US Engineer Frances Arnold becomes first woman to win the Millennium Technology Prize

Frances Arnold

In a first, US engineer Frances Arnold has become the first female ever to win the Millennium Technology prize, one of the largest technology prizes in the world. Arnold’s leading role in the work related to ‘directed evolution’ got her this prestigious award. She takes home a cool one million Euros as part of the prize.

Professor Arnold works at California Institute of Technology (Caltech). She is a supporter of green chemistry which led her to unprecedented achievements like methods in which she created new enzymes for industrial catalysts, a sped-up version of natural selection in the lab and inventing a way to make rocket fuel from sugar.

“Evolution, to me, is the best designer of all time. And I figured out that this should be the algorithm for forward design, for making new biological code that is useful to humans. I came in… from basically nowhere. That research was being done by biochemists and protein scientists – molecular biologists. And I was a chemical engineer. I basically knew nothing about the field. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have done it, because I would have known how hard it was, said Arnold in an interview with BBC.

On being an inspiration to other women by virtue of winning this prestigious prize, this is what Arnold had to say, “I certainly hope that young women can see themselves in my position someday. I hope that my getting this prize will highlight the fact that yes, women can do this, they can do it well, and that they can make a contribution to the world and be recognized for it,” to Pasadena Now.

Also read: A case for women in technology: Girls outperform boys in ability test

The Millennium Technology prize has been instituted by the Technology Academy Finland to reward those who are doing some great work in technology and eventually making other’s lives easier. This award is presented only once every two years, and before this the winners have only been men.

Closer home, we have some talented  female scientists in India as well such as Archana Pai who was part of the Gravitational Waves project and Karishma Inamdar who is the only Indian female researcher at NASA’s space outreach program. It would be great if we have a prize for such extraordinary women back home as well to motivate them and inspire others to follow them.

Feature Image Credit: Princeton Social