Dr. Srikumar Banerjee, nominated for the Robert Cahn Award 2016

As publisher of the Journal of Nuclear Materials and of the NuMAT conference series, it is my pleasure to announce that the Robert Cahn Award 2016 has been attributed to Dr. Srikumar Banerjee, Homi Bhabha Chair Professor at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai, India.

Dr. Srikumar Banerjee started his career in the Metallurgy Division of the BARC in 1968. He later became scientific officer at the Centre, then Head of the Metallurgy Division in 1990, and being Director of the Materials Group at BARC, he became Director of the whole Centre over the period 2004–2010. BARC is the cradle of India’s nuclear energy programme, with about 16000 employees and over 4000 scientists and engineers. From November 2009 to April 2012, he was the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, & Secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India. He is also currently Chancellor of the Central University of Kashmir and Chancellor of the Homi Bhabha National Institute of the Department of Atomic Energy.

Dr. Banerjee’s research spans a very large range of fundamental and applied aspects of materials science & engineering, with a particular emphasis on materials that have found application in the generation of nuclear power. His early work was centered around phase transformations and in zirconium alloys and the relationship between structure and mechanical properties of these alloys, which have had a very strong impact on the field of materials for nuclear power generation in India and beyond. His seminal work in the areas of transformation and their application to the industrial fabrication of nuclear reactor components was recognized by The William J. Kroll Zirconium Medal of ASTM International in 2013 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of Physical Metallurgy of Zirconium Alloys.

He then made major contributions to the understanding of radiation damage in a range of structural materials, with an emphasis on order – disorder transformations, on the precipitation mechanisms in various Ni-, Zr-, Ti- and Al-based alloys. He is currently examining the materials challenges for implementing innovative fuel cycles (e.g. Th-based fuels) as well as problems related to materials for nuclear fusion reactors.

In addition to his career in India, Dr Banerjee has held a number of Visiting Fellowships of Professorships. First and foremost, he worked for a year at the University of Sussex where he was mentored by Prof. Robert Cahn himself. They collaborated on a number of studies, and Prof. Cahn inspired Dr Banerjee to write the book entitled ?Phase Transformations: Examples from Titanium and Zirconium Alloys, which was published in the Pergamon Material Series edited by Prof. Cahn. The book was dedicated to the memory of Prof. Robert W. Cahn.

Dr Banerjee also had Alexander von Humboldt Fellowships to visit the Max-Planck Institut für Metalforschung in Stuttgart, KFA Forschcungszentrum in Jülich. He has also been a Visiting Faculty at the Ohio State University in the USA.

The Robert Cahn Award recognises an outstanding scientist with an ability to break down barriers between disciplines and people. This is clearly demonstrated by Dr Banerjee’s track record, highlighting his work across scientific silos with a strong dedication to engage with the international community.

The last criterion for the Robert Cahn Award is an ability to communicate science to a broad audience, and beyond his extensive lecturing of material sciences and nuclear energy to undergraduates students to senior researchers and faculty, in his roles as Director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and with the Indian Government, Dr. Banerjee interfaced with parliamentarians, policy makers, planning commission members, but also the press and the general public. His dedication to education also transpires in his efforts to set up institutions such as the Homi Bhabha National Institute, National Institute of Science Education and Research and which has an emphasis on interdisciplinary studies.

Here is a selection of articles from Dr Banerjee’s research that we are providing for free for the next 6 months: