Deniz Kent, PhD
Co-founder & CEO
Deniz started his career working with adenosine blockers in a cancer immunotherapy lab at the University of Bristol, receiving a number of awards including most innovative research project and best student to continue in research. Next, Deniz went to GlaxoSmithKline to work on a single-dose cure for Asthma, receiving the Glaxo award for “outstanding contribution to research”. Next, Deniz conducted a PhD in the Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine at King's College London, where he co-discovered a new human liver stem cell population and conducted the world’s first high throughput small molecule screen using IPS-derived hepatocytes. During his PhD, Deniz conceived of the idea for Prolific Machines, and he spent three years searching for the right co-founders. He eventually found and convinced Declan and Max to quit their jobs, and together they developed the idea into the company you are looking at today.
Max Huisman, PhD
Co-founder & CTO
Studied Applied Physics at the Delft University of Technology, during which he was also working as a Freelance web developer. Next, he conducted a masters in Applied Physics, working part-time at a sensor manufacturing company to finance his education. Next, Max conducted a PhD in Applied Physics at the RNA Therapeutics Institute at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he conceived, designed and built the world’s first super-resolution cryogenic microscope, among many other groundbreaking inventions such as 4D-point-spread-function engineering. He continued as a PostDoc until Deniz convinced him to quit his job! He speaks 5 languages, has co-authored 10+ academic publications, and is the holder of 4 patents. He has deep expertise in rapid prototyping, CAD/CAM design, numerical simulation, electrical/mechanical engineering and graphic design. Max is not only academically brilliant, but combines this with a level of creativity which is extremely rare in engineers.
Co-founder & CDO
Studied History and Computer Science at UC Berkeley, graduating with High Honors. Declan specialized in Machine Learning, AI, and image processing, wrote his History honors thesis on Late Antiquity, and studied Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, and Akkadian. While at UC Berkeley, Declan was very involved in the Berkeley Student Cooperative and was elected House Manager of a 124 person co-op, Casa Zimbabwe, for 2 consecutive terms, gaining invaluable management experience. After graduating, Declan joined Zillow Group as a DS/ML Engineer. Here, Declan spent 4.5 years conceiving, building, and improving RentalBrain - the centralized rental fraud prediction model used across all Zillow Group brands. Declan handled everything necessary to keep RentalBrain running smoothly (data pipeline, DevOps, monitoring), gaining hands-on experience with all aspects of developing and maintaining ML services at production scale. Declan is a full-stack data / ML engineer and the perfect person to lead our Data Team.
Victor Jones, PhD
Victor started his career conducting a PhD in Plant Genetics at the University of Oxford, where he worked on the characterization of genes that control the development of rhizoid rooting cells. He continued as a PostDoc characterizing the role of transcription factors in the development of epidermal cells. Next Victor conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Heidelberg, studying the molecular basis of coral-algae endosymbiosis. Victor was awarded two prestigious fellowships, the Alexander van Humboldt and the EMBO long-term post-doctoral fellowships. Victor continued post-doctoral research at the University of Wageningen, working on proteomic identification of the plant cell polarity machinery. Through his myriad experiences at top-tier research facilities, Victor has become world-class at designing and executing complex genetic strategies. Victor's knowledge spans a vast number of fields, and the voracity and speed at which he tackles new challenges is astonishing.
Monique Hooley, PhD
Head of Cell Biology
Studied Pharmacology at the University of Bristol, where she graduated with First Class Honours, won a number of awards including best dissertation research project, and received the highest grade in a class of 150 people. During her undergraduate degree, Monique spent a year full time at Pfizer where she conducted site-directed mutagenesis of the μ-opiod receptor, in order to aid the development of new drugs to treat pain without the unwanted side effects. During her time at Pfizer she developed deep technical expertise in cloning, FRET, and radioligand binding assays. Next Monique embarked on a Wellcome Trust funded PhD at the University of Edinburgh, where she studied astrocyte dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease, building deep expertise in mammalian cell culture, RNA-seq, array tomography, and molecular biology. Alongside her PhD, Monique consulted for 3 startups and conducted an internship at M Ventures.
