Unlocking the environmental microbiome to create a more transparent world.
The microbiome around us is the most complex, untapped dataset on Earth.
The microbiome is the trillions of interacting bacteria, fungi, algae and viruses that inhabit every inch of our world: our bodies, our stuff, our homes, and our cities. We make decisions every day based on the visible world around us. Yet much of our lives is shaped by what we cannot see.
Phylagen’s proprietary technology and machine learning analytics open the door to new insights across numerous applications.
Microbiomes cover everything and provide information about the provenance of objects and raw materials.
The environments we inhabit contain unique microbiomes that influence our health and well-being.
The distribution of microbiomes across time and space can be used to forecast future states and events.
CEO, Co-Founder, Board of Directors
Dr. Jessica Green is internationally recognized for her contributions to microbiome science and technology, with highly cited articles in Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She co-founded the Biology and Built Environment Center at the University of Oregon and is on the Science Advisory Board at the Santa Fe Institute.
She has received numerous awards including a Blaise Pascal International Research Chair, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and a TED Senior Fellowship. Jessica received a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from UC Berkeley, an M.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from UC Berkeley, and a B.S. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from UCLA.
President, Co-Founder, Chairman of the Board
Dr. Dillon is a pioneer and thought leader in industrial biotechnology. He has spent his career at the forefront of emerging biotechnology trends, first as a researcher during the height of the human genome project, then as a patent attorney, and primarily as an entrepreneur. His experience as an entrepreneur has spanned all phases, from garage startup through IPO and beyond, and many roles, from executive to in-house counsel to bench scientist. He is an inventor on over 50 patents and patent applications, and has authored articles in scientific, business, and legal journals.
Prior to Phylagen, Dr. Dillon co-founded Solazyme (NASDAQ:SZYM), an industrial biotechnology company that manufactures designer, renewable oils. He served as Chief Executive Officer, Chief Technology Officer and President from 2003 to 2013. Dr. Dillon was also an associate at the law firm Townsend and Townsend and Crew, and managed the biotechnology patent portfolio of the University of Utah in the University’s Technology Transfer Office.
Dr. Dillon received a Ph.D. in Genetics from University of Utah, a J.D. from Duke University School of Law, and a B.S. in Biology from Emory University.
Dr. Scott Fay has spent his career applying molecular and computational tools to answer biological questions. As an academic, he trained as a molecular ecologist, using molecular biology tools to study coral reef symbiosis, eukaryotic microbial food webs and arthropod ecophysiology. He then joined Invitae, a genomic information company. While there he developed production software to support a rapidly growing clinical genomic diagnostics lab. At Invitae he went on to lead Dry Lab Operations, a group of twelve bioinformatics scientists and engineers. Now at Phylagen he has found the perfect opportunity to combine his scientific, engineering, and leadership skills with his one true academic love: microbial ecology.
Scott is happiest when building things both physical and digital. As a bioinformatics engineer he gets to balance analysis and engineering, enjoying the satisfaction of building great software that supports great science. You might find him seeking inspiration by searching for hot springs in the desert, backpacking the Sierras, or awestruck at the Exploratorium with his kids.
Scott received his PhD from UC Berkeley’s department of Integrative Biology and B.A. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology from UC Santa Cruz.
Director of Assay Development
Dr. Brad Taft is a biochemist with deep expertise in nucleic acid detection, qPCR assay development, next-generation sequencing and sample-to-answer systems product development. Most recently he was the Director of R&D at the MiNDERA Corp. where he developed microneedle devices for the capture of human transcriptome from skin. Prior to that he spent a decade working on next-generation sequencing platforms and highly-multiplexed qPCR assay formats.
Brad’s career has spanned from fabrication of nanostructured devices in an academic setting to customer field support of commercial sequencing products in foreign countries. While at NVS Technologies from 2010-2014, he was part of a team that developed a platform allowing for highly multiplexed rapid qPCR detection of viruses from nasal swab samples. He’s an avid cyclist and plays ice hockey in his spare time.
