CalTech Professor Frances Arnold Wins the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Frances H. Arnold, the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology, has won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. According to the award citation, she is being honored for “the directed evolution of enzymes,” which is a bioengineering method for creating new and better enzymes in the laboratory using the principles of evolution. The enzymes that are created this way have replaced toxic chemicals in many industrial processes and a variety of products.

“Frances’s work on directed evolution is a beautiful example of an enterprise that has both deep scientific significance and enormous practical consequences,” says David A. Tirrell, CalTech’s provost and the Ross McCollum-William H. Corcoran Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. “Through decades of commitment to exploring a powerful idea, Frances has transformed the fields of protein chemistry, catalysis, and biotechnology. She has changed the way we think about things and the way we do things.”

Dr. Arnold has taught at CalTech since 1986 and also serves as the director of the Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center. In 2011, she became the first woman to win the Charles Stark Draper Prize from the National Academy of Engineering. Additionally, she was the first woman to be elected to all three branches of the National Academies: the National Academy of Engineering (2000), the National Academy of Medicine (2004), and the National Academy of Sciences (2008).

Professor Arnold holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

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