Our Team

Management Team

Dr. Eric Steen

Founder & CEO

At Lygos, Dr. Steens' primary responsibilities include establishing strategic vision, managing partnership and customer development, process commercialization, product development and fund raising. Dr. Steen is an expert in optimizing sugar to product conversion efficiency, and prior to co-founding Lygos he led efforts to engineer yeast for the conversion of sugars into fuels and chemicals at the Department of Energy's Joint BioEnergy Institute; these technologies resulted in numerous peer-reviewed publications and patents, which are in various stages of commercialization. Dr. Steen earned a BS in Biomedical Engineering from Brown University in Providence, RI and a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. While in graduate school, Dr. Steen completed a program in Management of Technology at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business.
Dr. Steen on LinkedIn

Dr. Jeffrey Dietrich

CTO & Founder

Jeffrey's expertise lies in metabolic engineering and development of high-throughput screening methods for improving production of small molecules. Some of Dr. Dietrich's primary responsibilities at Lygos include directing Lygos' strain optimization efforts, identifying new product opportunities, developing Lygos' intellectual property portfolio, and fund raising. Dr. Dietrich earned his BS in Bioengineering from Rice University and PhD in the same field from the UC Berkeley - UC San Francisco Joint Graduate Program in Bioengineering; additionally, Dr. Dietrich obtained his minor in business through the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.
Dr. Dietrich on LinkedIn

Mr. Johan van Walsem


Mr. van Walsem leads scale-up and commercialization at Lygos and is focused on building the operational infrastructure and supply chain in support of strategic partner and customers fulfillment. Mr. van Walsem has had a successful career spanning more than 25 years developing, scaling up and commercializing innovative biobased technologies and products including amino acids and PHA bioplastics. Before joining Lygos he served as Chief Operating Officer at Metabolix where he led the strategic restructuring to a specialty PHA business focus. Mr. van Walsem earned a Master's degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Pretoria and an M.B.A. from the University of South Africa. He is a named inventor on more than 20 US patents and patent applications.
Mr. van Walsem on LinkedIn


Dr. Jay D. Keasling

Lygos Founder

Dr. Keasling is a Professor of Chemical engineering and Bioengineering at the University of California-Berkeley, Associate Laboratory Director at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Chief Executive Officer of the Joint BioEnergy Institute, and Director of the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center. He joined the UC-Berkeley faculty in 1992 and is considered one of the foremost authorities in synthetic biology, especially in the field of metabolic engineering. Dr. Keasling is also a co-founder of Codon Devices, Amyris, and LS9.
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Dr. Leonard Katz

Lygos Founder

Dr. Katz currently serves as President of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology and Director of Research and Industry Relations for the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center. Prior to these roles, he was Vice President of Biological Sciences at Kosan Biosciences and Project Leader & Research Fellow at Abbott Laboratories.
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Dr. Richard Bailey

Dr. Bailey is currently consulting with numerous industrial biotechnology companies following a successful career spanning 34 years. During this career, he participated in, or managed the development, scale-up, and subsequent commercialization of several biochemical processes. He was the CEO of Microbia, Inc. and held senior management positions for several divisions of Monsanto with responsibilities for programs in both fermentation process development and agricultural biotechnology. Dr. Bailey has served as a Scientific Advisor to Allylix, BioAmber, and Bio Architecture Lab.
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Dr. Michael Cockrem

Dr. Cockrem has 25+ years experience in process development for commercialization of bio-based chemicals, including lactic acid, succinic acid, isoprene, 1,3-propanediol, and 1,4-butanediol with specific expertise in product purification and process modeling. Dr. Cockrem completed his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at University of Wisconsin-Madison, after coming to the USA from New Zealand as a Fulbright Scholar. He is an inventor for over 21 issued US patents or patent applications.
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Dr. Charles Cooney

Dr. Cooney is professor of chemical and biochemical engineering and faculty director for the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the MIT faculty as an assistant professor in 1970 and became a professor in 1982. Dr. Cooney is an expert in fermentation and downstream processing. He is on the board of directors of Genzyme and CUNO, Inc. and serves as a consultant to a number of biotech and pharmaceutical companies, from startups to global corporations.
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