Our blog and Radio Show features Dr. Frances Arnold, American Noble Prize winner, Chemical Engineer, researcher, professor and musician. Many of the world’s chemists, scientists, medical doctors, mathematicians, writers, and teachers have studied and played musical instruments since they were children. These eminent individuals have integrated music into their thinking process. Also included are three articles on the power of classical music for healing.

Our article of the month is “ The One Question to Ask for the New Year!” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D.

Radio Show Feature Question for January 2021:  How does Classical music play a part of Dr. Frances Arnold’s life as an American Noble Prize winner, chemical engineer, researcher, professor, and musician and what are her musical instruments?



Early Years:

Frances Hamilton Arnold was born on July 25,1956 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of “Josephine Inman (née Routheau) and nuclear physicist William Howard Arnold , and the granddaughter of Lieutenant General  William Howard Arnold .”  She is the third of five children and grew up in Pittsburgh.

At a young age she began studying the piano and later the guitar. When she was 11 years old she became fascinated “with science” setting “her sights .. on becoming a heart surgeon. Christiaan Barnard had just done the first human heart transplant, and young Frances was mesmerized.”

Frances Arnold says, “I scoured all the surgery books in the public library. To me, knowledge was like money in the bank. Learning a language or learning a piece of music, reading, [it was all] comforting to me.”

High School years:

When she was 15, Frances skipped classes and hitchhiked “to D.C. to protest the Vietnam War.”

Dr. Arnold said looking back, “Fifteen is one of those terrifying ages, where you’re frustrated because you know something’s wrong, but you have no idea how to fix it. So, I did what I could, which is protest. But as I’ve gone through my life,” she continues, “I know that it’s my responsibility to fix it. I’m much better at fixing things than protesting.” She pauses. “But if you don’t start off protesting, then you become complacent.”

Frances Arnold said, “That streak of independence was very, very strong. She acknowledges that the trait got her into trouble.”

As a teenager she didn’t follow her parents’ rules and “she amassed a stack of truancy notices.” At 17, so as to not influence her younger siblings, she moved into an apartment nearby and paid her rent by working “as a cocktail waitress in a jazz club and driving a cab.”

 Francis “was particularly worried one day” and instead of going to class, she went to the high school auditorium, alone, and sat down to play the piano. This was “strictly verboten” during the school day, but she’d indulged herself similarly many times. There was no piano in her apartment like the one at home and she was both talented and interested in music.”

Mr. Fisher, the school’s long-time principal, walked in. Francis “the usually confident student — over-confident at many times, acknowledges — she was taken aback. She paused, her fingers resting on the keys.”

Mr. Fisher said, ‘Keep going. You have my permission to play the piano.’  “And so, she did.”

Playing the piano helped Francis think through her problems in a clear focused way! Mr. Fisher understood this!

Even though she was “nearly expelled from high school, Arnold had almost perfect standardized test scores and made it into Princeton, where her nuclear-physicist father studied.”

Francis Arnold, “I applied to become an engineer when there were no girls—there were just no girls in mechanical engineering. So, I guess I was an odd-enough-duck applicant that they took me.”




University and work:

After completing her second year at Princeton she traveled to Italy and worked “in a factory that made nuclear reactor  parts, then returned to complete her studies” at Princeton.

Returning to Princeton, “she began studying with Princeton’s Center for Energy and Environmental Studies – a group of scientists and engineers, at the time led by Robert Socolow , working to develop sustainable energy sources, a topic that would become a key focus of Arnold’s later work.


Frances Arnold graduated in 1979  from Princeton University with a B.S. degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering , focusing on solar energy research. In addition, she took “classes in economics, Russian, and Italian.” She thought about “becoming a diplomat or CEO, even considering getting an advanced degree in international affairs.”

Engineering work in South Korea, Brazil, and Colorado:

After graduation  she worked “as an engineer in South Korea and Brazil and at Colorado’s Solar Energy Research institute . At the Solar Energy Research Institute (now the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.  She worked on designing solar energy facilities for remote locations and helped write United Nations position papers.”

This was in the 1970s after the “Three Mile Island” accident and “during the second major oil crisis”.

Francis Arnold said, “This was something I could get excited about, using my engineering background to do something good, something the world really needed. We had a national goal of 20 percent renewable energy by 2000. … Young people were so eager to make it happen.”

University of California, Berkeley:

In 1981, Arnold “inspired by the prospects of clean energy, moved to Berkeley to pursue her Ph.D. in chemical engineering and work on developing biofuels with Harvey Blanch, a pioneering biochemist.”

