By Emil Venere
Professor Emeritus Dr. Nancy Ho Receives Top Research Award from President Obama
Dr. Nancy Ho, research professor emerita in Chemical
Engineering and founder and president of Green Tech
America Inc., was selected to receive the National
Medal of Technology and Innovation. The honor will be
presented by President Barack Obama in May 2016.
The award is the highest honor for technological
achievement bestowed by the president of the
Dr. Ho has focused her research on using recombinant
DNA techniques to improve industrial microorganisms,
particularly for production of renewable biofuels and
bio-products by using renewable cellulosic resources
as the feedstocks. Her most noted work has been
the development of recombinant Saccharomyces
yeast that can effectively produce cellulosic ethanol
from all types of cellulosic plant materials such as
corn stalks, wheat straws, wood and grasses. The
original Saccharomyces yeast used for producing
ethanol from corn and other edible feedstocks cannot
ferment cellulosic sugars to produce transportation
fuel such as ethanol. In 2006, she founded Green Tech
America Inc. at the Purdue Research Park to produce
and market the yeast and provide other services for
cellulosic ethanol production.
"This is a most fitting honor for Dr. Ho, who has had a
long and distinguished career in areas vital for energy
research and industry," Purdue President Mitch Daniels
said. "She is an exceptional researcher who has made
an enormous contribution to science and technology."
Dr. Ho began working at Purdue in 1971 after earning
a doctoral degree in molecular biology from Purdue
in 1968. She also earned a master's degree in organic
chemistry from Temple University in 1960 and a
bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1957
from National Taiwan University.
She was a senior research scientist and group leader
at Purdue's Laboratory of Renewable Resources
Engineering (LORRE) and became a research professor
in the School of Chemical Engineering in 2007.
"Professor Ho's accomplishments cannot be
overstated," said Leah Jamieson, the John A. Edwardson
Dean of Engineering. "She has been one of our most
distinguished researchers and has been nationally
recognized by presidents and peers alike."
Dr. Ho was nominated for the medal by Arvind Varma, the R.
Games Slayter Distinguished Professor and Jay and Cynthia
Ihlenfeld Head of the School of Chemical Engineering.
Professor Nancy Ho attending the ChE Centennial Celebration activities in 2011.