2020 National Honorary Member

Dr. Frances Arnold, California Institute of Technology

Iota Sigma Pi, the National Honor Society for Women in Chemistry, has selected Professor Frances H. Arnold to receive the Invited National Honorary Member Award. Dr. Arnold is the fifth woman, and the first American woman, to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in the 117 years that the prize has been awarded. This award recognizes exceptional achievement in chemistry or an allied field that merits international recognition. This special award is the highest honor that Iota Sigma Pi awards to an outstanding female chemist and has previously been awarded to Marie Curie (1921), Gerti T. Cori (1949), and Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (1966). Frances H. Arnold is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Biochemistry, and Bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology. She also serves as the Director of the Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering center and the Biotechnology Leadership Predoctoral Training. Prof. Arnold pioneered the field of directed evolution of enzymes, research that earned her the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, making her the fifth woman to win the award. The evolved enzymes have catalyzed important reactions in the fields of medicine (diabetes drug Januvia®), neurobiology (MRI agents), chemical synthesis (plant sugars to jet fuel), and alternative energy (anaerobic biofuel synthesis). The widespread uses of these selectively evolved enzymes reveal not only the elegance of her directed evolution concept, but also demonstrate scalability and transition of science out of the laboratory, something that is of importance to Prof. Arnold. In addition to her groundbreaking work, Prof. Arnold also provides a research environment to unleash the creativity of young scientists, something that she views as a crucial and rewarding part of her career, and as such has mentored 250 young scientists to date. Prof. Arnold has been invited to the 2021 Iota Sigma Pi Triennial Convention.


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