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An Interdisciplinary Spirit

2018 Nobel Prize winner Frances Arnold will speak in the Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, October 16 at 2:30 p.m.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Oct. 11, 2018) – 2018 Nobel Prize winner Frances Arnold will speak at UAlbany next week, thanks to a longtime partnership between UAlbany and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) designed to spark collaboration across disciplines.

Chemical engineer Frances Arnold was named as a 2018 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work redesigning enzymes for use in biotechnology particularly in fossil fuels. She will speak at the Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, October 16 at 2:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend and no RSVP is required.

Arnold, a professor at the California Institute of Technology, is a personal friend of UAlbany Distinguished Professor and biologist Marlene Belfort and her husband, Georges Belfort, an Institute Professor and chemical engineer at RPI. Years ago, the Belforts began brainstorming ways to leverage their respective but complimentary fields to mentor more students than they were able to do individually.

The two started a research collaboration “before it was fashionable,” said Marlene Belfort. The couple began to co-mentor UAlbany and RPI students who had interests in the other’s field, and Arnold connected some of her Caltech students to graduate and post-doctoral appointments at both UAlbany and RPI. Beginning in 2016, the Belforts made the collaboration more formal by endowing a lecture series entitled “Life at the Interface of Science & Engineering,” which brings renowned speakers to both the UAlbany and RPI campus each year. Two out of the three presenters thus far are Nobel Laureates.

Arnold’s visit to campus, originally scheduled for a smaller venue but moved to the PAC to accommodate more attendees, is an indication of the caliber of speakers that can be achieved when institutions collaborate, said Marlene Belfort.

“The partnership between UAlbany and RPI is important because of the interdisciplinary nature that cutting edge science is taking,” she said. “That interdisciplinary spirit is embodied in Dr. Arnold’s work as a chemical engineer who incorporates biological engineering; something that previously wasn’t often done in many traditional chemists’ work.”

Arnold will speak at RPI the day prior to her appearance at UAlbany.

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