. Jodie Lutkenhaus is the recipient of the 2022 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Engineering from The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas. | Video: Courtesy of The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas

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.

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. Lutkenhaus is receiving this award alongside Dr. Sarbajit Banerjee, professor in the Department of Chemistry, who is the recipient of the 2022 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Science.

By developing new molecular-scale characterization methods, Lutkenhaus discovered fundamental connections among polymer dynamics, properties and performance. Specifically, through the use of electrochemical quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring, she developed new ways to closely observe the response of polymers in some of the most challenging environments. In 2021, she and her collaborator Dr. Karen Wooley, professor in the Department of Chemistry, demonstrated the world's first biodegradable 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% 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. 

“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,” said nominator Dr. Mark A. Barteau, professor in the chemical engineering department. “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."

Lutkenhaus is one of four Texas-based researchers receiving the TAMEST 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.

“Dr. Lutkenhaus and her team of multidisciplinary researchers are transforming the way we look at the future of batteries and energy storage,” said Dr. David E. Daniel, TAMEST board president. “We are honored to award her with the 2022 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award in Engineering for opening up a whole new metal-free world of powered wearable, implantable electric devices and more. We can’t wait to see what reusable and even sprayable batteries will enter the market in the next 10 years, thanks to her research.” 

Lutkenhaus will be recognized at the 2022 Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards Ceremony on Jan. 12, 2022, and will give a presentation on her research preceding the award ceremony at the TAMEST 2022 Annual Conference, Forward Texas — Imperatives for Health in San Antonio at the Westin Riverwalk Hotel.