Francis says she “knew nothing about chemistry,” but Blanch accepted her anyway. A friend from SERI had given her a glowing review, so he took a chance. Blanch, “It was a little unusual.” The faculty decided Arnold should play catchup by taking all of the undergraduate chemistry courses. “She did that in 12 months and did astonishingly well.”

She “spent five years in Berkeley, including a postdoctoral year, and remembers it fondly as the place where she truly fell in love with science.”

The genetic engineering revolution began in the early 1980s in the Bay Area. “UCSF researchers had only recently discovered that DNA could be effectively cut and pasted and that we had the capability to “manipulate the code of life,” as Arnold puts it.”

Dr. Arnold, “So I said, ‘That’s what I want to do, I want to be an engineer of the biological world.’”


Dr. Arnold says, “It was a fascinating time, I had amazing people to learn from. Marian Koshland, Dan Koshland, Judith Klinman, Ignacio Tinoco—just one after another, these tremendous names and forces that influenced me and made me realize anything is possible.”

Arnold worked in Blanch’s lab “on technology that used antibodies to isolate proteins.” Dr. Blanch says the question was, “How do you make these [antibodies] commercially, in enough quantities to make it work?”

Francis Arnold “designed a system to separate the antibodies at scale, purifying them from a soup of molecules by attracting them with their perfect chemical match. The technology is called “affinity chromatography” and uses a tall, tube-like column, the walls of which are lined with the chemical bait.”

Francis Arnold earned her Ph.D. degree in 1985 in chemical engineering  from the University of California, Berkeley  “Her thesis work, carried out in the lab of Harvey Warren Blanch, investigated affinity chromatography techniques.”


California Institute of Technology, 1986: Protein Engineer & Professor for over 32 years

She in accepted in 1986 a faculty position at Caltech where she was one of the few women on the faculty.

“She became interested in energy technology early and formed a company in 2005 to produce renewable fuels.”

Personal Adversity and Tragedy:

Dr. Arnold “was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, leading to successful intensive chemotherapy treatment.  Two husbands and one of three sons all died prematurely, in separate instances of disease, suicide and accident.”


October 2018 Nobel Prize for Chemistry: (5th Women to win a Noble Prize for Chemistry)

Dr. Francis “Arnold received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her decades-long work on the directed evolution of enzymes, the proteins that catalyze chemical reactions, which she began studying in the late 1980s.”

In her 2018 Nobel Laureate Lecture, Frances Arnold compares and sees similarities between science and music. She says, “The code of life is like Beethoven’s Symphony – it’s intricate, it’s beautiful. But we don’t know how to write like that.”  


Her work, “Evolution – the adaption of species to different Environments – has created an enormous diversity of life. Frances Arnold has used the same principles – genetic change and selection – to develop proteins that solve humankind’s chemical problems. In 1993, Arnold conducted the first directed evolution of enzymes, which are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions. The uses of her results include more environmentally friendly manufacturing of chemical substances, such as pharmaceuticals, and the production of renewable fuels.”


Dr. Arnold cited, “Several of her graduate students’ papers in the Nobel analysis.” She said, “All of my former and current students just felt like it went to them. And it did.”

Around the world, labs are utilizing “directed evolution”. It “involves breeding enzymes for particular properties, in much the same way we do everything from racehorses to corn. By steering enzymes this way or that over several generations, Arnold’s lab is able to tease novel behaviors out of the catalysts.”

Dr. Arnold as a Mentor:

As a mentor, her most important rule as a mentor “is to make sure students’ creativity is unbridled.” She says, “It’s the students and their wild ideas that push the lab forward. The first important thing is to make people feel safe to have ideas. Young scientists love to generate ideas. If you make it risky, you’re just going to shut off that process.”


Dr. Arnold gave an Engineering Lecture on Sept. 15,2020 on Zoom to over 700 participants.  Her lecture, titled “Innovation by Evolution: bringing new chemistry to life,” showcased the principles of directed evolution and gave examples of how the technology has and will continue to revolutionize the field of synthetic chemistry and beyond.” She spoke of several companies she has co-founded with her former students showcasing their work on directed evolution. At the end of her lecture she said, “It is such a pleasure to be able to work with enthusiastic, creative, young people who have not yet learned what cannot be done. A lot of people tell you what cannot be done but just close your ears. There are all sorts of things that remain to be done.”


