Al Maerifa seminar to feature Nobel laureate and the evolution of the chemistry of lifePublished Jun 22, 2020
This week’s Al Maerifa Public Seminar Series organized by Texas A&M University at Qatar will focus on the pioneering work of Dr. Frances H. Arnold, the 2018 Nobel laureate in chemistry.
Arnold’s talk, “Innovation by Evolution: Bringing New Chemistry to Life,” is set for Thursday, 25 June, at 3 p.m. via Zoom and is presented in partnership with the Qatar chapter of the American Chemical Society. In her talk, Arnold will discuss how she pioneered the use of the most powerful biological design process — evolution — to optimize existing enzymes and engineer new ones to expand the chemistry of life. Arnold will show how we can build sustainable, biological routes to important fuels and chemicals.
“Evolution can also innovate, generating new enzyme catalysts, with a little insight from chemistry,” she said. “Whole families of new-to-nature enzymes increase the scope of molecules and materials we can build using synthetic biology and move us closer to a sustainable world where human-invented chemistry will be genetically encoded.”
Arnold is the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). She received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2018 for pioneering directed enzyme evolution methods, which she has used to engineer enzymes for alternative energy, chemicals, and medicine. Among her numerous honors are the Charles Stark Draper Prize of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama, and the Millennium Technology Prize. She has been elected to all three U.S. National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering and is a Foreign Member of the Royal Academy of Engineering. She was appointed to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 2019.
The Al Maerifa talks are presented in English and are designed for a general, nontechnical audience. Participants will be invited to ask questions at the end of the presentation.
Organized by Texas A&M at Qatar’s Office of Engagement, the Al Maerifa Public Seminar Series continues the partner university’s core mission of sharing knowledge with the local community in Qatar, said Dr. César Octavio Malavé, dean of Texas A&M at Qatar.
“At Texas A&M at Qatar, our mission is to create and share knowledge,” Malavé said, “and our work continues, despite our unusual circumstances. Technology is allowing us to continue this knowledge sharing with the Qatar community that has been so welcoming to us. We are tremendously honored — and humbled — to have with us a scientist and engineer of Dr. Arnold’s caliber and we are proud to be able to share her work and her experience with our students, our faculty and researchers, our partners here at Qatar Foundation and in Education City, our friends at Qatar University, and with the community in Qatar in general.”