As reported by Trusteeship member, Ilyanne Morden Kichaven, the Frances Arnold Member Spotlight was a phenomenal experience. Ilyanne shares: 55 Trusteeship members and 23 guests witnessed a very special evening on Monday, February 25th to celebrate our own, Nobel Prize Laureate, Frances Arnold. Our elegant dinner at Caltech’s famed Athenaeum was followed by a brilliant interview with Frances by fellow Trusteeship member, Emmy and Pulitzer award winning journalist, Patt Morrison, who became friends with Frances through The Trusteeship and traveled with her to the Stockholm Nobel festivities. Frances recounted her remarkable journey from her first days as a scientist to the awards prentation on December 10, 2018 and dining with the King of Sweden, His Royal Highness, Carl XVI Gustaf and what has transpired since.
Frances, the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for “the directed evolution of enzymes”. Directed evolution, pioneered by Frances in the early 1990s, is a bioengineering method for creating new and better enzymes in the laboratory using the principles of evolution. Today, the method is used in hundreds of laboratories and companies that make everything from laundry detergents to biofuels to medicines. Enzymes created with the technique have replaced toxic chemicals in many industrial processes.
Fellow Trusteeship member, Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, whose father founded ECOS, Earth Friendly Environmental Products, thanked Frances and stated that her pioneer work in “innovation through evolution” produced the science behind the Green Enzymes they use in their laundry detergent and other products. Among the many wonderful remarks made by Frances include: “I wasn’t really too fond of chemistry. In fact I have recently started taking some courses in the subject. ” When asked by Anna Ouroumian “What obstacles do you see in your field as a woman?” Frances responded, without hesitation “There aren’t any. Being a woman is great.”
Always looking beautiful Frances exhibited little more glamour as she filmed a small part on an episode of The Big Bang Theory that day, playing herself, and was in full hair and make-up from the set (Look for Frances on the April 4th episode of The Big Bang Theory).
Frances is the fifth female chemistry laureate since the prizes first began in 1901, and the only American woman to ever win in the subject. At evening’s end she brought out the coveted medal and took photos with her Trusteeship sisters so we could share the glory. All were in awe to be in the company of the highest order. Heartfelt congratulations to Frances who changed the world!