Dr. Francis Arnold is an American Noble Prize Winner, Chemical engineer, researcher, professor, andmusician. She continues her research for more discovers to help mankind through directed evolution and to inspire, motivate, and mentor young scientists.


The One Question to Ask for the New Year!  by Madeline Frank, Ph.D.

Do you have a zest for life and (want to) squeeze every bit out of it? It rarely involves doing more than others are willing to do; it involves laser-like focus.

Great leaders understand the importance of ‘What’s Important Now?’

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes! An 8-year-old, Tess, heard her parents one evening talking about needing a miracle to save her little brother, Andrew. He was very sick and needed an operation to save his life.

They sold their home so they could pay the doctor’s bills. The surgery that would save her brother’s life was costly; and the family had no funds. She heard her Dad say to her Mom, “Only a miracle will save him now!”

Tess came up with an idea! She went to her bedroom and opened her piggy bank. After counting the money several times, she placed it back in her piggy bank and quietly slipped out the back door of the house. She had $1.11. She walked the 6 blocks to the local Pharmacy and waited patiently for the Pharmacist to stop talking to another man so he could help her.

After waiting a long while, she twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise, cleared her throat and still the Pharmacist ignored her. Finally, she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That got his attention.

The Pharmacist asked in an annoyed voice, “And what do you want? I’m talking to my brother in Chicago who I haven’t seen in ages.”

Tess answered, ” I want to talk about my brother. He’s really,really sick and I want to buy a Miracle”.

“His name is Andrew and he has something bad growing in his head! My Daddy says, ‘Only a miracle can save him now! How much does a miracle cost?’

The pharmacist replied in a kinder voice, “We don’t sell Miracles here little girl, I’m sorry I can’t help you!”

Tess, “Listen I have the money to pay for it. If it isn’t enough I will get the rest. Just tell me how much a miracle cost!”

The Pharmacist’s brother leaned down and asked her, “What kind of miracle does your brother need?”

“I don’t know.” she replied as her eyes welled up with tears. “He’s really sick and Daddy says that he needs an operation. My Daddy can’t pay for it so I want to use my money.”

The Pharmacist’s brother asks, “How much do you have?”

“$1.11. It’s all the money I have, but I can get some more if I had to!”

“Well what a coincidence!” the Pharmacist’s brother smiled in reply. “$1.11, the exact price of a miracle for little brother. Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let’s see if I have the kind of miracle that he needs!” (“The Pharmacists brother was a surgeon from Chicago who specialized in neurosurgery.”)

“The operation was completed without charge.”

It wasn’t long before Andrew was doing well and was home again.

Tessa’s Mom said, “That surgery was a real miracle! I wonder how much it would have cost?”

Tess smiled to herself. She knew exactly how much the miracle cost, $1.11.

Leaders are willing to ask great questions to solve important problems.Even very young leaders know when to ask questions!!

Then they listen.

In 2008, Domino’s Pizza had the courage to face up to their problem. “Their pizza was terrible.”

Ryan Berman, Chief Creative Officer of the I.d.e.a. brand cites Russell Weiner, President of Domino’s USA as saying, “We did not rank high on product scores. But believe it or not, people thought our product tasted better when it was in somebody else’s box. All every American wanted was for someone to just stand up and tell ’em the truth, to listen to their problem and to do the right thing.”

They realized “the problem wasn’t just the taste of their pizza, but also the brand.”

They owned their terrible product, admitted their shortcomings, and asked the public to give them another chance. Their bold “Oh Yes We Did” campaign, captivated the public because it showed them that they actually listened to their customers and would fix any problems.”

The company has enjoyed one of the greatest stock performances of any company in their category, skyrocketing from $9 to over $387.46 (12/14/2020).

What is your One Question that Will Get You Out of your Rut?

What does leadership capacity mean and how can it help you?

Jeff Boss said in an article for Forbes that there are “three leadership capacities to focus on: Courage, clarity, and curiosity. Leadership is about capacity being the type of person who’s able and willing to learn, be courageous, tackle difficulty and question the status quo. Who you are refers to your character – humility, integrity, openness to new ideas, service to others.”

Without clarity “courage doesn’t exist.” By being clear “about what’s important to you..there’s no hesitation, no second-guessing, no wondering if you’re making the right decision, no ambiguity over what’s expected of you.” With clarity you can “get your work done because you’re clear on what success looks like.” With clarity you, your team members and your company create “fulfillment and alignment”. When your “clear” on your values, your work, and in life you’re balanced. He says, “When you’re clear, you’re bulletproof.”

