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The 46th Annual David M. Mason Lectures in Chemical Engineering

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The David M. Mason Lectures in Chemical Engineering are named in honor of the late David M. Mason, who was Professor of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at Stanford University.

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The 46th Annual
David M. Mason Lectures in Chemical Engineering
Tuesday, May 10th, 2022 

The Speaker 

Dr. Frances H. Arnold

Dr. Frances H. Arnold

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018
Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry; Director, Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center
California Institute of Technology

Abstract: Innovation by evolution: bringing new chemistry to life
Not satisfied with biology’s vast catalyst repertoire, I want to create new enzyme catalysts and expand the chemistry of life. We use the most powerful biological design process, evolution, to optimize existing enzymes and invent new ones, thereby circumventing our profound ignorance of how sequence encodes function. Chemistry encoded in DNA and optimized by evolution enables efficient, sustainable routes to important fuels and chemicals. Evolution not only optimizes, it can also innovate and create entirely new enzyme catalysts. I will illustrate how whole families of new-to-nature enzymes increase the scope of molecules and materials that can be built using synthetic biology. 

Frances Arnold, Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry and Director of the Rosen Bioengineering Center at the California Institute of Technology, became the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2018) for pioneering directed evolution methods used to make enzymes for applications across medicine, consumer products, agriculture, fuels and chemicals.  She was appointed Co-Chair of the Presidential Council of Advisors for Science and Technology (PCAST) by President Biden in 2021. Arnold received the Bower Award in Science in 2019, the Millennium Technology Prize in 2016, the Charles Stark Draper Prize in 2011, and a 2011 National Medal of Technology and Innovation.  She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the US National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering; she was appointed to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences by Pope Francis in 2019.  Arnold received her B.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University and her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.

B.S., Princeton University, 1979
Ph.D., University of California, 1985
Visiting Associate, Caltech, 1986
Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, 1987-92
Associate Professor, 1992-96
Professor, 1996-99
Professor of Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry, 1999-2000
Linus Pauling Professor, 2000-
Director, Rosen Bioengineering Center, 2013-

Research in the Arnold group focuses on evolutionary protein design methods (1,2) and using the results of laboratory evolution experiments to elucidate principles of biological design. They generate novel and useful enzymes and organisms for applications in medicine, neurobiology, chemical synthesis, and alternative energy. They also construct entire synthetic families of enzymes and other proteins in order to study structure-function relationships free from constraints of natural selection. This research requires contributions from many disciplines, including chemistry, bioengineering, biochemistry, molecular biology, microbiology, chemical engineering, chemistry, and applied physics.

The Schedule 

Event Time Location
Alumni Reconnect 3:00 - 4:00 pm Shriram 368
Mason Lecture 4:30 - 5:30 pm Huang NVIDIA Auditorium
Reception & Poster Session 5:45 - 6:45 pm Huang Amphitheater/Foyer
Mason Banquet 7:00 - 9:00 pm Huang Mackenzie Room