Metabolic engineer Jay D. Keasling of Lawrence Berkeley Lab receives Doing a World of Good Medal
NEW YORK, NY — The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) honored Merck & Co., Inc., and the Procter & Gamble Company, along with those companies’ leaders, for exemplifying the good works that apply chemical engineering expertise to benefit society, at its annual gala held in New York City on Tuesday, December 3.
Merck was honored “for leadership in developing innovative therapies to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases” — including cancer, HIV, hepatitis C, cardiovascular diseases, antibiotic-resistant infection, Alzheimer’s disease, and Ebola. The honor for Merck was accepted by Kenneth C. Frazier, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
Procter & Gamble Company was recognized for “demonstrated leadership and achievements in sustainability” — in particular for helping to address the world’s plastic waste challenge and developing technologies to make recovery and recycling of plastic waste easier. Procter & Gamble’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, David S. Taylor, accepted the award on behalf of the company.
The gala also honored Jay D. Keasling, Director of the University of California, Berkeley’s Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, who received the AIChE Foundation’s Doing a World of Good Medal, a prize that salutes the achievements of an individual who has advanced the societal contributions of engineers. Keasling was honored for his groundbreaking contributions to resource sustainability and human welfare, as well as for his commitment to fostering inclusive educational and working environments for people of all backgrounds.
In a video acceptance speech, Keasling reflected on his work in metabolic engineering — a field dominated by chemical engineers. He explained that his efforts involve engineering lifesaving molecules produce valuable products. Keasling and his team have engineered a low cost version of the important anti-malarial drug, artemisinin, and he is now working on microbial production of advanced biofuels that might otherwise be produced from petroleum. “I cannot think of another profession that has the same depth and breadth as chemical engineering,” said Keasling, who concluded, “I have chemical engineering to thank, not only for giving me an exciting profession, but for giving me the tools to make a difference in the world.”
The 2019 AIChE gala raised approximately $725,000 to support the advancement of the chemical engineering profession, including efforts to expand programs to help recruit, retain, and promote the equitable inclusion of women and other underrepresented groups in their pursuit of careers in STEM, stated AIChE Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer June Wispelwey. “Our Doing a World of Good gala is devoted to helping the chemical engineering community to be fully prepared for future challenges,” said Wispelwey. “This means developing a profession where everyone can contribute their best.”
The annual gala supports transformative priorities of the AIChE Foundation and its Doing a World of Good campaign, which focus on advancing chemical engineering and bringing that expertise to bear for the good of society. To date, the campaign has raised more than $15 million in its initial phase toward these objectives, and has recently embarked on $5 million initiative: All For Good: Engineering for Inclusion — dedicated to attracting and retaining the best engineering talent from the classroom to the boardroom.
The 2019 gala’s dinner chairs were Bruce Chinn, President, Chevron Chemicals; Kathy Fish, Chief Research, Development Officer, The Procter & Gamble Company; Erin Kane, President and Chief Executive Officer, AdvanSix Inc.; Anne Roby, Executive Vice President, Linde; John Televantos, Senior Partner, Arsenal Capital Partners; Michael Thien, Senior Vice President, Manufacturing Systems Design and Commercialization, Merck & Company; and Linda Wright, Vice President, ExxonMobil Fuels and Lubricants Company.
In introducing the honor for Merck, Roby said that the company “is not only improving lives, but saving the lives of people everywhere.” Roby noted that, under the leadership of Ken Frazier, Merck has refocused on innovative lifesaving medicines and vaccines to benefit society, while providing long-term and sustainable value to its many stakeholders, and building on Merck’s 125-year plus legacy.
Wright presented the honor to Procter & Gamble and David Taylor, citing the company’s dedication to sustainability and its strong corporate citizenship in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Wright noted that, early in 2019, Taylor was instrumental in establishing the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. The Alliance, where Taylor serves as chairman, is focused on helping to end the flow of plastic in to the environment and has grown to represent more than 40 companies across the global value chain.
For more information on AIChE’s 2019 Annual Gala and its sponsors, or for photographs of the event, visit www.aiche.org/gala.
About AIChE: AIChE is a professional society of more than 60,000 members in more than 110 countries. Its members work in corporations, universities and government using their knowledge of chemical processes to develop safe and useful products for the benefit of society. Through its varied programs, AIChE continues to be a focal point for information exchange on the frontier of chemical engineering research in such areas as nanotechnology, sustainability, hydrogen fuels, biological and environmental engineering, and chemical plant safety and security. More information about AIChE is available at www.aiche.org.