Professor Prather received her Ph.D. in 1990 from the University of California, Davis. She was a postdoctoral fellow at University of California, Berkeley from 1990-1992. In 1992, she became an assistant professor at University of California, Riverside. In 2001, she moved to University of California, San Diego as a professor of chemistry.
She is the recipient of the American Chemical Society Analytical Chemistry Arthur F. Findeis Award, the Kenneth. Whitby Award, the GAeF Smoluchowski Award, the National Science Foundation Special Creativity Award, the American Society for Mass Spectrometry Award, and the National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award. She is also an Elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Association for the Advancement for Science