Emily Gale, PhD
Head of Material Science
Studied Chemistry at Swarthmore College, where she received the ACS Scholastic Achievement Award, which is awarded to the major with the highest GPA. As an undergrad, she studied materials for brain sensors, plasmid design, and quorum sensing in bacteria. Next, Emily attended Stanford University for her PhD in Biochemistry. During her PhD, she worked on interdisciplinary projects using novel polymer-based materials to improve delivery of subunit vaccines and cancer immunotherapies. She developed deep expertise in immunological assays, mammalian cell culture, protein engineering, and material synthesis/characterization. Emily designed and led several research projects, including the development of two different nanoparticle platforms to improve potency of various adjuvant molecules, the development of a hydrogel delivery system for COVID-19 subunit vaccines, and a hydrogel system to overcome delivery limitations of the promising small molecule adjuvant, cGAMP.
Head of Prototyping
Studied Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, graduated with High Honors (Top 5% of Graduating Class), and received several distinctions such as the department award for Excellence in Research, an Edison-McNair scholarship, and multiple high honors within the Condensed Matter subdepartment. Madeleine was well known in the Physics Department for her work mentoring underrepresented minority students in STEM. She has worked as a materials scientist at Leibniz Institute of Technology, as a programmer for the Ichiba Group, and as a systems integration engineer at Lockheed Martin. Most recently, Madeleine was the Co-founder and CTO of Khepra, a chemical technologies company that develops ultrasonic reactors to process and valorize waste streams. There, she designed, built, operated, maintained, and optimized all of the infrastructure for three novel sonochemical reactors, all completed tens of thousands of dollars under budget.
Director of Laboratory Operations/Senior Scientist
Studied Cell and Developmental Biology with an emphasis in Neurobiology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has extensive academia and industry experience including establishing the research and development operations of a startup biotech company as a founding member and launching multiple successful academic labs from the ground up. She worked for over a decade at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Harvard University investigating the molecular and genetic basis of aging to develop novel therapeutic interventions to extend healthspan and lifespan. Most recently, Nessa worked at Rockefeller University employing a cross-species comparative approach to investigate how evolution acts on the brain to generate novel behaviors. She has expertise in molecular biology, CRISPR genome engineering, mammalian cell culture, model and non-model organisms, proof of concept research, project management, capital equipment acquisition and financial management of multimillion-dollar organizations.
Vidar van der Meijden
Head of Product
After graduating his Master's in Applied Physics in 2014, Vidar joined Rocket Internet in Yangon, Myanmar, shortly after it opened up for foreign business. At Rocket, he was part of the team starting the shop.com.mm online marketplace, currently the largest in the country. Returning to the Netherlands in 2015, he was selected for a 2 year technical management traineeship at talent development specialist ORMIT, through which he was placed at ASML - the world leader in lithography equipment for semiconductor chip manufacturing. At ASML, Vidar worked as a project manager for joint process & application development in DRAM and NAND with Samsung Electronics, one of ASML's largest customers. In this role, he excelled at managing complex projects with large, highly multidisciplinary project teams while building strong customer and internal stakeholder relationships. After being selected for ASML's ECAP leadership development program, he moved to Product Management, where he focused on development of new market segments and hardware & software product development for machine-learning supported optical metrology. With his diverse experience and technical aptitude, Vidar brings a wide range of people, project and product management skills to Prolific Machines.
