GEM Receives 2022 Presidential Award for Excellence in promoting STEM

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Kristala Jones Prather, Ph.D.

Kristala Prather is the Theodore T. Miller Career Development Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from MIT in 1994, and a Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1999. At Berkeley, she worked under the supervisionof Prof. Jay D. Keasling on the development of expression vectors for metabolic engineering. Prof. Prather joined the faculty of MIT after 4 years in BioProcess Research and Development at Merck Research Labs (Rahway, NJ), first as a Senior Research Biochemical Engineer and then as a Research Fellow. While at Merck, she worked on projects in the areas of biocatalysis for small molecule transformations, high-yield production of plasmids as DNA vaccines, and mammalian cell line development for production of therapeutic proteins. Prof. Prather’s research interests are centered on the design and assembly of recombinant microorganisms for the production of small molecules, with additional efforts in novel bioprocess design approaches. Research combines the traditions of metabolic engineering with the practices of biocatalysis to expand and optimize the biosynthetic capacity of microbial systems. A particular focus is the elucidation of design principles for the production of unnatural organic compounds within theframework of the burgeoning field of synthetic biology.