Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering sends it congratulations to Frances Arnold, a professor of chemical engineering at Caltech, for winning the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Arnold won half of this year’s prize for her development of directed evolution, a technique for accelerating discovery of new molecules such as enzymes. She is only the fifth woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and (to the best of our knowledge) the only chemical engineer to date to win the prize.
“Directed evolution has become a critical tool in the arsenal of techniques used by biomolecular engineers,” says ChBE Professor Hang Lu. “It is a superb example of using engineering insight and problem solving to tackle extremely challenging scientific problems.”
ChBE Associate Professor Julie Champion notes: “Dr. Arnold demonstrated the power of directed evolution to produce valuable enzymes with new and improved functions.Importantly, the tools she developed have enabled wide adaptation of the process for goals ranging from better medicines to new genetic codes.”
ChBE Assistant Professor Lily Cheung adds: “Directed evolution is an elegant, yet simple idea. It was Dr. Arnold’s brilliant and rigorous work that converted it into a new area of research and now the basis of multiple startup companies”.