Professor Peralta-Yahya

Education and Training

Postdoc, Metabolic Engineering, University of California, Berkeley/ Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2012 Ph.D., Columbia University, Chemistry, 2008 B.A., Macalester College, Chemistry and Biology, 2003


  • 2022 Vasser Woolley Faculty Fellowship
  • 2022 Cullen-Peck Scholar
  • 2017 NIH MIRA Award
  • 2016 Samsung Global Research Outreach Competition
  • 2016 Kavli Fellow — US Academy of Science
  • 2016 Keystone Symposium ECI Travel Award
  • 2015 Blanchard Fellowship
  • 2014 DARPA Young Faculty Award
  • 2014 DuPont Young Professor for Scientific Innovation Award
  • 2008 Distinction in the doctoral dissertation – Columbia University.
  • 2008 Pegram Award – Columbia University
  • 2004 Novartis Graduate Fellowship in Organic Chemistry
  • 2003 O.T. and Kathryn Walter Award in Biology – Macalester College.


Dr. Peralta-Yahya’s diverse research group works in the area of engineering biology, drawing from principles of chemistry, biochemistry and chemical engineering to build systems for chemical detection and production. Her group focuses on the development of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR)-based sensors for biotechnology and biomedical applications, and the engineering of biological systems for the production of advanced biofuels and modified natural products. Early on, her work was recognized with several awards including a DARPA Young Faculty Award, a DuPont Young Professor Award, a Kavli Fellowship, and an NIH MIRA award. Her group’s key accomplishments are 1) the standardization of GPCR-based sensors in yeast to reduce the cost and accelerate the pace of drug discovery for these receptors, which are the target of over 30% of FDA approved drugs, and 2) the development of advanced biofuels, including pinene, which, when dimerized, has sufficient energy content to power rockets and missiles. Today, her group is funded to work on these and other cutting edge areas – including how to power a rocket returning from Mars and how to make synthetic cells learn without evolution – by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and NASA.