The heart of the biotechnology revolution, biochemical engineering has seen the launch of entire industries. Biochemical engineers work to develop sustainable solutions to some of our greatest challenges – whether that’s creating better biofuels and biodegradable plastics, or advancing large-scale pharmaceutical manufacturing during pandemics.
From the discovery and manufacture of penicillin in 1918, the extraction of nature's undiscovered potential is no less important today, sitting at the intersection of engineering, maths, biology, and chemistry.
The problem, however, comes when applying traditional engineering principles and practices to biology. Unlike the underlying principles building something more static like a bridge, nature rarely offers a consistent framework to build upon; it changes, ever evolving. Applying engineering to nature requires a shift in thinking. Synthetic biology is all about learning from nature, and adapting that to create solutions for the benefit of humanity.
In this episode of the Create the Future podcast, we speak to Kristala Prather, the Arthur D. Little Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and Principle Investigator of the Prather Research Group.
We unpack Kristala's work in biochemical engineering and synthetic biology and her route into the profession, explore why nature throws out the traditional rulebooks of engineering, and discuss ways to make STEM more accessible to future generations.