Brad received his PhD in chemistry from Boston College and his B.S. in chemistry from Florida State University. He conducted his Postdoctoral research in the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Toronto. His doctoral research focused on DNA capture-probe and nano-surface interactions for analytical applications.
VP and GM, Supply Chain Solutions
Randy Rankin is a professional with a broad range of experiences – with significant experience over the past 20 years in Supply Chain Risk Management and Corporate Social Responsibility. During this period, Randy has been involved in the development of industry standard methodologies for consideration of supply chain social compliance; establishment of performance standards for firms providing social compliance auditing services; and development of company perspectives on supply chain risk management issues.
From 2008 to 2016, Randy was the Vice President of CSR Services at Bureau Veritas, a global testing, inspection and conformity firm. At Bureau Veritas, Randy was responsible for all elements of the CSR services business and the development and deployment of supply chain risk management solutions for international consumer products companies.
Prior to 2008, Randy was the founder and CEO of Global Social Compliance – a leading independent social audit firm with offices in the United States and the People’s Republic of China. Randy started his professional career with Price Waterhouse, where he was admitted to partnership in 1996.
Randy holds a BS in Accounting from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona. Away from the office, Randy is very involved in his son’s endeavors as a nationally ranked race car driver.
Chief of Staff
Josh has also previously held various intern positions, including a capital markets internship at BBAM, one of the world’s largest aircraft leasing firms, and a research analyst internship at the Brattle Group, a global economic consulting firm.
Josh graduated from Amherst College with degrees in Economics and Environmental Studies as well as a decorated career in intramural basketball. Additionally, he was captain of the Amherst Golf Team and even managed to win a tournament individually, though his friends like to remind him that it was overwhelmingly due to poor play by the rest of the field. Outside of the office, Josh enjoys golfing, skiing, hiking, trying new restaurants, and reading.
Adam Altrichter is a data scientist and molecular ecologist with extensive experience in microbiome research. His work has included characterizing spatial patterns of Antarctic microbes, classifying gut bacteria in pharma clinical trial patients, and shaping indoor microbial communities with sustainable building design and operation. He has been a member of trailblazing academic labs at the University of Oregon and the Bay Area microbiome startup Second Genome.
Adam is an end-to-end microbiome scientist with expertise in data generation through data analysis. In the wet lab he has devised methods for next-generation sequencing applications with a specialization for low biomass and extreme environments. In the dry lab Adam has developed scalable machine learning and bioinformatic pipelines for disentangling complex microbial communities and designed analysis products for researchers, executives and public audiences.
Adam Altrichter received a M.S. in Biological Sciences from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Creighton University.
Nick is a molecular biologist with extensive experience optimizing commercial tests for infectious disease detection, cancer diagnostics and next-generation sequencing. Most recently, he was a Senior Scientist at Thermo Fisher Scientific, where he focused on development of a qPCR-based immunoassay for prostate cancer diagnostics. Prior to that, he spent a decade working on the Ion Torrent sequencing platform, and process development for molecular infectious disease diagnostics.
Nick’s career has ranged from leading efforts in systems engineering, lab process automation and developing manufacturing process transfers. While at Life Technologies, his primary focus was on a sample-to-answer qPCR diagnostic for rapid infectious disease detection. Outside of the lab, Nick is an avid hockey and lacrosse player, and enjoys spending time with his family.
Nick received his B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology from UC Santa Cruz.
Dr. Neal Grantham is a data scientist and machine learning practitioner who specializes in the fields of spatial statistics, hierarchical Bayesian models, high-dimensional inference, and deep neural networks. He has extensive experience assembling reproducible data science pipelines with Python and R that transform raw, high-throughput sequencing data into informative visualizations and statistical analyses.
