News Release

Robert M. Kelly to receive the Amgen Biochemical and Molecular Engineering Award

Award will be presented at ECI Biochemical and Molecular Engineering XXII Conference, June 26 – 30, 2022

Grant and Award Announcement

Engineering Conferences International

Robert M. Kelly to receive the Amgen Biochemical and Molecular Engineering Award at the conference

Biochemical and Molecular Engineering XXII:

The Dawn of a New Era

June 26 – 30, 2022
Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Hotel
Cancun, Mexico

The Amgen Award (supported by Amgen, Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA, a leading biotechnology company with pioneering human therapeutic products) is given in memory of James E. Bailey to recognize research excellence and leadership in Biochemical and Molecular Engineering. An award of $5000 cash and a commemorative plaque from Amgen will be presented at the ECI Conference on Biochemical and Molecular Engineering in Cancun, Mexico.

The 2022 awardee is Robert M. Kelly.

Robert M. Kelly is the Alcoa Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University and Director of the NC State Biotechnology (BIT) Program which trains over 400 students a year in molecular biotechnology laboratory skills. He obtained his B.S. and M.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia. After working at DuPont’s Marshall Laboratory in Philadelphia, PA, he moved to North Carolina State University, where he completed his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering while serving as Process Engineer for the EPA Coal Gasification/Gas Cleaning Test Facility. After a decade at Johns Hopkins University as a faculty member in Chemical Engineering, he returned to North Carolina State University in 1992. At NC State, Kelly has served as Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies from 2000-02 and has directed an NIH T32 Biotechnology Pre-Doctoral Training Program since 2000. He was part of the founding Scientific Advisory Board of Diversa Corporation, which became a publicly traded (NASDAQ) biotechnology company that focused on the discovery of novel enzymes from extremophiles. 

Dr. Kelly’s research interests center on the biology and biotechnology of extremely thermophilic microorganisms from the domains Bacteria and Archaea. His work on extreme thermophiles has focused on biocatalysis and protein stability at high temperatures, novel features of microbial physiology and genetics at elevated temperatures, heavy metal biotransformations related to biomining, and the search for life on other solar bodies (astrobiology). In the past decade, molecular genetic tools for these microorganisms have become available, thus enabling metabolic engineering efforts aimed at the production of bio-based fuels and chemicals from native and transgenic lignocellulose and through CO2 fixation powered by sulfur oxidation.

Among the honors that he has received are the American Chemical Society’s Marvin Johnson Award in Biochemical Technology (2004), the American Institute of Chemical Engineering’s Food, Pharmaceutical and Bioengineering Award (2007), the American Society for Microbiology’s DuPont Biosciences Award in Applied and Environmental Microbiology (shared with Michael W.W. Adams, University of Georgia) (2018), and the Lifetime Achievement Award, International Society for Extremophiles (2018). At NC State, he has received the RJR Award in the College of Engineering for Excellence in Teaching, Research, and Extension, NC State University (2003), and the Holladay Medal (2021), the highest distinction awarded to a faculty member by the University’s Board of Trustees. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineers. His service to the scientific community includes chairing the AIChE Food Pharmaceutical and Bioengineering Division (1996) and as Editor of the American Society for Microbiology journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology (2012-2022). He also co-chaired two previous ECI meetings: Biochemical Engineering VIII (with Sabash Karkare) and Enzyme Engineering XV (with Frances Arnold and David Anton).

List of Amgen Award Winners

1993 – James E. Bailey (ETH-Zurich)
1995 — Daniel I. C. Wang (MIT)
1997 — Michael Shuler (Cornell University)
1999 — Douglas Lauffenburger (MIT)
2001 — Harvey Blanch (University of California Berkeley)
2003 – -Douglas Clark (University of California Berkeley)
2005 – -Eleftherious (Terry) Papoutsakis (Northwestern University/University of Delaware)
2007 — George Georgiou (University of Texas)
2009 – Gregory Stephanopoulos (MIT)
2011 – Jens Nielsen (Chalmers University of Technology)
2013 – Sang Yup Lee (KAIST)
2015 – Wei-Shou Hu (University of Minnesota)
2017 – Jay Keasling (University of California Berkeley)
2019 – Jonathan S. Dordick (Rensselaer Polytechnic University)

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.