PhD Student

MS in Energy Science, Technology, & Policy, Carnegie Mellon University, 2019

Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Spelman College, 2018

Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, 2018

K’yal Bannister is a chemical engineering PhD student at MIT whose research centers on using synthetic biology and metabolic engineering to engineer microorganisms for sustainable chemical production. She is also an Alfred P. Sloan Scholar and GEM fellow. K’yal received a B.S. in chemistry from Spelman College (summa cum laude), B.S. in chemical engineering from California Institute of Technology, and M.S. in Energy Science, Technology, and Policy from Carnegie Mellon University. In addition to her varying interests in engineering, sustainability and policy, K’yal is also passionate about increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in chemical engineering.


  • Bannister, K.R.; Bentley, G.J. Engineering Pseudomonas putida for 3-Hydroxy Acid Production & Programmed Cell Death. Presented at the 2018 GEM Annual Board Meeting and Conference, Los Angeles, CA, September 14-16, 2018. (Oral Presentation)
  • Bannister, K.R. Comparison of Cellulose Derived Composite Fibers and Biomass Pretreatment Techniques for Biofuel Production. Presented at the 2016 Spelman College Research Day, Atlanta, GA, April 2016. (Oral Presentation)
  • Bannister, K.R.; Korosh, T. Phasin Driven Production of Polyhydroxyalkanoates from Escherichia coli. Presented at the Chemistry of Materials for Renewable Energy Research Symposium, Madison, WI, August 2016. (Poster Presentation)
  • Bannister, K.R.; Davis, T. The Pretreatment and Preparation of Composite, Smart Fibers from Perennial Grasses for Use in the Production of Biofuels. Presented at the Dr. John H. Hopps Defense Research Symposium, Atlanta, GA, October 2015. (Poster Presentation)


  • GEM Masters and PhD Engineering Fellowship Recipient – 2018-Present
  • GEM Conference Technical Presentation Competition – 2nd Place – September 2018
  • Spelman College Class of 2017 Valedictorian – May 2017
  • Tau Beta Pi Honor Society – 2017-Present
  • Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society – 2016-Present
  • Spelman College Research Day – 1st Place – May 2015, May 2016
  • ExxonMobil WISE Scholarship Recipient – 2014-2016
  • Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society – 2014-Present
  • Spelman College Dean’s List – 2013-2016
  • Spelman College Dewitt Dean’s Scholarship Recipient – 2013-2016