skip to content


Inaugural Daniel I.C. Wang Lecture on the Frontiers of Biotechnology

"Expanding the enzyme universe by evolution and design"

Frances H. Arnold
Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor 
Division of Chemistry & Chemical Engineering
California Institute of Technology

Friday, September 26, 2014
3:00 p.m. Room 32-123
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Prof. Frances H. Arnold

Dr. Frances H. Arnold is the Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Biochemistry and Director of the Rosen Bioengineering Center at the California Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on directed evolution and protein engineering, with applications in alternative energy, chemicals, and medicine.

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.

At Caltech, Dr. Arnold pioneered the “directed evolution” of proteins, mimicking Darwinian evolution in the laboratory to create new biological molecules. Her laboratory has developed methods of laboratory evolution and structure-guided recombination that are used widely in industry and 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 Charles Stark Draper Prize of the US National Academy of Engineering (2011). She has been elected to membership in all three US National Academies, of Science, Medicine, and Engineering. Dr. Arnold serves as a judge for the Queen Elizabeth Prize in Engineering and 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 has served on the science advisory boards of numerous companies, including Amyris, Mascoma, Fluidigm, Codexis, Genomatica, Twist, and Maxygen, She co-founded Gevo, Inc. in 2005 to make fuels and chemicals from renewable resources and Provivi in 2013 to develop new technology for crop protection.

> History and Previous Biotechnology Lectures