PASADENA, Calif.- David A. Tirrell, Ross McCollum-William H. Corcoran Professor, professor of chemistry and chemical engineering, and chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology is one of 65 new members to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).
Tirrell was noted for his "pioneering contributions to bioengineered materials and synthesis of novel artificial proteins," according to the NAE. Tirrell's research combines organic, biological, and materials chemistry to make new macromolecular systems with exquisite control of structure and function.
His research explores artificial proteins made by the expression of artificial genes in microbial cells. Tirrell uses biological cells to make proteins, just as nature does, but reprograms the cells to produce specific materials that are targeted toward important biomedical technologies. He is also investigating the creation of novel amino acids that are the building blocks for applications in biology, biotechnology, and medicine.
NAE membership is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. It honors those who have made important contributions to engineering theory and practice, and those who have demonstrated unusual accomplishments in the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology.
Founded in 1964, the NAE is an independent, nonprofit institution that advises the federal government on issues of science and technology policy while conducting studies to articulate the societal implications of rapid technological change. The NAE also initiates programs designed to encourage international cooperation between engineering societies, to improve the public's technological awareness and understanding, and to enhance the dialogue between scientists, engineers, and policy makers.