Frances H. Arnold
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018
Born: 25 July 1956, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, CA, USA
Prize motivation: “for the directed evolution of enzymes”
Prize share: 1/2
Frances Arnold was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the United States. She studied mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University. She then continued her studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a doctorate in chemical engineering in 1985. She has subsequently worked at the California Institute of Technology. She became interested in energy technology early and formed a company in 2005 to produce renewable fuels.
Evolution – the adaption of species to different environments – has created an enormous diversity of life. Frances Arnold has used the same principles – genetic change and selection – to develop proteins that solve humankind’s chemical problems. In 1993, Arnold conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes, which are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. The uses of her results include more environmentally friendly manufacturing of chemical substances, such as pharmaceuticals, and the production of renewable fuels.