California Institute of Technology

We develop evolutionary protein design methods to elucidate principles of biological design and generate novel and useful enzymes and organisms.

Recent Highlights

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Prospective graduate students should apply through the appropriate PhD option (ChEBEBMBChemBio or other).

Congratulations to Frances for being awarded the 2025 Priestley Medal, the American Chemical Society’s highest honor! Read more from Caltech and Chemical & Engineering News!

Check out the Chemistry Shorts™ film presented by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation where Frances discussed directed evolution and its impactful applications here!

Congratulations to Daniel Wackelin, Runze Mao, Kathleen Sicinski, Yutao Zhao, Anuvab Das, Kai Chen, and co-authors! Their paper titled “Enzymatic Assembly of Diverse Lactone Structures: An Intramolecular C–H Functionalization Strategy” was highlighted by Synfacts! Check out their paper!

Congratulations to Nicholas Sarai, Tyler Fulton, Ryen O’Meara, Kadina Johnston, Sabine Brinkmann-Chen and co-authors! They are the first to engineer an enzyme that can break stubborn man-made bonds! Check out their Science paper and the Caltech news!

Congratulations to Soumitra Athavale, Shilong Gao, Anuvab Das and co-authors. Their paper on amination and amidation of unactivated C–H was highlighted by Synfacts!

Congratulations to Catherine Ko, who was awarded the Renuka D. Sharma Prize in the CCE division this past Spring at the McCoy Symposium! This prize recognizes a sophomore student who has achieved an outstanding performance during their freshman year.

SynFacts highlights work by group members David Miller, Ravi Lal, and Luca Marchetti! Biocatalytic Enantioselective 1-Carbon Ring Expansion via 1,2-Stevens Rearrangement.

Former group members Peter Meinhold (Provivi) and Jeff Moore (Merck) win 2022 EPA Green Chemistry Challenge Awards! See the EPA press release here!

A recent article by Bruce Wittmann was featured in a Cell Systems Preview by Neil Thomas and Lucy Colwell. Read it here!

Congratulations to Andrew Zhou, who was recently announced as a Churchill Scholar for 2021-2022. He will be doing research at Cambridge in Jason Chin’s lab while obtaining his MPhil. Read more here!

Bruce Wittmann has been awarded the 2019-20 CCE Teaching Assistantship Award! He is one of only three recipients!

Dr. Kai Chen, who recently defended, was awarded the McCoy award in Chemistry. Congratulations!

Congratulations to Andrew Zhou who was awarded the Richard P. Schuster Memorial Prize! It is well-deserved!

Nicholas Sarai was recently awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship! Congratulations!

Dr. Ben Levin was awarded a NIH Ruth L. Kirschtein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship! Congratulations!

Congratulations to Dr. Noah Dunham for being awarded a NIH Ruth L. Kirschtein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellowship!

Dr. Nicholas Porter has been named a Merck–Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Fellow! Congratulations!

Congratulations to Lucas Schaus for being awarded the AFR PhD Fellowship through the FNR Luxembourg!

Allison Tang has been awarded the Caltech Library Undergraduate Senior Thesis Prize. We’re sorry to see her go, but excited to hear about what she does at Princeton!

Photos from the Nobel Ceremony have made their way onto our website!

Congratulations to Kai Chen for his Resnick Institute graduate fellowship!

Unending congratulations to our evolutionary ringmaster, Frances Arnold, for winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018 for her pioneering work in Directed Evolution.

Allison Tang has been selected as an awardee for the Future Leaders in Chemical Engineering symposium. Congratulations!

Congratulations to postdoctoral fellow Dr. Xiongyi Huang on getting his NIH K99 funded!!

Congratulations to Anders Knight and co, whose paper on enabling stereodivergent cyclopropanation of unactivated alkenes with diverse engineered heme proteins has been highlighted in Synfacts.

Congratulations to Oliver Brandenberg and co, whose paper on the stereoselective enzymatic synthesis of heteroatom-substituted cyclopropanes has been highlighted in Synfacts.

Congratulations to Kari Hernandez for receiving the 2018 CCE Teaching Assistantship Award (May 2018).

Our work in evolving enzymes for stereodivergent cyclopropanation of unactivated alkenes was featured in C&EN News (Feb 2018).

Congratulations to Jenny Kan, Xiongyi Huang, Yosephine Gumulya, and Kai Chen for their paper on chiral organoboranes built by bacteria (Nov 2017).

Our work in forming C-Si bonds was featured in the most read story of 2017 in Astrobiology Magazine!

Check out Frances’ new essay in Angewandte Chemie (open access):  “Directed Evolution: Bringing New Chemistry to Life“.

Congratulations to Xiongyi Huang (current postdoc): NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA postdoctoral fellowship (2017).

Congratulations to Stephan Hammer, Grezgorz Kubik, Ella Watkins, Shan Huang, and Hannah Minges for their paper on beating catalysts at the oxidation game. Congratulations to Anders Knight, who won the best poster award at the ECI Enzyme Engineering Conference in Toulouse, France.

Congratulations to David Romney, Javier Murciano-Calles, and Jöri Wehrmüller, whose paper on synthesizing tryptophan analogues has been selected by the Editorial Board of Synfacts for its important insights as “Synfact of the Month”.

Congratulations to Chris Prier and Kelly Zhang, whose paper on asymmetric C-H amination has been selected by the Editorial Board of Synfacts for its important insights as “Synfact of the Month”.

Frances Arnold is the recipient of the Society of Women Engineers’ 2017 Achievement award.

Congratulations to Kevin Yang (grad), one of the three recipients to receive the first ever CCE Teaching Assistantship Award, presented to the divison’s most exceptional teaching assistants.

Congratulations to Kari Hernandez (grad), the 2016 winner of the Constantin G. Economou Memorial Prize for outstanding candidacy research in Chemical Engineering.

Congratulations to Andy Buller, who will join U. Wisconsin Chemistry.

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