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Woman awarded Chemistry Nobel Prize for the fifth time in 117 years

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Woman awarded Chemistry Nobel Prize for the fifth time in 117 years


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By Nicky Brown ’19

Each year, Nobel Prizes are awarded to professionals in six categories: literature, physics, peace, medicine, chemistry and economic sciences. This year, a female chemistry professor received the chemistry award, becoming only the fifth woman to win this prize.

On Oct. 3, Frances H. Arnold was awarded the chemistry prize. Arnold is an American professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. She practices chemical engineering, bioengineering and biochemistry.

According to The New York Times, “Dr. Arnold won for her work conducting the directed evolution of enzymes, proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. […] Her enzymes have been used to make biofuels, medicines and laundry detergent, among other things.”

Students were happy to hear about Arnold’s win for this year’s Nobel Prize.

“As a girl who wants to pursue chemistry in college, it is refreshing to see that women are being awarded for their hard work. This only motivates me to work harder,” Avery Reiner ’19 said.

Although many females succeed in the chemistry field, it still tends to be a male dominated practice. The National Girls Collaborative Project reported that although half of the college-educated workforce in America are women, they only represent 29 percent of the science and engineering field.  

“Rather than being sidelined by men, I hope women will be able to show their true potential to the world,” Andie Pines ’20 said. “I hope they’ll receive the same opportunities and recognition as men and that their work will finally get some well deserved recognition.”

At Staples, chemistry is a required class, giving everyone a chance to learn about the subject and decide if they like it or not, no matter their gender. Staples chemistry teacher Kristin Leahy hopes to encourage girls to pursue science.

“I think they can identify with female role models which are few and far between in the STEM field. The more the better,” Leahy said.

Students are appreciative of the opportunities there are to succeed at Staples.

When I was younger I felt like I was never really encouraged by teachers to do well in science classes. I was aware that I needed to work harder to be acknowledged if I wanted to pursue a career in this field,Brooke Githens ’19 said. “Staples has really given me the opportunity to explore the different sciences and gave me a wide variety of classes to choose from which is such a privilege.”

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Woman awarded Chemistry Nobel Prize for the fifth time in 117 years