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2 La Cañada Flintridge scientists honored at White House

Frances Arnold of Caltech was honored for her work on 'green fuels'; Solomon Golomb of USC helped develop technology crucial to communication systems using cellphones or in deep space.

February 02, 2013|By Kelly Corrigan, Los Angeles Times
  • Caltech scientist Frances Arnold was one of 23 scientists and innovators honored at a White House ceremony. The chemical engineer and biochemist was recognized for her pioneering research in biofuels and chemicals that could replace fuel known for generating pollution.
Caltech scientist Frances Arnold was one of 23 scientists and innovators… (Brian van der Brug, Los Angeles…)

Among the 23 scientists and innovators President Obama honored during a White House ceremony Friday were La Cañada Flintridge residents Frances Arnold and Solomon Golomb.

Arnold, a chemical engineer and biochemist at Caltech, won a National Medal of Technology and Innovation; Golomb, a mathematician and professor of electrical engineering at USC, received a National Medal of Science.

Arnold, 56, was recognized for her pioneering research in biofuels and chemicals that could replace fuel known for generating pollution.

"It's a very exciting time now for this kind of work," she said. "The possibilities are exploding."

President Obama awarded the medals during a ceremony at the White House streamed on the Internet.

Arnold was one of 11 to win the National Medal of Technology and Innovation and the only woman in that category. Last year, she was the first woman to win the prestigious Draper Prize.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) in a prepared statement praised Arnold as a prodigious worker who was known for conducting thousands of experiments during her time at Caltech.

"Dr. Frances Arnold has worked her entire life to use biology to solve some of the world's most pressing challenges," Schiff said. "Dr. Arnold's work on 'green fuel' is particularly important and one of the reasons that President Obama rightly selected her as one of the top scientists across the country."

Golomb was one of 12 to win the National Medal of Science for helping to develop technology crucial to communication systems using cellphones or in deep space.

The technology Golomb developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory was "critical to the lunar and planetary missions," Schiff said. He also referred to Golomb as "the godfather of Tetris" for creating polyominoes that inspired the tile-matching puzzle video game.

"We are so grateful to all of you," President Obama told the recipients. "The incredible contributions that you've made have enhanced our lives in immeasurable ways — in ways that are practical but also inspirational."

kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

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