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.