Neal’s research has primarily focused on the use of dust-associated microbial communities to geolocate objects with high precision across the United States and the globe. Related work has led to the development of a novel statistical model for the analysis of microbial abundance data from designed experiments. In his years as a research statistician, Neal has collaborated closely with microbial ecologists, horticulturists, marine biologists, EPA atmospheric scientists, and NASA aerospace engineers.
Neal received his Ph.D. in Statistics from North Carolina State University in 2017 and his B.S. in Mathematics, B.S. in Statistics from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 2012.
Nasser is an ecologist with experience conducting biological surveys in the field and using molecular techniques to analyze environmental samples in the lab. Before joining Phylagen, Nasser worked as a biological technician for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where he spent extensive time in the field implementing conservation strategies for native Hawaiian species. He has previously held positions collecting water quality data for the California state water board and also published research studying the effects of climate change on the oceans.
Nasser received a B.S. In Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of California Irvine. While not at work, he hopes to continue exploring the depths of his stomach and cup, both abroad and at home.
Dr. Roxana Hickey is a computational microbial ecologist with broad expertise in microbiology, bioinformatics, genomics, multivariate statistics, and data visualization. Most recently she was a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Biology and the Built Environment Center at the University of Oregon, where she investigated the microbial relationships between humans and the built environment. Before that, she spent nine years researching the vaginal microbiome and women’s health.
Roxana is passionate about science outreach and communication. Her research has been featured on Science Friday and the Period podcast, and she has delivered public webinars, lectures, and workshops to a wide range of audiences.
She received her Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and a B.S. in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from the University of Idaho. Her dissertation research focused on the diversity and dynamics of the vaginal microbiome throughout a woman’s lifespan.
Bianca Miani is a research assistant, primarily focused on processing the various incoming samples for subsequent sequencing. Bianca is most interested in expanding her knowledge and laboratory techniques of metagenomics through the development of microbial profiles.
Bianca holds a B.S. in Biochemistry from St. Mary’s College of California. Bianca has always been fascinated by the existence and symbiosis of microorganisms and humans. This curiosity led Bianca’s undergraduate research project: “Skin Microbes: Culturable vs. Unculturable”. Bianca explored the microbiome of the upper chest by comparing species of bacteria that can be cultured on a simple petri dish and bacteria that can only be determined through metagenomics. This experiment gave great insight into the lack of information, yet extensive realm of The Human Microbiome Project.
When Bianca is not in the lab, she is passionate about social outreach, art, and technology. She has served as a mentor for middle-school girls interested in pursuing STEM, at Stanford, as well as incoming first-generation low-income college students at SMC. She believes in the power of collaboration, expression, and innovation.
Field Operations Manager
Tjarn brings to Phylagen 30 years of experience in logistics, systems engineering, and operations management in diverse fields including sustainable fisheries, construction, and documentary filmmaking. He studied marine ecology in Alaska and Hawaii.
An avid sailor, Tjarn has crossed from the mainland to Hawaii and Japan, among other Pacific passages.
Katie is a professional lab rat with a wide range of experiences that make her an asset to Phylagen. From “lean” labs, to cGMP, to lab management, she has done it all! She has contributed to projects like tracking the migration of invertebrates in Bering Sea mud with rising sea temperatures, and discovering the best type of media to use for growing human neuronal stem cells in the lab. Her knowledge of human anatomy stems from time spent in a pathology lab dissecting specimen and assisting in autopsies. Her love of standardization and phobia of bureaucracy was picked up at a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant as a QA supervisor.
As an environmental enthusiast who is fascinated with the natural world around her, she can’t help but share her joy when seeing the first buds in spring or a spout from a whale out in the bay.
Katie graduated from Western Washington University with a B.S. in Environmental Science and Biology. In her free time she likes hiking, puzzles, playing sports, and cooking and eating great food. There are two loves in her life: her strapping and loving husband, and her 85 pound adopted husky/australian shepherd mix.
