We're a dedicated team working to change the world.

Ryan Powell, Ph.D.


Ryan leads Manta’s operations and brings a unique perspective to the development of algal biofuels. Rare among scientists, he has 15+ years of practical experience in large scale agriculture from working on his family’s 2000 acre grain farm. This experience provides practical judgment on what can and cannot be done when producing a low cost commodity (such as oil) on large tracts of land. His focus on pragmatic, cost effective solutions that scale has been the key to Manta’s success in bringing down production costs. This pragmatic problem solving mentality is backed by a deep knowledge of the field of algal biofuels which was the focus of his Ph.D. research. Since founding Manta, he has led his team through the successful completion of more than ten peer-reviewed awards that the company has received. Ryan holds a Ph.D. in algal biofuels from the University of Maryland, and is the inventor of the company’s magnetic algae harvesting technology and low cost continuous flow hydrothermal liquefaction system.

Onur Unal, MS, MBA


Onur oversees Manta’s business and fundraising activities. A seasoned entrepreneur with 15+ years of biotechnology industry experience, Onur has extensive experience with startups in product and business management capacities. He holds an M.S. in Pharmacology and an M.B.A. from Penn State University.

Andrew Wills

Director of Finance

Andrew is a Founding Managing Partner at 301 Ventures where he co-leads the fundraising, portfolio company management, and due diligence efforts, and also works with the junior team to evaluate investment opportunities and prepare them for careers in finance and at startups. Prior to 301, Andrew worked with OnboardIQ, a hiring-automation company with over $11M in backing from Y Combinator and Uncork Capital, and New Markets Venture Partners, a venture fund focused on education technology. Andrew graduated from the University of Maryland in May 2017 with a degree in Finance. Andrew believes 301 Ventures is the perfect vehicle for uniting the vast and enormously successful UMD network around the shared values of entrepreneurship and investing.

Brian Ratigan, P.E.

Senior Chemical Engineer

Brian oversees the development and scale-up of Manta’s technical processes. Having spent 43 years working with industrial chemical engineering processes, Brian is an expert in demonstrating and scaling emerging chemical process technologies. He has extensive experience in chemical, petroleum, biotech and biodiesel process development, and he is the author of 8 patents on chemical processes.

John Sturgis

Lead Engineer

John leads the design, manufacture, and testing of Manta’s harvesting technology. He is an expert at designing and implementing practical engineering solutions to novel process ideas. Since being with Manta, he has led the design and implementation of the company’s current algae harvesting system, as well as the design and testing of many complementary technologies. John holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from Goucher College.

Zachary Schwartz


Zach designs and engineers the mechanical prototypes for Manta’s systems, devising innovative solutions to mechanical problems for all parts of the harvesting process. He brings his previous work and knowledge in design of large systems, as well as his entrepreneurial know-how from his own start-up, to his role at Manta. Zach holds a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.

Kerry Powell | Manta Biofuel

Kerry Powell

Grants Manager

Kerry manages Manta’s grants, finances and accounting. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Towson University and has 15 years of clinical and research laboratory experience.

Our Advisors

Steven Davey | Manta Biofuel
Steven Davey
Dr. Nick Hammond | Manta Biofuel
Dr. Nick Hammond
Dr. Russell Hill | Manta Biofuel
Dr. Russell Hill

Our Partners