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Othmer Gold Medal

Founded in 1997, the Othmer Gold Medal is the Science History Institute’s preeminent award. The medal is presented each May during Heritage Day, an annual celebration of the achievements and promise of the sciences and technologies that shape material culture.

Jay Keasling, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley, received the 2022 Othmer Gold Medal on Wednesday, May 11.

The medal is named after Donald Othmer (1904–1995), a noted researcher, consultant, editor, engineer, inventor, philanthropist, professor, and coeditor of the Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology. And just like the medal’s namesake, winners must have made extraordinary contributions in not just one aspect of the materials sciences but in many. The roster of past winners includes some of the most versatile, multitalented individuals in the scientific community.

The Othmer Gold Medal is cosponsored by four affiliated organizations: the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Chemists’ Club, and the Société de Chimie Industrielle (American Section).

Watch the Othmer Gold Medal presentation and Q&A with Jay Keasling here:

2022 Medalist: Jay Keasling

Jay Keasling is a professor in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and the Department of Bioengineering, and the Philomathia Foundation Chair in Alternative Energy at the University of California, Berkeley. He serves as faculty senior scientist in the Biological Systems and Engineering Division of the Biosciences Area at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and CEO of the Joint BioEnergy Institute.

Keasling is a pioneer in engineering microbes and metabolism. During the early 2000s, he led a UC Berkeley research team to use engineered yeast to synthetically produce artemisinin, the powerful antimalarial drug. Researchers at the Keasling Lab are now using the same technology to produce other pharmaceuticals, commodity chemicals, and cellulosic biofuels.

Keasling received a BS in chemistry and biology from the University of Nebraska and an MS and PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan. He also did postdoctoral research in biochemistry at Stanford University. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors.

Previous Winners of the Othmer Gold Medal

About the Sponsors

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is the world’s largest scientific organization. The society was established in 1876 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1937 to encourage in the broadest and most liberal manner the advancement of chemistry in all its branches.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) is a professional, technical, and educational association. The AIChE was founded in 1908 and is dedicated to promoting excellence in the development and practice of chemical engineering in an ever-expanding array of disciplines.

The Chemists’ Club, established in 1898, is one of the oldest and most respected chemical organizations in the country. Members are engaged in management, marketing, processing, and research and development.

The Société de Chimie Industrielle was founded in 1918 as the American Section of a Paris-based international organization. Today it operates as an independent New York–based society with a mission to work with other chemical-industry organizations and promote understanding of the chemical and allied industries. Activities include a monthly CEO forum, a scholarship program, and the International Palladium Medal awarded to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the industry.