Attended Santa Clara University, majoring in Bioengineering with an emphasis in Biomolecular Engineering. Will was awarded the prestigious Global Social Benefit Fellowship by the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and after working with pediatric burn surgeons, led a team that developed a skin grafting device for low-resource settings. Will also conducted research on the metastatic potential of cancer cells based on their focal adhesion strength. He became passionate about cultivated meat in 2018 and joined Mission Barns as employee #3, spending 3.5 years building their cell culture platform, including cell isolation, cell line development, and the fabrication of a novel bioreactor system. At Mission Barns Will developed deep expertise in automated liquid handling and built out an automated platform for optimizing serum-free media.
Head of Exploratory Biology
Samie is a well-traveled cell biologist, having worked in stem cell laboratories in his hometown of Toronto (Canada), followed by extended stints in Heidelberg (Germany), Basel (Switzerland), Leuven (Belgium), Los Angeles and now San Francisco. During this time, Samie’s research has also taken leaps and bounds, covering topics ranging from the generation of transgenic GFP/RFP mice to the regulation of genes that determine contractility and maturation of cardiac cells, to neuron-glial crosstalk in human neurodegenerative diseases. During his PhD at Katholike University of Leuven, he worked on deciphering astrocyte dysfunction in Dystrophin deficiency disorders using iPSC technology.
Next, Samie continued as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles, on a Hillblom foundation sponsored postdoctoral grant. Here, Samie developed deep expertise in organoid models of neurodegeneration involving astrocyte and microglial co-cultures in in vitro setting, and corresponding, extensive RNA sequencing studies.
At prolific machines, Samie has been tasked with broadening application of our proprietary technologies by developing advanced cell systems to tackle outstanding issues in the wider realm of industrial biotechnology.
Head of Synthetic Biology
John began his career as a synthetic biologist at UC Berkeley, where he focused on genome and protein engineering of microbes. After spending a short time in industry as a research scientist he pursued and completed a PhD in Biophysics at the University of California San Francisco, where he helped develop the emerging field of single cell sequencing through the use of droplet microfluidics. During his time in graduate school he founded two precision medicine companies from ideation through seed investment and developed foundational IP in the single cell genomics field. Since concluding his PhD he has built single-cell sequencing and spatial sequencing technologies for two early stage startups, consulted for a number of other genomics companies, and led a single cell genomics team at a privately funded research organization. He is a maker and engineer in addition to a scientist and loves creating new things. He is excited about the impact that synthetic biology will bring at the intersection of the three most massive population scale human behaviors of storytelling, building, and food.
Lab and Office Manager
Danielle achieved a B.S. in Animal Science and minor in International Studies. She believes that the most important part of her job is being behind the scenes, making sure everyone has everything they could possibly need in order to succeed. She also enjoys getting her hands dirty and participating in the hands on work. Before beginning her path at Prolific Machines, Danielle began her post-college career working as a Surgical Veterinary Technician. She later left and began her career in the biotech world working at an aging research company before she moving on to cancer research, vaccine development and neurological device research. Danielle has always wanted to make the world a better place for everyone and is very excited to achieve that goal with Prolific Machines.
Basanta received his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine where he demonstrated data-based evidence that DNA mismatch repair is required for DNA stability in different chromatin environments. Owing to his interest in solving real-world challenges, he joined Finless Foods in 2018 to pursue his interest in the field of cellular agriculture. As one of their earliest employees, he learned the art and science of cellular agriculture, as well as the start-up culture in the bay area. As a scientist, he conducted research projects in fish cell line development and their growth in 2D/3D environments as well as in the suspension in bench-top bioreactors. Additionally, he led research projects to optimize growth media using high throughput screening and DOE methods to achieve an optimal serum-free media for fish cell growth. His experience in various cell types ranging from microbes to fish and mammalian cell lines and a well-rounded skill set encompassing cell line development, media development, high throughput screening, assay development and automation makes him a valuable addition to our team.
