Three members of the College of Science are among the 24 Texas A&M University faculty and staff being honored this year by the university and The Association of Former Students with 2022 Distinguished Achievement Awards.
The awards, announced via a Friday (Mar. 25) campus-wide email from Texas A&M Faculty Affairs, and their respective recipients from Texas A&M Science are as follows:
Teaching (10 given university-wide)
- Dr. Daniel Collins, Senior Lecturer, Chemistry
- Dr. Jennifer Whitfield ’00, Instructional Associate Professor, Mathematics
Graduate Mentoring (2 given university-wide)
- Dr. Sarbajit Banerjee, Professor, Chemistry
For more than six decades, Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students have recognized the most deserving faculty and staff members with university-level Distinguished Achievement Awards. First presented in 1955, they have since been awarded to 1,160 professionals (including this year’s recipients) who have exhibited the highest standards of excellence at Texas A&M in the categories of teaching, research, student relations, graduate mentoring, administration, staff, and extension/outreach/continuing education/professional development.
Recipients are chosen via a rigorous selection process by a campus-wide committee composed of faculty, staff, students, and former students. The award serves as tangible testimony to the esteem in which colleagues hold each recipient.
In recognition of their achievements, honorees will receive a cash gift, an engraved watch and a commemorative plaque. They will be honored at a 2022 Distinguished Achievement Awards ceremony to be held later this spring.
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Brief biographies on each recipient in relation to the honor appear below:
Dr. Daniel Collins earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Dayton and a doctorate from the University of South Carolina. Since joining the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry as a lecturer in 2015, he has taught in the First Year Program, organic chemistry service courses and Hullabaloo U First-Year Experience courses. He has served as an instructor to more than 8,600 undergraduate students, mentored in excess of 50 undergraduate students in the Hullabaloo U program and has been a critical part of the department’s mission on outreach and service. Collins has been a member of the Faculty Senate, the APT Faculty Committee, Aggie Honor Council, University Discipline Appeals and Academic Appeals Panels and the College of Science Dean’s Advisory Council. He has also judged numerous science fairs and competitions, including the Texas Junior Science and Humanities Symposium and Texas Junior Academy of Science and, more recently, the Texas Science and Engineering Fair. Collins also assists with the Department of Energy National Science Bowl regional and national competitions. His other outreach activities include helping with the Chemistry Roadshow and being the departmental mole mascot. In honor of those wide-reaching contributions, Collins has been recognized with the 2021 Texas A&M Association of Former Students College-Level Teaching Award, the 2020 McGraw-Hill ALEKS All-Star Educator of the Year Award and the 2019 Texas A&M Honoring Excellence Award. He also was honored as a 2019 Fish Camp namesake.
Jennifer Whitfield ’00
Dr. Jennifer G. Whitfield ’00 earned a bachelor’s degree from the Colorado College as well as both a master’s and a doctorate from Texas A&M. She joined the Texas A&M Department of Mathematics faculty in 2001 and recently earned promotion to instructional professor, effective August 1. Prior to her employment at Texas A&M, Whitfield was a mathematics teacher at both College Station and Bryan High Schools. She has impacted the lives of tens of thousands of Texas A&M STEM students during that 20 years of service, including as a director of the Texas A&M STEM Teacher Preparation Academy and as program manager for aggieTEACH. Her expertise in calculus, ability to effectively communicate mathematics, devotion to students, ability to engage a large student audience and long-standing reputation for excellent teaching all contributed to Whitfield previously receiving a 2021 Texas A&M Association of Former Students College-Level Teaching Award. Mentoring and course development have been two other pillars of Whitfield’s efforts. She is a previous winner of the Koldus Award in Mentoring and a 2013-2014 member of the Chancellor’s Academy of Teacher Educators. Whitfield has secured numerous grants in the last five years, including four grants through the National Science Foundation. Her active research program has brought in more than $6 million in external grants, including several awards related to course development.
Dr. Sarbajit Banerjee earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Stephen’s College and a doctorate in chemistry from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He joined the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry faculty in 2014, where he is a Davidson Chair in Science, an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Texas A&M Energy Institute and a Chancellor’s EDGES Fellow. Prior to coming to Texas A&M, Banerjee was a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University before he started his independent career at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2007. His research accomplishments have been recognized numerous times, including with the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Beilby Medal and Prize in 2016. Connected to his graduate mentoring efforts, Banerjee received the Texas Section of the American Physical Society’s 2018 Robert Hyer Graduate Mentor Award, a 2019 Texas A&M College of Science Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award, a 2021 Texas A&M Science Leadership in Equity and Diversity Award and the American Chemical Society’s 2021 Stanley C. Israel Southwest Regional Award for Advancing Diversity in the Chemical Sciences. He was honored as a Fish Camp namesake in 2021. A fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Physics, Banerjee has published more than 210 articles — work that has been cited in excess of 12,000 times — and holds seven issued U.S. patents that have been licensed to three companies.
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About Texas A&M University: Texas A&M University is a community of scholars dedicated to solving diverse, real-world problems through determination and innovation. Texas A&M opened its doors in 1876 as the state’s first public institution of higher education and is today a tier-one research institution holding the elite triple land-, sea- and space-grant designations. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $1 billion in fiscal year 2020. Texas A&M’s nearly 73,000 students and more than half a million former students are known for their commitment to service, as well as dedication to the university’s core values and rich traditions.
Contact: Shana Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or [email protected]