PhD Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley
Current Position: Founder and Science Director, Kula Bio
Kelsey Sakimoto is a chemist interested in the sustainable production of fertilizer and beneficial soil microorganisms through solar energy for use in modern agriculture.
Kelsey earned his BS in chemical engineering from Yale University in 2012 while working with the laboratory of Prof. André D. Taylor on carbon nanotube photovoltaic devices. As a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow with Prof. Peidong Yang at UC Berkeley, he earned his PhD in chemistry in 2016. While at UC Berkeley, he designed hybrid inorganic-biological organisms capable of high efficiency conversion of solar energy and carbon dioxide to fuels, food, plastics, and pharmaceutical products.
As an Environmental Fellow, Kelsey worked collaboratively with Prof. Pamela Silver of Harvard Medical School and Prof. Daniel Nocera of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. The interdisciplinary work paired a photovoltaic "artificial leaf" and synthetically engineered microorganisms to catalyze the sustainable production of biofertilizers via solar energy. Additionally, the designer microorganisms themselves served as "smart" soil management agents to guard against over fertilization and detrimental agricultural runoff, as well as work symbiotically with plants and the native soil microbiome.