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 10+ 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.

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.

Scott Witte

Site Manager

Scott manages Manta’s lab testing, field operations, and safety measures. He brings to the team extensive experience with reaction chemistry and field experimentation. Since being with Manta, Scott has led the validation testing of the company’s core technology, and he has also developed company-wide procedures to ensure compliance with OSHA standards. Scott holds dual Bachelors’ degrees in Chemistry and Environmental Science from Goucher College, and he holds an OSHA 1910 Training Certificate in General Industry safety standards.

Max Marshall


Max works on the design, manufacture, and testing of Manta’s harvesting technology. Through both Manta and his personal projects, Max has years of experience designing and building physical equipment. He brings to the team both a practical knowledge of how to make equipment work, and an ability to always find creative, novel solutions to difficult problems. At Manta, Max has been a key contributor to the development of the company’s revolutionary harvesting system, and he has also led the development of the company’s innovative manufacturing processes. Max holds a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

Gabe Mantegna

Engineer and Grants Manager

Gabe splits his time between developing Manta’s algae harvesting technology, and managing the company’s finances and public-facing communications. Through his training as an Environmental Engineer, Gabe has experience designing water treatment technologies, as well as working with biological systems, both of which are key to developing Manta’s processes. Due in part to his passion for art and filmmaking, he also brings to the team a sense for storytelling and aesthetics. Gabe holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.


Jada is an industry expert at keeping all of Manta’s employees in a good mood. She knows what it takes to convince anyone around her to play with her.

Our Advisors

Steven Davey
Dr. Nick Hammond
Dr. Russell Hill

Our Partners