2009 Distinguished achievement award: Samit Bhattacharyya

// Engineering Physics

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Samit Kumar Bhattacharyya
Director
Savannah River National Laboratory
MSNE ’70, PhDNE ’73
Aiken, South Carolina

Samit K. Bhattacharyya is director of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Savannah River National Laboratory, operated by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions LLC. In this position, he is responsible for the management, operations and planned growth of the laboratory.

Bhattacharyya received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur, India, and earned master’s and doctoral degrees in nuclear engineering from UW-Madison in 1970 and 1973, respectively. He has been active in all aspects of nuclear technology, including 19 years in executive leadership positions at Argonne National Laboratory, culminating in a five-year term as director of the Argonne technology development division. The division was a diversified organization with several technical programs, including advanced reactors, nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear fusion, and nuclear fuel-cycle assessments. One of Bhattacharyya’s major accomplishments was developing several significant new R&D programs for the laboratory.

Bhattacharyya’s technical credentials include a 29-year career at Argonne, where he rose to the position of senior nuclear engineer. He has achieved international recognition for his technical work in advanced nuclear power systems for terrestrial and space applications. With more than 200 publications, he has been published widely and has participated in national and international conferences.

Bhattacharyya has won a number of awards for his work, including the University of Chicago Distinguished Service Award and the Argonne National Laboratory Director’s Award. He also was a principal in the DOE-EM-sponsored Large Scale D&D Technology Demonstration Project on the CP-5 reactor. The DOE recognized the project as one of its top-100 scientific achievements in the 20th century.

After leaving Argonne, Bhattacharyya created his own technical and management services company, RENMAR Enterprises Inc., which had a broad portfolio of private-sector and government clients. A highlight was his nuclear leadership of the nuclear electric propulsion probe proposed by the Northrop Grumman-led team for Project Promethous — exploring the icy moon of Jupiter — for NASA.

Bhattacharyya serves on a number of technical, corporate and civic boards. He is a fellow of the American Nuclear Society and has served on several DOE, U.S. Department of Defense, and NASA advisory boards. In addition to his engineering degrees, Bhattacharyya also earned a master’s in business administration from the University of Chicago and is a registered professional engineer.

As a student in Madison, Bhattacharyya met his wife, Maryka, then a biochemistry doctoral student and now professor of medicine at the Medical College of Georgia. The couple married in 1971 and have a son, Roby, who holds an MD and PhD from the University of California at San Francisco and currently is a resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital. In his spare time, Bhattacharyya enjoys playing tennis and traveling.