Welcome, Cohort Three!

Third Cohort of Innovators to Start at Cyclotron Road Next Week


We're thrilled to announce our third cohort of innovators, who will be joining Cyclotron Road in April and early May. This year's applicant pool was stellar, making for a highly competitive four-month selection process for our team and reviewers. These ten individuals rose to the top, consistently impressing and inspiring us with their vision, commitment, and drive. We can't wait to dive into the next two years with them; now the real work starts!

Check out a snapshot of the cohort below, or skip down to their full bios and project descriptions.


Cyclotron Road Cohort Three:

Adam Vaughan

Founder, Dauntless.io

Bio: For over a decade, Adam Vaughan has focused his efforts on the intersection of physical systems and computer control. His work has included engine control electronics for custom race cars (Formula SAE), robotics, electric motor control, and the application of machine learning algorithms to complex, near-chaotic engine combustion. Adam earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and M.Eng. / B.Eng. under full scholarship from The Cooper Union in New York City. For the past two years, Adam has worked on distributed electricity generation at EtaGen, Inc., a startup in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Project description: There is a wave of innovation happening in the field of machine learning right now, but most of the emphasis has been outside of energy-related applications. In his Ph.D. research, Adam demonstrated that machine learning can predict and control over 20 percent more efficient engine combustion in ways not yet achieved with traditional physics-based methods. At Cyclotron Road, Adam will refine his technology into an easy-to-use product that enables engineers to apply machine learning for greater energy efficiency and reduced carbon dioxide emissions in combustion and other energy-related fields.


David Bierman

founder, Marigold power

Bio: David Bierman completed his Ph.D. from MIT in mechanical engineering. While at MIT, he and team member Prof. Andrej Lenert (University of Michigan) developed a novel solar-driven thermophotovoltaic converter that is capable of harnessing the entire solar spectrum for power generation. Their research, under the supervision of Prof. Evelyn Wang and Prof. Marin Soljacic, helped revitalize the field and established the current world record for solar-to-electrical conversion efficiency for this technology.

Project description: Marigold Power has developed a solar thermophotovoltaic device that captures the sun’s energy in the form of high-temperature heat and uses it to drive tunable thermal emission towards a single-junction photovoltaic cell. By integrating high-temperature thermal energy storage capabilities, solar thermophotovoltaics become a very attractive solution for continuous, on-demand power generation as a scalable, solid-state, high-efficiency converter. During his Ph.D., David's work improved the performance of this device by a factor of five from past demonstrations by incorporating state-of-the-art nanophotonic materials that allow for unprecedented spectral control.


David Walther

Cofounder, nelumbo

Bio: Prior to founding Nelumbo, David Walther spent eight years in research and development, and engineering management roles for Cobalt Technologies, an international renewable chemicals and biofuels company. He has over 10 years of experience directing research teams focused on developing and implementing microsystems in the areas of biosensing, power and energy at the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center. Dr. Walther received B.S. degrees in materials science & engineering and B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley.

Project description: Nelumbo has developed a metamaterial coating for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) applications that has demonstrated efficiency increases of up to 30 percent on air side heat exchangers. The coating properties approach the theoretical limit for commonly used characterization metrics like contact angle. This “run-dry” coating can be added to HVAC systems to reduce unit footprints, increase efficiency, reduce maintenance frequency, increase indoor air quality, diminish frosting, and mitigate some of the cost and corrosion issues that will arise during the legislated refrigerant change out.


Jessica Morrison

founder, Helux

Bio: Jessica Morrison began conceptualizing novel micromirror-based lighting architectures while earning a Ph.D. in physics from Boston University. After graduating in 2016, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications (LESA) NSF Engineering Research Center focused on dynamic free-space optical communications using microelectromechanical systems. Prior to founding Helux in 2016, Jessica received the Boston University Office of Technology Development Ignition Award to begin commercialization of a specially designed micromirror. She also holds a B.S. in physics from the University of Cincinnati.

Project description: Helux seeks to further develop a controllable micromirror based lighting system fabricated using standard microelectromechanical system (MEMS) processes. With this technology, users can electronically adjust light direction, focus, and brightness in a package that is ten times smaller and cheaper than existing mechanical systems. Integrating these capabilities within a network-connected smart lighting system will provide users with task, accent, and ambient lighting on an as-needed basis, enabling energy savings 40 to 70 percent greater than replacing existing fixtures with energy efficient options alone.


Joe Geddes

founder, photia INC.

Bio: Joseph Geddes has extensive practical experience developing scalable 2D and 3D nanolithography methods, both in industry and academia. He founded Photia Incorporated to commercialize advances in holographic lithography and materials for energy applications. As a postdoc, he worked with Paul Braun's group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to make photonic crystals using holographic lithography. As an engineer at the company Rolith, he made key experimental and theoretical contributions to the development of Rolling Mask Lithography, a method for making two-dimensional nanostructured coatings. He earned his Ph.D. in engineering science and mechanics from the Pennsylvania State University.

Project description: Photia Inc. is developing methods for high-throughput manufacturing of three dimensional (3D) nanostructured materials. The use of 3D nanostructures fundamentally enables advances in critical energy applications like organic solid state lighting, radiative cooling, photovoltaics, batteries, and lightweight high-strength composites.


