Innovative, experienced, and integrated: Heliae brings together more than 100 associates with a variety of talents and experience who are primarily focused in one of five key areas. Here you can read more about each of these areas and some of our Associates. Click on the Associate images below to learn more about their views or qualifications.
Research & Development
Our world-class R&D team applies innovative thinking and cross-discipline expertise to unlock the potential of a variety of algae strains and other biological platforms and organisms. Here are just a few of the nearly 40 associates that make up Heliae’s R&D team.
Ravi Vannela, Ph.D.
Sr. Engineer, Process Integration
In addition to the skills Ravi acquired earning his Ph.D. in Biotechnology from Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences, Ravi possesses 14 years of hands-on experience in developing algae growth systems. Ravi has extensive interdisciplinary post-doctoral experience at Iowa State University and University of Michigan prior to joining Arizona State University as a Research Professor. Ravi’s industry experience has primarily focused on process development, down-stream processing, and scale-up of algae production systems. Ravi currently implements integrated systems engineering approach to large scale outdoor ponds, interfacing biology with engineering.
Development Production Manager
Luke completed academic studies focused on molecular plant biology and biochemistry at Arizona State University. At Heliae, Luke focuses on the development of novel and reliable platforms for algal cultures, including the design and performance optimization of algal bioreactors.
Dr. Eneko Ganuza
R&D Microbiology Manager
Eneko is a lead scientist and a key innovator in the area of mixotrophy, one of the primary technology differentiators at Heliae. With nearly 10 years’ experience in the algae production industry, Eneko is now leading Heliae’s efforts to use the full potential of the metabolic versatility that is distinctive to microalgae. As a PhD student at the University of Hull (UK) and University of Las Palmas (Spain), Eneko’s work on the synthesis of omega-3 fatty acid by heterotrophic microalgae was received with honors by a Nobel-Laureate led panel acting on behalf of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.
Director of R&D Systems
"What I like about Heliae is its mission, how we approach our work and our integrity. Many ‘sustainable solutions’ have appeared in the past 20+ years, but algae has real potential to be a sustainable solution that works. While growing algae is challenging, with those challenges come great rewards. Heliae utilizes cross functional working groups that share a common goal; to successfully resolve issues and grow algae at commercial scale. Heliae is dedicated to data driven, tangible results. We are willing to do the work and provide only reliable products with proven results."
"My goal for algae technology is that it will evolve over time to provide sustainable, real solutions to problems across the globe, and to open new opportunities to improve the lives of people."
Every day our experienced operations team works hand-in-hand with R&D to produce products at commercial scale for our customers and partners. Our operations team includes a talented staff of scientists and engineers with significant algae science and production expertise, a few of whom are highlighted below.
Travis J. Muff, PhD
Travis received a BS in Biochemistry from Iowa State University and earned his PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Urbana, where he studied signal transduction in bacteria. After completing his Ph.D., Travis completed post-doctoral studies on bacterial sporulation at The Scripps Research Institute and algal transcription factors and gene expression with Dr. Stephen Mayfield at the University of California, San Diego. At Heliae, Travis works on analyzing and quantifying recombinant proteins produced in algae and genotyping algae strains.
Associate Director of Manufacturing
Craig graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering. After nearly a decade of working in a variety of areas for Tate & Lyle, a global ingredient manufacturer for food, beverage, and other industries, Craig brought that experience to Heliae to facilitate the development of our large scale production facilities. Craig now manages many aspects of Heliae’s large scale production assets.
Director of Engineering
John brings over 25 years of engineering experience in a wide variety of industries. John called upon this experience in leading the development of Heliae’s first production facility. In his current role, John leads an expert core engineering team in developing, designing, and implementing a new generation of algae production facilities for Heliae in the US and abroad.
Algae Production Manager
"It’s exciting to work for Heliae, not only for the opportunity to work with some amazing strains of algae but to be a part of something that will change the world as well."
"Algae based products have a diverse and abundant future market potential. Hundreds of thousands of natural algae species exist in nature. The complexity of algae makes it a great organism for genetic modification as well, which compounds the potential product range we can anticipate coming from these organisms. Heliae is developing technology platforms today that in the future will support the production of any algae."
Heliae prides itself on the quality of our products. Our Quality and Regulatory team ensures that every production batch meets our customer’s specifications and complies with all applicable regulations and leading industry standards. Some of our Quality team members share their thoughts below.