Mr. Boss’s final point: “However, you only gain clarity through curiosity. Good leaders know when to talk and provide direction but they also know when to listen, learn, and lead with curiosity. When you lead with curiosity you not only forge greater clarity but you also gain insight into how others think, which informs your next move (or question) as a leader.” Ask “Simple questions such as, “What do you think?”, “How might we… ?”, “What do you believe is the best way to achieve… ?” are powerful tools you can use at any moment to learn and lead simultaneously.” (Fortune.com/ Jeff Boss: How To Build Your Leadership Capacity, Sep. 8,2017)

Here are 3 Ways you can Focus on What’s Important Now.
1) Clear your mind by writing questions and problems down on paper so they stop renting space in your head. Be courageous by asking bold questions, and listen to the answers to shape your clarity.
2) Be open minded about the solution, and the messenger of the solution. Be curious and have a teachable spirit.
3) Take action.

Remember what Albert Einstein said, “The important thing is never to stop questioning. I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”© 2021 Madeline Frank


“5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Beethoven” (Dec. 2, 2020) from the NYTimes.com

“Listen to the best of the stormy, tender work of the composer who changed music.

In the past, we’ve asked some of our favorite artists to choose the five minutes or so they would play to make their friends fall in love with classical music, the piano, opera, the cello, Mozart,21st century composers, the violin, Baroque music and sopranos.”

“Now we want to convince those curious friends to love the stormy, tender music of Beethoven, who was born 250 years ago this month.”


“Violinist Joshua Bell Joins ‘Heroic’ Healthcare Workers to Play Bach Double Concerto” (August 5, 2020) by Maddy Shaw Roberts. Classic fM.com

“American  violin virtuoso virtuoso  Joshua Bell saw that and provided us with some musical magic. Together with ten healthcare workers, who all happen to be fantastic violinists on the side, Bell organized a multitracked rendition of the first movement of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto.

Bell said, “Over the past several months I’ve been so moved by the heroism of the healthcare workers who’ve really risked their lives on the frontlines of this pandemic.”


“Cellist Turns Locked-down Museums Into Backdrop for ‘Healing Art’” (Dec. 2, 2020) by Lucien Libert.

“The pandemic has seen the cancellation of many live music performances, but one French-Belgian cellist isn’t letting it get in the way of sharing her art. Camille Thomas has been filming herself performing in empty museums around Paris and sharing the videos on the internet. During France’s lockdown, she’s performed at the Palace of Versailles and the Institute of the Arab World, both shut due to the COVID-19.”

“It’s an ideal pairing for the COVID-19 era: a musician who cannot play for a live audience and sumptuous museums that cannot welcome visitors. Cellist Camille Thomas has put them together to create what she hopes will be a balm for troubled times. She is carrying out a series of solo performances of classic works set against a backdrop of deserted museum interiors in and around Paris. They are filmed and posted on the internet.”



The Secret of Teaching Science & Math Through Music” by Madeline Frank, Ph.D. is available in book form, and newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook:


 “Musical Notes On Math” by Dr. Madeline Frank teaches your child fractions and decimals, the fun easy way, through the rhythm of music, Winner of the Parent To Parent Adding Wisdom Award is available in book form, newly updated as an e-book on Kindle, Nook, or iBook.:


 Madeline’s Midnight Melodies- Music From around the World”. This CD complements her books with a blend of dance music, gigues, tangos, ballet and favorites including “Danny Boy”, Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro”, Debussy’s “Claire De Lune” and others. “Madeline’s Midnight Melodies” is music to relax by and to move by for music therapy.  “Madeline’s Midnight Melodies” CD is now available for purchase by downloading a song, downloading the album, or by CD by clicking below:

Download Your Copy Today!  Amazon | iTunes |

Dr. Madeline Frank’s book “Leadership on a Shoestring Budget” is available through amazon. To order your copy  as an e-book on Kindle click on the following link:



Wishing you and your family a happy and successful New Year, from Your Non-Invasive Medicine Music Expert, Madeline

For over 30 years, Dr. Madeline Frank has helped children and adults overcome problems through Classical music. Madeline Frank, Ph.D., DTM is an award-winning teacher, author, researcher, speaker, conductor, and concert artist. She has discovered a scientific link between studying a musical instruments and academic and societal success. Madeline Frank earned her Bachelor and Master’s degree from the Juilliard School of Music. Her education has included scholarships at the Juilliard School, Indiana University, and the University of Cincinnati and she has a violin performance diploma from the North Carolina School of the Arts. (C) 2021 Madeline Frank.