"Dr. Ho is a pioneering and visionary researcher who has
worked tirelessly and creatively for more than 30 years
to develop the most successful yeast currently available
for the production of ethanol from cellulosic feedstock,
such as wood, grasses, corn stover and so on," Varma
said. "In addition to conducting the basic research that
led to development of the so-called Ho-Purdue yeast,
she also established a company, Green Tech America,
in 2006 to drive her invention to commercialization.
A number of companies are currently either using her
yeast for commercial production of cellulosic ethanol or
testing it for that purpose."
In 2007, Dr. Ho was invited to attend President George
W. Bush's State of the Union Address in honor of her
work in cellulosic ethanol. She was named an Energy
Patriot in 2006 by former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Indiana.
The Canadian company Iogen used engineered
yeast developed by Dr. Ho to produce ethanol from
wheat straw in the world's first production plant
of its kind. In 1999, the genetically engineered
Saccharomyces yeasts she developed were honored
by Discover Magazine as one of the 27 most important
technological innovations that year.
"I am very grateful for this honor from President
Obama," Dr. Ho said. "It's been a great privilege to
have a career in which I've seen my work go from
the laboratory into the real world to solve significant
The National Medal of Technology and Innovation
was created in 1980 and is administered for the White
House by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Patent
and Trademark Office. The award recognizes those
who have made lasting contributions to America's
competitiveness and quality of life and helped
strengthen the nation's technological workforce.
Dr. Ho is one of eight recipients this year.
She is the third Purdue faculty member to receive a
National Medal of Technology. The others are Rakesh
Agrawal, Purdue University's Winthrop E. Stone
Distinguished Professor in Chemical Engineering; and
the late Leslie Geddes, a Distinguished Professor of
Senator Richard Lugar visiting Dr. Nancy Ho's laboratory in 2008.