Meet our TeamAbout us
Philip T. Pienkos
CEO and Co-founder
Dr. Philip T. Pienkos earned in B.S. in Honors Biology at the University of Illinois and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin. After short stints in big pharma and big chem, spent twenty years in biotech startups and was a co-founder of two companies: Molecular Logix, a technology-rich, cash-poor drug discover/development company, and Celgene, a major biotech/pharma company, recently purchased by Bristol-Myers Squibb for $74B. He is currently the CEO of Polaris Renewables and Emeritus Scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, where he served as Principal Group Manager to work in various aspects of cellulosic ethanol and algal biofuels production. He demonstrated his versatility at NREL by establishing new areas for the biofuels R&D program including biological methane upgrading and conversion of wet wastes such as brown grease and spent coffee grounds to biofuels and bioproducts. He co-invented technology for the production of fully renewable non-isocyanate polyurethanes to serve as a value-added coproduct for renewable fuel biorefineries, and this technology is the cornerstone of Polaris Renewables which he founded in April, 2020 after retiring from NREL. Philip is a founder of the Algae Biomass Organization and the Algae Foundation and currently serves as a member of the board of directors for the latter organization. He has been named in Biofuels Digest’s list of the top 100 people in biofuels every year since that survey was established.
Dr. Tao Dong earned B.S. and M.S. in Food Chemistry at the Jiangnan University, China. He then studied at Washington State University and got Ph.D. in Biological System Engineering (2013). He joined the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2013, working on multiple tasks, including microalgal biorefinery to produce biofuel and value-added co-products, waste to energy, catalytic upgrading, combustion kinetics, and metabolic analysis. He co-invented technologies to produce fully renewable non-isocyanate polyurethane resin and foam materials. He has been working with industry partners under the Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) to expand the portfolio of NIPU products for various applications.
Business Development Advisor
Ben Galphin spent most of his early years outside, instilling an appreciation for our natural resources and beautiful places. While pursuing his Textile Engineering degree at North Carolina State University, he worked at REI, interacting daily with customers and outdoor gear manufacturers, which highlighted importance of the customer’s voice to a product’s success.
Following university, he began working at Patagonia, Inc at the headquarters in Ventura, California. Through his time at the company, he gained extensive hands-on experience working with international and domestic textile and apparel manufacturers, testing and developing technical materials and product, and eventually he assumed responsibility for the material innovation strategy of the company’s most technical material and product.
Inspired that companies can be successful through dedication to a multiple-bottom-line, he founded Outsider Innovation in November 2019, a company dedicated to the belief that better product is ultimately better for our planet and its people, more sustainable and profitable. Since then, he have helped companies develop and commercialize new products and technologies in the Textile, Apparel, and adjacent industries.
Devon A. Shipp
Prof. Devon A. Shipp completed a B.Sc. (Hons) in chemistry (1993), and then Ph.D. (1998) at the University of Melbourne (Australia). He then accepted the Bayer Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) with Prof. Kris Matyjaszewski. In 1999 he began his independent research career at Clarkson University in northern New York State where he currently full Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science and Director of the Center for Advanced Materials Processing (CAMP). His research group focuses on new polymer chemistries, particularly radical polymerizations, nanocomposites, and degradable polymers for bio-related applications. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Slovenia in 2015, hosted by the Slovenian National Institute of Chemistry and the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology at the University of Ljubljana.