Kirsten R. Benjamin | AIChE

Kirsten R. Benjamin

Vice President, Microbial Development & Analysis
Pivot Bio

Kirsten R. Benjamin has over 16 years of experience in industrial biotechnology and has contributed to the successful launch of nine new fermentation-derived chemical products. She is currently a Vice President of R&D at Pivot Bio, where she leads the team that discovers and optimizes nitrogen-fixing microbes that act as living fertilizers for non-leguminous crops, via a Design-Build-Test-Learn engineering cycle. In 2023, Pivot’s products were used for >5% of the US corn acres, thereby reducing the negative impacts of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. Before working at Pivot Bio, Kirsten was Vice President of R&D at Amyris, Inc., where she engineered high-performing microbial fermentation strains for the semi-synthetic Artemisinin and Biofene projects, directed the Biofene strain improvement project for three years, and led the strain development department for over five years. Kirsten’s core expertise in microbial strain improvement, including synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, quantitative physiology, and fit-for-purpose assay development, is complemented by a long track record of collaborating intensively with partners in bioprocess development, manufacturing, and business development. Kirsten earned a BS from University of Michigan and a PhD from University of California-Berkeley. She is deeply passionate about the widespread potential of biotechnology, and thus has actively participated in a number of committees, workshops, and conferences to unlock new collaborative opportunities for accelerating the bioeconomy.