Michael Thackeray was born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1949. He was educated at Waterkloof House Preparatory School (WHPS), Michaelhouse high school, and the University of Cape Town where, in 1977, he received his PhD degree in Chemistry.
Thackeray is a materials chemist who has contributed to advancing battery science and technology over a lifelong career at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa (1973-1993) and at Argonne National Laboratory in the United States (1994-), where he is currently an Argonne Emeritus Scientist and Distinguished Fellow. His research studies and understanding of structure-electrochemical relationships have led to the discovery, design and development of new or improved electrode materials for lithium-ion batteries that now command a multi-billion dollar industry. He is Honorary Chairman of the International Battery Association (IBA), serving as President (1999-2002), Chairman (2015-2017) and a Board member for more than 25 years. He served as Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC), the Center for Electrical Energy Storage (CEES-I, 2009-2014), and as Deputy Director of the renewed Center, the Center for Electrochemical Energy Science (CEES-II, 2014-2018). Thackeray is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the Electrochemical Society (USA) and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study in South Africa. He has presented the results of his research widely across the globe, and he has been the recipient of several notable awards and honours.