"Working at Heliae is fun because there is never a lack of exciting new challenges. I really enjoy working in an environment of innovation and continuous improvement. My favorite thing about Heliae is the awesome people. Everyone here is passionate about their contribution to the company’s success."
Environmental, Health and Safety Manager
"It has been great to watch Heliae grow from a small team producing algae at lab bench scale to a multi-acre, multi-product production facility. I enjoy working for a company that fosters that kind of growth and a team that is able and excited to overcome challenges associated with a rapidly developing technology. I believe Heliae can change the world through developing sustainable and beneficial algae technology. From the start, that has been Heliae’s constant vision. My hope is that my children will benefit from algae and use it in their everyday lives."
Assistant Quality Assurance and Regulatory Manager
"Heliae is creating a legacy for future generations. It is a pleasure working with a visionary team that supports and challenges me with the opportunity to do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time."
Our corporate team provides Heliae with all of the capabilities required to realize its strategies. A few of our Associates that support our business are showcased here.
"The people make this company special. Each and every associate brings something unique to the table. Their passion for algae and its magnitude of possibilities to make a difference in the world makes this a great place to come to everyday. Without our bright, talented associates, there would be no algae discoveries."
"I like working for Heliae because it gives me a chance to utilize a wide breadth and depth of IT skillsets. Heliae provides a dynamic work environment; I’m surrounded by scientists and engineers whose diverse IT requirements challenge my team in ways very few companies can."
Accounts Payable Clerk
"I like working for Heliae because it is a goal-oriented company with clear values and a great culture. We are working to improve the quality of people’s lives … and having a lot of fun doing it!"
Our leadership team promotes a relentless pursuit of excellence, integrity, responsibility, and innovation. Operating from these values in partnership with our Associates has allowed our leadership team to establish a track record of repeatedly meeting or exceeding key milestones in building a dynamic technology company. Heliae’s team has secured over one hundred million dollars of investment from strategic investors that are associated with some of the world’s most successful companies. Our team has employed these investments to develop a demonstration production facility that is producing multiple commercial products backed by significant ongoing research. Notable among many recent successes, our leadership team has overseen the launch of two commercial products, the large scale production of a cutting edge genetically modified microalgae product for a contract research partner, and the launch of an international joint venture.
Chief Operating Officer
Eric brings nearly 35 years of experience in managing operations in the pharmaceutical, biotech, and consumer products industries. Eric began his work with algae in the 1980s, doing pioneering work with Dr. William Oswald in algal raceway production systems. After leading production facilities for Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Tate & Lyle domestically and overseas, Eric returned to the algae industry when he joined Heliae as VP of Operations in 2014. Soon after joining Heliae, Eric was appointed Chief Operating Officer. Eric completed a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan and earned an MBA in finance and operations management from Loyola University Chicago.
Len S. Smith
Chief Business Officer
Len joined Heliae in 2014. Prior to joining Heliae he spent more than 15 years in leading roles for large and mid-sized biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, most recently serving as Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX). Len completed technical degrees in biology and environmental science, as well as information systems management and law. His biological research focused on the genetics of leguminous plants.
J. Craig Johnson
Chief Executive Officer
Craig brings nearly 30 years of experience in operational and financial management for both private and public companies, including Armor Designs (LSE:ADID), Global Entertainment (Amex:GEE) and ServiceMaster (NYSE:SVM). Craig joined Heliae as the company’s Chief Financial Officer in 2011. He was asked to assume the position of Interim Chief Executive Officer in July 2014. Within a few months he was permanently appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer. Craig holds a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Fullerton and was chosen for and completed an exclusive executive program (MBA-equivalent degree) in business administration conducted by Wheaton University.
Director of Human Resources
Lori brings over 20 years of experience in human resources and organization development to Heliae, including leading roles with Westinghouse Corporation, Simon & Schuster Publishing Company, Universal Technical Institute, and International Cruise & Excursions. She joined Heliae based on her passion for helping emerging, high growth companies achieve their business objectives by focusing on transforming and maintaining a high performance culture. Lori holds a degree in Psychology from Millersville University and is a certified Senior Professional Human Resources Manager.
Director of Finance
Dan joined Heliae in January 2012, bringing over 15 years of experience including a variety of senior financial positions with a broad background in a wide variety of industries, including positions at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Honeywell. Dan graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University and is a Certified Public Accountant.