Our Team

MOJI KARIMI

Moji is the co-founder and CEO at Cemvita Factory. He is a multidisciplinary entrepreneur and engineer who helps ideate, develop, and commercialize ground-breaking technologies. He has a proven track record of taking ideas to market, both at big companies and startups. Moji's experiences range from developing advanced deepwater drilling methods to several new biologically inspired technologies with applications in the energy and aerospace industries. 

In his previous endeavor, Moji joined Biota Technology as the fourth employee of the company to start the Houston office and commercialize DNA Sequencing in the energy industry. In two years he grew Biota's business to multi-million dollars in revenue and played a key role in establishing Subsurface DNA Diagnostics as a common method for reservoir characterization. 

Moji holds BS and MS degrees in drilling and petroleum engineering, respectively.

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DR. TARA KARIMI

Tara is the co-founder and Chief Scientist at Cemvita Factory. She has devoted her academic career to studying biological systems and applying the natural principles to create biologically-inspired technology. Dr. Karimi started her research in veterinary medicine, and from there ventured into biochemistry. The introduction to biochemistry was the onset of her journey into multidisciplinary science as she  completed several projects in tissue engineering, genetic engineering, molecular and developmental biology, stem cell research, and regenerative medicine. As part of these endeavors she genetically programmed stem cells to differentiate to insulin producing cells as an alternative method for insulin injection for diabetes patients. She also programmed stem cells to generate pacemaker and purkinjie cells as an alternative for electronic pacemakers for treatment of arrhythmia. 

This broad exposure and passion for the chemistry of living systems allowed her to connect the dots in biology and chemistry to pioneer what she calls Cognitive Chemistry®. She is also the author of the Springer book titled “Molecular Mechanisms of Autonomy in Biological Systems by the Relativity of Code, Energy, and Mass”. Dr. Karimi received her Doctor in Veterinary Medicine & PhD in Biochemistry from Shiraz University, her Postdoc in Tissue Engineering from University of South Carolina and Postdoc in Stem Cell Programming from Tulane University.

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Team

Dr. Truong Nguyen

Dr. Truong Nguyen is the Head of Molecular Biology at Cemvita Faxtory. Truong is  a multidisciplinary scientist with a strong interest in the intersection of research development and technological commercialization. Before joining Cemvita Factory, he led the Engineering team at Base Pair Biotechnologies. His team focused on developing commercial applications using aptamer, short and target-specific DNA molecules. Some of their achievements included early-stage diagnostic devices for opioid detection and agricultural management. Their work led to successful IP applications and three SBIR grants.

Truong conducted graduate work in Systems and Synthetic Biology using lab-on-a-chip devices to investigate the behavior of genetic networks under precise environmental control. His work demonstrated that individual cells of a clonal population can show remarkably different responses under the same environmental conditions, and consequently, have different outcomes in cell growth and fitness. The results contributed further understanding of how each individual can respond differently to similar events, such as a standard therapeutic treatment or a common stressful situation.

Truong hold BE and MS degrees in Biotechnology, and PhD from Rice University in Biochemistry and Cell Biology. As a member of Houston’s startup community, he has worked with Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, OwlSpark Accelerator, Enventure, and volunteered in several Rice Business Plan Competitions. 

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Astrid Countee

Astrid is the Chief of Staff at Cemvita Factory. Trained as a social scientist and technologist, Astrid carries a multidisciplinary background and various work experiences that have contributed to her unique approach. She has worked in the energy, healthcare, and tech industries in various roles around data management, research, community management, and software development. Prior to joining Cemvita Factory, Astrid worked at New Knowledge, an Austin based information integrity startup, running Data For Democracy which is a global community of data scientists working on social impact projects. She has also worked as Director for Tech for Justice at the Internet Bar Organization, and worked as a software engineer at HP, Inc, and several healthcare related startups. 