Lance Brockway

coFounder, Nelumbo

Bio: Lance received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University in 2014 with an emphasis on nanostructured thermoelectric composites and crystal growth. Following his doctorate work he was a visiting scholar at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and, most recently, a postdoctoral scholar at a joint venture between UC Berkeley and the National University of Singapore. As a member of this program, he led a research and development team at Berkeley and a manufacturing team in Singapore to reinvent the air conditioner for efficient operation in tropical climates. He has co-authored multiple patents and scientific papers and sat on the board of the Berkeley Postdoctoral Entrepreneur Program (BPEP) where he taught scientists how to move research from lab to market.

Project description: Nelumbo has developed a metamaterial coating for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) applications that has demonstrated efficiency increases of up to 30 percent on air side heat exchangers. The coating properties approach the theoretical limit for commonly used characterization metrics like contact angle. This “run-dry” coating can be added to HVAC systems to reduce unit footprints, increase efficiency, reduce maintenance frequency, increase indoor air quality, diminish frosting, and mitigate some of the cost and corrosion issues that will arise during the legislated refrigerant change out.


Lauren Otto

Founder, Laminera

Bio: Lauren Otto is a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at the University of Minnesota. She has extensive research experience in optics, nanofabrication, materials, and devices including sensors, solar cells, and hard drive heads. While an interning at HGST (now part of Western Digital Corporation) in 2014, Lauren developed a passion for synthetic metals like titanium nitride. She is currently completing her thesis work at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry, where she is developing techniques for industrial deposition of plasmonic titanium nitride. Her work has resulted in over ten peer reviewed articles and conference proceedings. Lauren also holds B.S. and B.A. degrees in physics and mathematics from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN.

Project description: Synthetic metals are ceramic materials with conductivity comparable to metals with increased chemical and structural stability. Laminera is developing plasma enhanced atomic layer deposition processes to enable conformal deposition of ultrathin synthetic metal layers on arbitrary substrates. Realization and commercialization of such technology promises to revolutionize electrochemical and plasmonic devices by providing routes to structured supercapacitors and photoelectrodes and enabling fabrication of high power density plasmonic structures for the future of magnetic recording.


Sarah Richardson

Founder, Microbyre

Bio: Dr. Sarah Richardson hails from west Baltimore. She earned a B.S. in biology from the University of Maryland in 2004 and a Ph.D. in human genetics and molecular biology from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2011. She specializes in the design of genomes: as a DOE Computational Graduate Fellow she designed a synthetic yeast genome; as a Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow of Genomics at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory she worked on massive scale synthetic biology projects and the integration of computational genomics with experimental genomics; and as Chief Scientific Officer of Microbyre she leads the construction of genomic toolkits for non-model prokaryotes. All of which is to say that she uses DNA to teach bacteria to do tricks on command. Trained in both computational and molecular biology, she has a very unique perspective on the emerging technologies made possible by “synthetic” biology.

Project description: Microbial production looks like a promising way to make energy a renewable resource; instead of wrenching fossil fuel from the earth and messily refining it we could put food scraps in a fermenter and decant diesel. But the bacteria that natively produce fuel and fuel precursors are currently impossible to genetically modify, and attempts to borrow their genes for use in genetically tractable organisms have established that these pathways are non transferrable at scale. Microbyre's technology will give bioengineers the ability to manipulate previously intractable host bacteria at the genome level, an unprecedented feat that will allow us to rapidly engineer fuel and fuel-precursor making microbes to produce marketable titers.


Supriya Jaiswal

Founder, Astrileux

Bio: Supriya Jaiswal holds bachelors and masters degrees in physics from the University of Oxford, a masters degree in atomic physics and a Ph.D. in engineering physics from the University of Virginia, and professional qualifications in business and finance from University of California, San Diego. In 2015 Supriya was elected to SPIE Senior Member for distinction and honors in optics and photonics. She was listed on SPIE’s 2016 Women in Optics.

Project description: Astrileux’s technology helps accelerate the rate of manufacture of next generation semiconductors. This advance has the potential to significantly reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of next generation electronics manufacturing. In partnership with CASIS, Astrileux’s technology also helps pave the way for next generation electronics manufacturing in space, which will ultimately be cheaper than on earth.


Vince Romanin

Founder, Treau

Bio: Vince Romanin received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from U.C. Berkeley, with a focus on heat transfer, fluid mechanics, and energy & resources. Vince’s doctoral thesis focused on momentum transport in fluid flow in rotating microchannels for a Tesla turbine. Prior to Cyclotron Road, he was a mechanical engineer and research scientist at Otherlab where he focused on analysis of thermal and pneumatic systems for solar applications. At Otherlab, he was the project lead on a hybrid solar photovoltaic and thermal system under the ARPA-e FOCUS program, led by Tulane University. Prior to Otherlab, Vince worked with Abengoa Research on advanced heat transfer fluids, properties, and chemistries for the Solar industry.

Project description: Indirect and direct building emissions account for 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, or 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year. About half of this can be attributed to space heating and cooling. Global economic development will spur a dramatic expansion in the use of air conditioning, significantly increasing quality of life, but with existing technologies this will require a huge increase in energy production from unsustainable sources. Treau's polymer membrane heat exchangers can provide heat transfer at an order of magnitude lower cost and weight, which will enable space heating and cooling that is half as energy intensive.