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In her research at the California Institute of Technology Frances H. Arnold focuses on directed evolution and protein engineering, with applications in alternative energy, chemicals, and medicine. She pioneered the “directed evolution” of proteins, mimicking Darwinian evolution in the laboratory to create new biological molecules. The methods of laboratory evolution and structure-guided recombination developed in her laboratory are used widely in industry and in basic science to engineer proteins with new and interesting properties.
Dr. Arnold is the recipient of numerous honors, including induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (2014), the Eni Prize in Renewable and Nonconventional Energy (2013), the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2011), and the NAE’s Charles Stark Draper Prize (2011). She has been elected to membership in all three US National Academies, of science, medicine, and engineering. She is a judge for the Queen Elizabeth Prize in Engineering, and serves on the President’s International Advisory Council of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and the selection committee of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Fellowships in Science and Engineering program.
Dr. Arnold holds more than 40 US patents and is active in technology transfer to the private sector. She cofounded Gevo, Inc. in 2005 to make fuels and chemicals from renewable resources and Provivi in 2013 to develop new technology for
Dr. Arnold received her bachelor’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University in 1979 and her PhD in chemical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley in 1985. After postdoctoral work in biophysical chemistry at UC Berkeley, she joined the Caltech faculty in chemical engineering in 1987.