Biochemical engineer Frances Arnold on Wednesday became the first American woman, and fifth woman ever, to win the Nobel Peace Prize in chemistry since the prize’s inception 117 years ago.
Arnold, who teaches chemical engineering at the California Institute of Technology, was awarded the prize for her work with the “directed evolution of enzymes,” which has paved the way for the development of drugs to treat diseases such as Crohn’s.
Her work, which she began in 1993, has also contributed to the creation of more environmentally friendly chemical substances and the production of “renewable fuels for a greener transport sector,” the Royal Swedish Academy said in the speech introducing her award.
The chairman of the 2018 Nobel Committee for Chemistry, Claes Gustafsson, called Arnold’s work, along with the other two scientists who received the prize, part of “a revolution in evolution,” according to The Los Angeles Times.
Arnold was awarded half of the $1.01-million prize, while the other half was split between George Smith from the University of Missouri in Columbia and Gregory Winter, who works in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England.
Arnold has been recognized for her work multiple times before, winning the National Academy of Sciences’ Sackler Prize in Convergence Research last year and becoming the first woman to Millennium Technology Prize in 2016.