Jennifer Holmgren will be the recipient of the 2015 BIO Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology at the BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology, which will take place July 19-22 in Montreal, Canada.
Holmgren’s work and commitment to the advancement of her field of industrial biotechnology embodies the spirit of Rosalind Franklin and her pioneering efforts.
This award was created to help carry on the legacy of Rosalind Franklin who not only aided in the expansion of biotechnology, but also helped pave the way for women in this field. Franklin was instrumental in the discovery and greater understanding of the molecular structure of DNA. Through her use of x-ray diffraction images, the true double helix structure of DNA was discovered. With the aid of Franklin’s images and writings, Francis Crick and James Watson were able to release their 1953 model of the structure of DNA.
More than 15 female leaders in industrial biotechnology were nominated for the award. Holmgren’s accomplishments and dedication stood out to the Rosalind Franklin Award Selection Committee, who selected her as the inaugural recipient.
Holmgren is CEO of a revolutionary carbon recycling company, LanzaTech, based in Chicago, Ill., U.S.A. Under her leadership, LanzaTech is developing the world’s first alternative jet fuel from industrial waste gases using intermediates derived through industrial biotechnology. LanzaTech’s technology, certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) in 2013, is ready to deploy globally today, with a 30 million gallon nameplate facility targeted for construction in China in 2015, producing fuel ethanol from steel mill off gases.
Holmgren’s team has defined the genetic blueprint of gas fermenting organisms and demonstrated in the laboratory that they can be engineered to produce a range of novel, commercially valuable molecules.
LanzaTech’s work is a cornerstone for the development of an entire industry that uses gas fermentation to convert a variety of wastes or low value resources into a diverse spectrum of low carbon fuels and chemicals.
Prior to joining LanzaTech, Holmgren was vice president and general manager of the Renewable Energy and Chemicals business unit at UOP LLC, a Honeywell Co. She was one of the key drivers of UOP’s leadership in aviation biofuels, and under her management, UOP technology became instrumental in producing nearly all of the initial fuels used by commercial airlines for testing and certification of alternative aviation fuel for passenger flights. These test flights brought tremendous visibility to the potential of renewable aviation fuel and the role of biotechnology in feedstock development.
Holmgren holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Harvey Mudd College, a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago. She is the author or co-author of 50 U.S. patents and 20 scientific publications.