ICB, Caltech project leader and biochemical engineer Frances Arnold, is being honored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) for paving the way for other women in chemical engineering and for her significant contributions to chemical engineering research over the course of her career—revolutionizing the way researchers design more effective drugs and create cleaner industrial processes.
Inspired by the biological processes that drive natural selection, Arnold’s pioneering technique called “directed evolution”, which emulates natural selection by breeding proteins with desirable traits through the application of random mutagenesis and rapid mutant screening, has created new and useful enzymes with applications in pharmaceuticals, sustainable biofuels, and other environmentally friendly products. This research has drawn upon many fields and consequently Arnold has been elected to all three branches of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine—the first woman to achieve this rare feat.
The AIChE’s inaugural award will be presented on October 29, 2017, at AIChE’s Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Sponsored by Pfizer, the award honors the memory of Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau who was the first woman to earn a PhD in chemical engineering from MIT, the first woman member of AIChE, and the first female AIChE Fellow.