Astrid has 10 years of experience working in the energy industry as a data analyst and data management supervisor. She worked at Williams Energy as their first Training Data Analyst, creating and maintaining the company’s first centralized database and analysis tools for executive level business operations . Astrid also worked at TGS-Nopec, a geoscience data company, pioneering their production data management team and supervising well data management.

Astrid has also been a speaker at several conferences including, Code for America, EarthX, American Anthropological Association, and March for Science SiGNS conference where she has frequently shared her work and research on the social impact related to health, tech, and energy industries. Her passion for science and tech communication, sustainability, and data science have led her to participate in houston’s startup community as a mentor, volunteer and ambassador to global organizations. Astrid received her Master’s in Applied Anthropology from the University of Houston, her Bachelors in Psychology from Baylor University and is currently pursuing an interdisciplinary Masters in Math and Computer Science from the University of Houston - Victoria.

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Dr. Mehdi Kamali

Dr. Mehdi Kamali is the Head of Biochemistry at Cemvita Factory. Before joining Cemvita Factory, Mehdi was a Postdoctoral researcher at Harvard Medical School, Center for Nanomedicine and a graduate research assistant at Pennsylvania State University focusing on carbon dioxide adsorption through combining different instruments. His professional experience includes work as a Project Manager at the Research Institute of Petroleum Industry (RIPI) in natural gases division, process engineer at Pishgaman Catalyst Pars Company and Persia Energy Gostaresh Company.

His background includes a wide range of expertise in surface chemistry, material and biomaterial, and chemical and energy engineering. Mehdi's work has mainly focused on material synthesis and characterization, heterogeneous catalyst, adsorption processes, calorimetry techniques, kinetics and thermodynamics evaluations, structure-function relationship of polymer compounds, and modeling and simulation processes. Mehdi is experienced in scaling up the chemical processes from laboratory to pilot plant scale combining fundamental knowledge and practical skills. Also, he is skilled at the coupling of complex instruments and operando spectroscopy.

An accomplished multi-disciplinary researcher, he received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University and his Master of Chemical Engineering from Iran's University of Science and Technology.

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Dr. Dayana Muzziotti

Dr. Dayana Muzziotti is a Microbiologist at Cemvita Factory. An academically trained microbiologist, Dayana specializes in bio-energy, biotechnology and has also done work in genetics. 

She worked as a Research Scientist at Michigan State University performing research on light signaling mechanisms in blue-green algae before joining Cemvita Factory. Dayana has extensive experience in using microorganisms for applications in biotechnology and environmental management.

She received her PhD in Microbial Biotechnology from the University of Florence in Italy where she focused on Photo- biological H2 production and acclimation. She also holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Geotechnology from the University of Siena in Italy, and a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and Biotechnology from the University of Los Andes in Venezuela.

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Dr. Matin Hanifzadeh

Dr. Matin Hanifzadeh is a Technology Manager at Cemvita Factory. Matin is a chemical engineer who has worked in both academia and industry. He worked at White Energy as their QA Lab manager and at the University of Houston as part of the research staff, and the University of Toledo as a Research Engineer before joining Cemvita Factory. His academic and industrial work has focused on the development of technologies to address environmental problems such as climate change, and water/air pollution.

He is expertly skilled in developing technologies for low cost production of renewable fuels and chemicals from photosynthetic microorganisms as well as biotreatment for management of industrial and municipal waste.

Matin has received several patents, research awards, and has published several articles in peer-reviewed journals. This includes work such as his research on “Production of lipid and carbohydrate without compromising biomass productivities: Role of Ca and Mg” which won Outstanding Research Award from Algal Biomass Organization (ABO). Matin received his PhD in Chemical and Environmental Engineering from the University of Toledo, his M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Tehran and his B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering at Sharif University of Technology.

