Kristala Jones Prather

Kristala Jones Prather is the Joseph R. Mares (1924) Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT. Her research interests are focused on the design and assembly of recombinant microorganisms for the production of small molecules. Current efforts include the development of tools and methodologies for biosynthetic pathway design and for bioprocess improvement. Research combines the traditions of metabolic engineering with the practices of biocatalysis to expand and optimize the biosynthetic capacity of microbial systems, especially for the production of unnatural organic compounds. Prather received an S.B. degree from MIT in 1994, and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, both in chemical engineering. She joined the faculty of MIT after 4 years in BioProcess Research and Development at the Merck Research Labs (Rahway, NJ). She is the recipient of a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation New Faculty Award (2004), an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award (2005), and a Technology Review “TR35” Young Innovator Award (2007). Additional funding for her research is provided by the National Science Foundation through the multi-institutional Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC), which includes co-investigators from the University of California, Berkeley; University of California-San Francisco; Harvard University, and Prairie View (TX) A&M University.