Cohort 6

RYAN HACKLER

RYAN HACKLER

Ryan Hackler is a Ph.D. chemist with 10 years of research experience across various projects in the fields of aerospace engineering, surface science, catalysis, and polymer science. He earned a B.S. in Chemistry and B.A. in Politics/Philosophy/Economics from Western Washington University in 2014, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Northwestern University in 2019. Since acquiring his Ph.D., he developed and pioneered the catalytic technology responsible for converting plastic waste into higher value products while at Argonne National Laboratory.

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ROBERT KENNEDY

ROBERT KENNEDY

Robert Kennedy is a catalytic and solid-state chemist, driven to create novel solutions to real-world challenges, with over ten years of experience developing chemistry technologies for polymer waste upcycling and biofuels. He studied Chemistry with a concentration in Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Carleton College and earned a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry at Northwestern University for catalytic selectivity through metal-oxide interfaces. While a postdoc at Argonne National Laboratory, he was honored with the Impact Argonne Award for Innovation in 2019 and the PSE Excellence Award in 2020 for his work on catalytic upcycling of polymers.

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CHRISTOPHER NICHOLAS

CHRISTOPHER NICHOLAS

Chris Nicholas is Co-Founder and President of Låkril Technologies. Prior to founding Låkril, he spent 15 years at Honeywell UOP in technical and managerial roles primarily focused on inventing and catalytically testing new materials and processes. Particular foci include heterogeneous catalytic processes such as olefin oligomerization and alkylation, synthesis of inorganic materials (primarily metal oxides and zeolites), process engineering, molecular adsorption, and olefin metathesis. For this work, he was awarded the 2020 Herman Pines Award in Catalysis.

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 JOANNE RODRIGUEZ

JOANNE RODRIGUEZ

Joanne Rodriguez is the Founder & CEO of Mycocycle, which employs applied mycology to remove toxins from waste and create new biobased material inputs. Addressing the decarbonization of the waste management sector, she started the company with the goal of improving recycling rates of construction and demolition debris.

Prior to founding Mycocycle, Rodriguez was Director of Sustainability for a major manufacturer of building materials, headed an environmental consulting firm and continues to be recognized as a sustainability leader in the construction products industry. She is a specialist in technologies like the circular economy, biomimicry and green chemistry, and has decades of experience leading cross-divisional sales and technical teams to success.

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MICHELLE RUIZ

MICHELLE RUIZ

Michelle Ruiz is the CEO and co-founder of Hyfé Foods. She is a chemical engineer with 10 years of manufacturing experience with ExxonMobil and has bioengineering expertise in wastewater treatment. Michelle has designed and implemented processes that reduce water pollution, managed a $5M sales territory, and started up a $250M refinery capital investment. Michelle holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

She founded Hyfé Foods in response to her mother’s diagnosis of pre-diabetes. She was frustrated with how difficult it is to avoid refined carbohydrates in foods. It makes disease prevention nearly impossible. To fix that, she decided to use bioengineering to make food that is good for people and the planet.

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SEAN SULLIVAN

SEAN SULLIVAN

Sean Sullivan pursued his undergraduate and master’s degrees in Materials Engineering at Purdue University (in 2012 and 2013, respectively). During a stint working at Toyota R&D, he gained an appreciation for the role cutting-edge materials physics could play in sustainable energy. He then joined the Quantum Materials for Sustainable Technologies group at UT Austin, where he performed his doctoral research on quantum transport in materials for applications in energy conversion and quantum information.

As a postdoctoral appointee at Argonne, his research focused on new materials and devices for quantum technologies, and he built out Chicago’s metropolitan-scale quantum communication testbed.

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Manish Kumar Singh

Manish Kumar Singh

Singh is a Ph.D. student in quantum engineering at the University of Chicago. He completed his undergrad at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, majoring in chemical engineering. Before starting his Ph.D., he worked at TSMC R&D– working first on the development of 16nm process technology and then on the development and integration of resistive memory (RRAM) into the transistor backend. He’s used opportunities at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business to develop entrepreneurial acumen, working as a venture fellow in the ‘Lab to Launch’ course.

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