Zahra started her journey in the field of materials by earning her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Materials Science and Engineering. In her M.Sc. research at the Sharif University of Technology, Zahra created a bone scaffold made of thermoplastic starch that is biodegradable and doesn't require a second surgery for scaffold removal. In 2015, Zahra moved to the U.S. to continue her studies in the field of materials science. She conducted her Ph.D. at the University of Montana (UM), where she was ranked first among materials science Ph.D. candidates in Montana State (UM, MSU, and MTech universities). As her Ph.D. project, Zahra developed smart electrospun fiber mats that detect the fever induced by infection to deliver antibacterial agent(s) to the infected tissue. The fiber structure she developed was featured as the cover image of the Journal of Applied Polymer Science. Zahra continued her journey as a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Biofilm Engineering in Bozeman, where she developed granular Matrigel scaffold to improve the permeability of Matrigel (a commonly used ECM). The granular Matrigel is currently used at several research centers for disease modeling and drug development studies. Zahra's scientific publications are cited more than 300 times. She speaks three languages. Zahra is passionate about solving big problems.
Head of Operations
George studied Economics at the University of Bristol, where he graduated with First Class Honors. Prior to joining Prolific he worked in Strategy Consulting for both OC&C Strategy Consultants and Eden McCallum where he worked with many of the worlds largest food service brands, consumer goods companies and private equity investors across the US and Europe. George joined Prolific seeing it as the perfect place to pair both his love of great food and his desire to help catalyze the fundamental change required to stem the worst impacts of climate change.
Baxter studied Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins before completing his Master’s with a focus in Mechatronics at Stanford. He has worked as a Mechatronics Engineer at Modular Bionics where he designed and tested implant and worn-units for neural stimulation and monitoring, and as an R&D Engineer at Scale Biosciences where he led the hardware division and brought custom cell-handling equipment from proof-of-concept to beta user testing. He has extensive experience with solid modeling on multiple platforms, rapid prototyping, CNC and manual machining, micro-fabrication, PCB and analog circuit design, thermal management, sensor integration, and device qualification. He has created cell and tissue models for biology interfacing devices and designed for long and short-term biocompatibility. He is an inventor on 2 patents and filed his first provisional patent in high school. Baxter combines broad technical expertise with artistic creativity, and a love of simple, elegant design aesthetics.
Senior Stem Cell Biologist
Pieter is a biologist with research and educational background in muscle stem cells, metabolism, and aging. He is also proficient in Python-based image analysis. His hobbies include reading, exercising, and barbecuing. Pieter is a retired rugby player and a big Springboks fan. He loves moral philosophy and animals, particularly dogs, and especially Rotties.
Raised in a family of restaurateurs and foodies, Brandon has been
surrounded by food his entire life. While pursuing his degree in
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at New York University, Brandon
realized his desire to apply the scientific method to food. Brandon
got his first taste of this relationship when he interned at
Analytical Flavor Systems as part of the R&D team. There, he worked
with other engineers and scientists to try to predict flavors and
market perception of food products using AI. Brandon’s fascination
with cultured meat grew the more he learned about the relationship
between food and science. This led him to pursuing his Master’s in
Bioengineering at UC Berkeley where he got the opportunity to work
with Prolific Machines as a research associate intern. Brandon is
excited to continue being part of the Prolific Machines team and to
saving the world!
Katarina fell in love with bioengineering research as an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh. This passion led her to work in labs all over the world, including in Germany at the Fraunhofer IGB and in Colorado at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute. Each of these experiences were foundational to her deep understanding of the intersection of stem cell biology and engineering.
After earning her bachelors degree in chemical engineering, Katarina moved across the country to study stem cell biology at Stanford University. She was awarded the competitive National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to fund her studies. As a member of the Heilshorn Lab, Katarina leverages three-dimensional matrices to uncover how intestinal stem cells respond to radiation damage.
Katarina joins Prolific Machines with almost a decade of lab experience. She is incredibly excited to apply her expertise to solving one of the world’s current meatiest challenges: how can we continue to feed our communities, while ensuring sustainable practices for our planet?
Best Boy Officer
Chief Cuteness Officer
Chief Canine Officer