Building a Legacy of Excellence: Gadhamshetty reflects on his NSF CAREER Award

Dr. Venkataramana Gadhamshetty holds a vial containing a piece of metal covered in an ultra-thin coating that makes it resistant to corrosion. This is one of the achievements that has evolved from his 2015 National Science Foundation CAREER award.

In 2015, Venkata Gadhamshetty, Ph.D., achieved a level of success known by a relatively small number of researchers when he landed a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award. Five years later, the hard work of Gadhamshetty and his collaborators is paying off with about $34 million in funded research across multiple fields. 

The goal of the NSF CAREER program is to empower early career scientists to open doors to entirely new directions of research. Gadhamshetty’s work involves emerging classes of materials that can aid in everything from building ultralight vehicles, to protective coatings for metals, to new ways to harness and store energy from the natural world and more. His research on generating electricity from defective tomatoes brought acclaim from the History Channel and worldwide media attention. 

One of his main goals is to better understand how microbes interact with matter on the atomic level and how this understanding could aid engineering applications. “These are questions that could engage thousands of people in this research for years to come,” he says. As in all scientific research, the hardest part isn’t necessarily finding answers; it’s about finding the right questions. “But to even build the proper question can take years of research and will require a lot of patience,” says Gadhamshetty. 

That patience is yielding results. Gadhamshetty credits the success of the multiple areas of research evolving from his original CAREER award, including a microbial power system for space missions and two dimensional materials for biofilm engineering, science and technology, to a team of graduate students including Namita Shrestha, Ph.D., and Govinda Chilkoor, Ph.D., as well as fellow research scientists who contributed to its success.

Gadhamshetty also emphasizes the importance of emotional intelligence in individual team members that contributes to the success of any effort. 

“Success in science is about the hard work of many people who are often not properly recognized. I want to thank previous graduate students for playing pivotal roles in building the success of research at South Dakota Mines. It’s really a collaborative effort,” he says.  

Gadhamshetty is one of the leading researchers contributing to the new South Dakota Biofilm Science and Engineering Center at Mines. In the years to come, this center is likely to produce research that leads to startup companies and additional high-tech jobs in the area. 


Last edited 9/1/2020 5:05:06 PM

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