Srikanth Pilla of Clemson University is receiving the Outstanding Young Scientist Award from the BioEnvironmental Polymer Society.

Pilla, an assistant professor of automotive engineering, was set to accept the award  at the society’s 24th annual meeting in Albany, California. His labs and offices are at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville.

Nominees were evaluated based on “significant contributions to scientific advancement that demonstrated outstanding ability and scholarly accomplishments in scientific research in the field of biopolymers, biobased materials, or bioplastic/materials-related bioenergy systems,” according to the society.

Srikanth Pilla, right, receives the Outstanding Young Scientist award.

Srikanth Pilla, right, receives the Outstanding Young Scientist Award.

Zoran Filipi, chair of the Department of Automotive Engineering, congratulated Pilla on the award.

“This honor solidifies Dr. Pilla as one of the top performers in the field of renewable materials,” Filipi said. “The award is well-deserved and serves as a testament to the level of scholarship he brings to the department and CU-ICAR, as well as the impact of his research.”

Pilla’s other awards and honors include: the SAE Foundation Young Industry Leadership Award, Dean’s Faculty Fellow, the Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, the Forest R. McFarland Award, the Technical Program Chair Award, and the Robert J. Hocken Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award.

He is the principal investigator on a $5.81-million award from the Department of Energy, which is focused on creating fuel-saving, ultra-light doors. Pilla is the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on more than $11.5 million in grants.

Pilla is a significant contributor to the field of renewable materials, attaining international recognition for his innovation in the area of biofoams, or foamed bioplastics.

Pilla has proposed for the first time a new research paradigm in sustainability.

“This concept is inspired by the industry 4.0, which refers to the fourth industrial revolution,” Pilla said. “Similar to that concept, Sustainability 4.0 is the fourth-generation research phase in the field of renewable materials that are derived from non-food based biological resources such as carbon dioxide, waste rendered proteins, woody biomass, etcetera.

“We are already doing that using our nearly $1-million in research grants from the USDA and US Endowment. With these projects, we aim to create the very first nanocellulosic automotive components with enhanced strength, stiffness and toughness.”