June 27, 2008

Arnold Elected to National Academy of Sciences

By Anonymous

Frances H. Arnold, a professor of chemical engineering and biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. The Academy recognized Arnold for integrating molecular biology, genetics, and bioengineering into industry, including research in protein design and new biocatalysts. Arnold is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine, making her one of only eight living individuals - and the only woman to have been elected to all three National Academies.

Two other living chemical engineers have also been elected to the Science. Engineering and Medicine academies: Albert L. Babb of the Univ. of Washington, and Roberts. Langer of MIT.

Arnold is a pioneer in the use of "directed evolution" to improve proteins and other biological molecules for commercial applications. Directed evolution applies the principles of breeding to molecules rather than animals or plants. Using these methods, Arnold has been able to generate proteins with a variety of useful features, such as improved stability and the ability to function in non-natural environments.

The practical applications of this research include the ability to make enzymes that can effectively break down plant cell walls, which would allow the efficient production of cellulosic biofuels.

Arnold earned a BS in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton Univ., and in 1985 received a PhD in chemical engineering at Univ. of California, Berkeley. She performed postdoctoral work in chemistry at Berkeley and Caltech. Among her many honors, Arnold is the recipient of AIChE's Food, Pharmaceutical and Bioengineering Division Award, and the Institute's Professional Progress Award for Outstanding Progress in Chemical Engineering.

Copyright American Institute of Chemical Engineers Jun 2008

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