Dr. Simon Uribe is an evolutionary biologist with deep knowledge of genomics, phylogenomics, and computational biology. He started his academic career as a molecular systematist studying plants in the high Andes and developed novel approaches to generate genomic data quickly and cost effectively. With all the data he was generating, programming became a useful tool and later one of his passions. At Phylagen, he is combining his love for bioinformatics, big data, and biodiversity.
When not analyzing data, Simon enjoys traveling, running, and photography. He has lived in three different continents, backpacked around the world twice visiting over 35 countries, and has had photos featured by Lonely Planet and NPR.
Simon received his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Idaho and his B.S. in Biology from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. He conducted postdoctoral research in evolutionary and computational biology at the University of Missouri – St. Louis and at the University of Michigan.
Scientific Advisory Board
Scientific Advisor, UC Davis
Dr. Jonathan Eisen is a Professor at the Genome Center at the University of California, Davis and holds appointments in the Department of Evolution and Ecology in the College of Biological Sciences and the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology in the School of Medicine.
Dr. Eisen’s research focuses on communities of microbes. His overarching research goal is to create a “Field Guide to Microbes” – such as exists for birds or trees. He is widely known as a leading authority on studies of microbes based on DNA sequencing, is an author on more than 300 papers on this topic, and is one of the most highly cited researchers in the field.
His research focuses on the mechanisms underlying the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). Most of his work involves the use of high-throughput DNA sequencing methods to characterize microbes and then the use and development of computational methods to analyze this type of data. In particular, his computational work has focused on phylogenomics, the integration of evolutionary analysis with genome analysis. Currently he is using sequencing and phylogenomic methods to study microbes directly in their natural habitats (i.e., without culturing). The main habitats he studies currently are microbiomes of plants, animals and the built environment.
Prior to moving to UC Davis he was on the faculty of The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Maryland. He earned his PhD in Biological Sciences from Stanford University, and his AB in Biology from Harvard College. Dr. Eisen was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology in 2012.
Scientific Advisor, Max Planck Insitutes
Dr. Christina Warrinner is an Associate Professor of Microbiome Sciences at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma, a Visiting Associate Professor at the Center for Biological Sequence Analysis at the Technical University of Denmark, and a Research Affiliate in the Molecular Research Group at the University of Zurich. She also holds the title of Presidential Research Professor and is an adjunct professor of Periodontics at the University of Oklahoma’s College of Dentistry.
Dr. Warrinner is a biomolecular archeologist who uses tissue samples from ancient skeletons and mummies to research how humans have evolved to adapt to changing environments over the last 10,000 years. Through this research she pioneered the field of generating low biomass microbiome samples using high-throughput metagenomics and metaproteomics approaches, and she co-built and co-directed one of the world’s most state-of- the-art clean room DNA analysis facilities focused on ancient microbiome work at the University of Oklahoma. Her research has been featured in Science, Cell, Nature Genetics, Nature Reviews Microbiology, the Los Angeles Times, the New Scientist, CNN, and Fox News, and Discover Magazine included her research in its top 100 stories of 2014.
Dr. Warrinner is a 2016 CARTA Fellow, a 2014 Kavli Foundation Fellow (US National Academy of Sciences) and a 2012 TED Fellow; her TED Talks have been viewed more than 1,5000,000 times. Her research has been featured in several short documentaries, including Archaeology of the Invisible (Illumina), Ancestral Microbiomes (Illumina), and a film played at the 2011-2012 UZH Mummy Exhibition. She earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University, and received her postdoctoral training at the University of Zurich, Switzerland and the University of Oklahoma.
Scientific Advisor, Rakuten, Inc.
Dr. Eric Berlow is the Co-Founder and President of Vibrant Data, Inc., which was acquired by Rakuten, Inc., where he now serves as Head of Science for its Slice Technologies division. He is an ecologist, network scientist, and data scientist who is internationally recognized for his research on ecological complexity – with articles in Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that have received ISI’s Most Highly Cited Papers awards. His two talks on TED.com on finding hidden patterns in complex data have together received over 2 million views. Prior to Vibrant Data, Eric was the founding director of the University of California’s first science institute inside Yosemite National Park, which focused on guiding data-driven decisions for protecting natural ecosystems.
