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Frances H. Arnold

Frances H. Arnold is the Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology. Frances pioneered the field that has come to be known as directed evolution. Over the last 25 years, she and her lab have used directed evolution and elegant protein engineering methods to answer fundamental biological questions and create useful solutions to a variety of challenges in industry and medicine. She earned her B.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University in 1979 and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. After completing postdoctoral work in biophysical chemistry, she moved to Caltech in 1986.

Frances has been elected to all three National Academies in the US- The National Academy of Sciences, The National Academy of Engineering, and the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies (formerly the Institute of Medicine) as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Frances is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. She has served as a judge for The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering since 2013.

Announced on 5/24/16, Frances has received the 2016 Millennium Technology Prize. The Prize has been awarded in recognition of her discoveries that launched the field of ‘directed evolution’, which mimics natural evolution to create new and better proteins in the laboratory. This technology uses the power of biology and evolution to solve many important problems, often replacing less efficient and sometimes harmful technologies. Thanks to directed evolution, sustainable development and clean technology become available in many areas of industry that no longer have to rely on non-renewable raw materials. Frances is the first woman to win the award, underscoring her status as a strong role model for women working in technology. The Millennium Technology Prize, worth one million euros, is one of the world’s most prestigious science and technology prizes.

Frances has also received special recognition through a number of other high-profile awards, a few of which are highlighted here:

Frances holds more than 40 U.S. patents and has served as science advisor to a number of biotech companies, including Amyris, Codexis, Mascoma, and Gevo, Inc., a company she co-founded in 2005 to make fuels and chemicals from renewable resources. She co-founded Provivi in 2013 to develop new products for biological crop protection.

You can learn more about Frances, and even watch a few of her seminars, by visiting the links below.