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Leyla Fahim

Leyla Fahim is the Founders Associate at Cemvita Factory. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from Bryn Mawr College. Her previous research experience has been in the areas of theoretical astrophysics and fusion energy. She has done work involving the determination of the gray body factors of Schwarzschild black holes using Schrodinger’s equations as a basis for her findings. She has also worked in the area of laboratory plasma confinement, developing a series of magnetic probes in order to measure the flux at specific points in the Bryn Mawr Magnetohydrodynamic Experiment (BMX). Her experience and interest in renewable energy sources and sustainable alternative fuels has applications in the biotech industry, which is a useful asset to Cemvita Factory’s multidisciplinary approach to scientific research.

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Shehan Chandrasekera

Shehan is the Chief Financial Officer at Cemvita Factory and a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Texas. He is also a Partner at JAG CPAs & Co and the founder of Seed Advisers LLC. As  a CPA, his industry knowledge ranges from traditional industries like Real Estate and Construction to innovative and emerging sectors like Tech Start-ups and Blockchain. Shehan enjoys helping start-up entrepreneurs navigate through various tax and accounting intricacies. His ability to dissect the tax code and innovative thinking have immensely contributed to many successful engagements with various entrepreneurs.  

Moreover, Shehan is a published author and a frequent technical contributor to various social media platforms. He graduated from William Paterson University, NJ. Aside from being an accountant, Shehan enjoys following the tech industry, rock climbing and spending time with his family.

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Seth Jaffe

Seth Jaffe is the General Counsel at Cemvita Factory. An aerospace engineer for nearly twenty years, with time spent designing robotics, installing security systems, and pioneering home automation, Seth Jaffe focuses on all things high tech. He began his practice in Norton Rose Fulbright's intellectual property group and was the technology attorney at Southwest Airlines before filling the role of general counsel at a cybersecurity company. Seth has been licensed to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office since 2008.

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Advisors

TIMOTHY KOPRA

Tim is an engineer by training, since 1998 Tim has served in various leadership and operational roles at NASA including as Flight Engineer and Commander of the International Space Station. Tim has been responsible for numerous technology development, deployment, and operations programs including for Space Shuttle launch operations, Space Station hardware and communications systems, and spacewalk interface verification and testing.Prior to NASA, Tim served in the US Army for 25 years as an Army aviator. He deployed to Operations Desert Shield and Storm and then commanded an AH-64 Attack Helicopter Company. Following studies at Georgia Tech and completing the US Navy Test Pilot School, Tim served as the Developmental Test Director for the Army’s Comanche Program until his assignment to NASA.His education includes a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, United States Military Academy; Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology; Master of Strategic Studies, US Army War College; and Masters of Business Administration from Columbia Business School and London Business School. Extended NASA Resume.

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Dr. John Charles

Dr. Charles served as Chief Scientist, Human Research Program at NASA Johnson Space Center and led NASA’s space life sciences planning for the joint US/Russian one-year mission on the International Space Station, including the Twins Study.

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Kim Padeletti

Kim is a passionate innovator and technology executive, she is responsible for Global Customer Engagement at Amazon Web Services. Prior to AWS, Kim founded the Energy Technology, Innovation, and Research & Development department for BHP, a global natural resources company. Shehas 13+ years of international project and operational experience at BHP and Oxy, developing new technology solutions for major oil & gas projects (career portfolio of US$50B+) in the US, Europe, and the Middle East. She started her career at the Naval Oceanographic Office at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, and earned her BS degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Mississippi.


Outside of work, Kim serves as a Director-at-Large for the Society of Petroleum Engineers (GCS) for R&D,Innovate, The Energy Dot, and WIN (Women in Energy). She also serves as an industry mentor for startups at Station Houston. Kim is passionate about STEM education, particularly in underrepresented populations, and has provided mentoring at different levels from children to university students through non-profit board and volunteer work.

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Lance Robinson

Lance is an internationally experienced energy sector manager with extensive experience in new technology & innovation, project development, commercial management, venture capital investments and startup companies, and technology development and commercialization.