Eric has received numerous awards including a TED Senior Fellowship, an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship, and GE’s “Architects of Innovation” award. He was named one of the Top 100 Creatives Changing the World by Origin Magazine. Dr. Berlow holds a B.A. in Biology from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Ecology from Oregon State University.
Scientific Advisor, Rakuten, Inc.
Dr. Rich Williams is currently a senior data scientist at Slice Technologies, a division of Rakuten, Inc., where he is developing analytical methods and visualization techniques for large-scale, high dimensional data. Dr. Williams is both an accomplished software engineer and computer scientist and a highly published complex systems scientist with a career spanning commercial and academic environments. His previous positions include Data Scientist at Vibrant Data, Inc. (acquired by Rakuten, Inc.), Senior Software Engineer and Data Scientist at Quid, Inc., and Founder of the Computational Ecology and Environmental Science group at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK. He has also conducted research at numerous universities including UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Santa Cruz.
Dr. Williams’ research has focused on understanding ecosystems as complex networks and complex dynamical systems by using tools and techniques that connect ecology and computer science. He has published over 50 papers, including highly cited work in Nature and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. His broad scientific interests have also led to publications in conservation biology, earth systems modeling, physical oceanography and fluid dynamics, and his work in computer science has led to publications in data semantics, data integration and visualization techniques. Dr. Williams holds a BS and MS in ocean engineering from MIT and a Ph.D. in physical oceanography from Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
Scientific Advisor, Founder Point Energy Innovations
Peter is the Founder of Point Energy Innovations and is internationally recognized for his innovation and leadership in the sustainability and energy efficiency fields. He has designed more LEED Platinum, Zero Energy and radiant cooled buildings than any other engineer in the United States. Peter is an ASHRAE Fellow, Senior Fellow of Rocky Mountain Institute and a professor at Stanford University. In 2012, the Association of Energy Engineers awarded him the International Renewable Energy Innovator of the Year. In 2013 he was honored by ASHRAE with the Engineering Award of Excellence, only awarded 4 times in ASHRAE’s 100-year history.
Scientific Advisor, UCSF and the Gladstone Institutes
Dr. Katherine Pollard is a Professor at UCSF and Director at the Gladstone Institutes, where she leads an innovation hub focused on emerging technologies and informatics. She has published extensively in many areas of genomic research and bioinformatics, and her research group has contributed a large number of widely-used, open-source software projects in comparative genomics and metagenomics.
Dr. Pollard has previously worked at UC Santa Cruz and UC Davis on research that spanned from developing computationally intensive statistical methods for analysis of microarray data with applications in cancer biology to sequencing the chimp genome, which she leveraged to identify the fastest evolving regions in the human genome.
Dr. Pollard earned her PhD in Biostatistics from UC Berkeley, is a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, and was selected as a Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator.
Scientific Advisor, Yale University
Dr. Jordan Peccia is Professor of Environmental Engineering at Yale University. The Peccia lab uniquely integrated physical aerosol processes with molecular biology-based tools to understand the dynamics and sources of biological aerosols in and out of buildings. He is recognized as a leader in the study of building microbiomes with contributions on how building design, operation, and occupancy impact human exposure to microbes, and for revealing important associations between building microbial diversity and asthma.
Peccia served on the 2017 National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine study on “Microbiomes of the Build Environment”. He is associate editor for the journal Indoor Air and a member of the board of directors for the American Association for Aerosol Research. He is chair of the inaugural Gordon Research Conference on Microbiology of the Built Environment and was inducted into the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering in 2017. Peccia is recipient of the major graduate mentoring and engineering teaching awards at Yale University.