Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, MIT
Kristala Prather is an Associate Professor of
Chemical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She received her degree from MIT in 1994 and
PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in
1999. She worked in BioProcess Research and Development at the Merck Research
Labs in Rahway, New Jersey, US, for four years before returning to academia to
pursue her interest in the potential of microbial
Kristala Prather has received a number of awards, including, the National
Science Foundation Career Award in 2010, the TR35 Young Innovator, Technology
Review, in 2007; Young Investigator Award, Office of Naval Research in 2005–08;
the New Faculty Award, Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation in 2004. Her interests
include the engineering of microbes for production of fuels and chemicals. She
is an investigator with the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center
(SynBERC) which is funded by the National Science Foundation in the USA.
The world needs to provide ever-increasing
amounts of energy to the five billion people in developing countries who aspire to
developed country lifestyles. Fossil fuel-based energy production consumes
immense amounts of water. It also creates intense air pollution.
Microbial synthesis is a method of
harnessing the synthetic power of biology to build microbial chemical factories
– factories which can produce chemicals that may be used to create fuels in a
highly efficient manner.