Profiles of Women Working In STEM

Kristala Prather

Chemical Engineer

Dr. Kristala Prather is the Arthur D. Little Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT. Her research, combining traditions of metabolic engineering with the practices of biocatalysis, explores new strategies for synthesizing commercial mole­cules biologically, from start to finish. Such techniques could provide environmentally cleaner ways to manufacture everything from biofuels to drugs, avoiding the harsh solvents and toxic by-products associated with more conventional synthesis.

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. Dr. Prather joined the faculty of MIT after four 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.

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