ATEC Team Spotlight

Let’s meet Dr. Philip T Pienkos, a member of the ATEC team and the Algae Foundation board.

Dr. Pienkos earned his B.S. in Honors Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin. He is currently Strategic Project Lead in the National Bioenergy Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He has more than 35 years of biotechnology experience in the pharmaceutical, chemical and energy sectors. He is a co-founder of two companies: Molecular Logix, an early stage drug discover/development company, and Celgene, a major biotech/pharma company.

He joined NREL in August, 2007 as Principal Research Supervisor to work in various aspects of cellulosic ethanol and algal biofuels production, and he has helped to established new areas for the biofuels R&D program including biological methane upgrading and waste to energy. He was promoted to Principal Group Manager in May, 2011 and refocused his efforts as Strategic Project Lead in 2018. Phil is principal investigator for two algae projects, one funded by DOE, focused on development of multi-product biorefinery concepts based on complete valorization of algal biomass, and one funded by the global mining company, BHP, to develop algal cultivation as means to remediate the water and produce biofuels at inactive mining sites.

He is heavily involved in partnership development efforts, and currently leads a small group of NREL scientists and engineers in the development of entrepreneurial skills for repurposing core technologies to expand R&D mission space. He is part of a team of algae experts from NREL and Sandia National Laboratory who worked with the Department of Energy to organize the National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap Workshop held in December, 2008 and was a contributor to the National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap document, published in May 2010, designed to be an instrument in the acceleration of the commercialization of algal biofuels.

Philip is a founding member of the Algae Biomass Organization and the Algae Foundation and has served as a member of the board of directors for both of those organizations. He has been named in Biofuels Digest’s list of the top 100 people in biofuels every year since that survey was established.