His career has encompassed technology investment and project development in renewable energy, energy recovery, power generation, power transmission, and oil & gas subsectors for top-tier energy and industrial companies.

He has successfully built internal and external relationships and overcame operational resistance to change through effective stakeholder engagement and collaboration. He is Founder and President of Innovation Project Services LLC which is "go to" organization for technology innovation projects & programs.

Lance holds an MBA from the University of Dallas and a Bachelor's in Civil Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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Alma Del Toro

Alma is an inspirational leader, and founder/president of Blue Bull Energy. Prior to BBE, she spent almost 20 years with BP in many critical roles including head of finance for GOM. While at BP, Alma led transactions in over 10 different countries across Chemicals, Downstream and Upstream businesses where she managed over $4B capital projects and led large multidisciplinary teams across the world. Alma is a Board Member of several NGO's that focuses on serving underprivileged families. In addition to serving families in need, Alma is committed to protecting the environment and has adopted an endangered sea turtle conservation center in Campeche Mexico.


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Remington Tonar

Remington is Partner and COO at Brandsinger, a NYC-based brand strategy and corporate culture
consulting firm, where he specializes in strategic innovation, digital
transformation, and technology thought leadership. The firm’s clients have
included organizations of all sizes from Fortune 500s like Cigna and United
Airlines to universities like Emerson College and Oklahoma State University. He
is also a founding advisor at Confecta, a network of consultants and industry
experts that provides advice and connections to early stage startups and
individual and institutional investors new to venture capital. Confecta’s
portfolio ranges from fast-growing food tech companies to trending blockchain
startups to international energy IT M&A ventures.

Remington is
completing his PhD dissertation at the University of Aberdeen on the influence
of technological myths on economic and political decision-making. He holds an
MS from New York University, an MA from Loyola University Chicago, and his BA
from Marquette University.


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Jacqueline Havelka

Jacqueline is a rocket scientist turned writer, having worked in the space program for many years managing experiments on the Space Station and Shuttle. Jacqueline currently owns her own firm, Inform Scientific, specializing in technical and medical writing and research program management. When she’s not writing, she is likely watching college football.

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SIDNEY NAKAHODO

Sidney is a cofounder at New York Space Alliance and a Columbia University lecturer on political, social and economic development in Brazil. He holds an engineering degree in materials science and a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University. He has developed low carbon projects at the World Bank, and served as a consultant for the United Nations Development Programme.  In parallel to his academic responsibilities he is currently involved in a number of technology startups, both as co-founder and advisor.

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DR. SINA MOEINZADEH

Sina holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering with extensive research experience in the fields of polymers, hydrogels, biomaterials, tissue engineering, drug delivery, nanotechnology, micro-fabrication and cancer.

He has expertise in materials characterization including rheometry, NMR, GPC, UV/Vis, DLS, XRD, SEM, TEM, DSC and EDS. and extensive experience in conducting cell cultures, biochemical assays, RT-PCR, ELISA, Western blotting, flow cytometry, fluorescence and confocal microscopy.

Dr. Moeinzadeh has over 40 publications including peer reviewed journal papers, book chapters and conference proceedings, and has presented over 20 presentations at national and international conferences.

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Candice Landry

Candice is charged with enthusiasm and a collaborative spirit, Candice is a natural connector of ideas, people, and organizations. With candor and diligence, she shapes new solutions into top-notch innovations. First as a scientist, then as a strategist and tech portfolio builder, Candice has always been excited to explore technology frontiers. She’s worked in an array of industries and academia, and strives to catalyze innovation within companies and across organizations.

Candice founded 10e5 Solutions specifically to be able to provide accessible, world-class innovation strategy, development, and management to growing technology organizations. As an innovation partner, she will help to align the IP strategy to the business strategy so that competitive new products get to market with the most elbow room and for the longest period of time. When she’s not cultivating ideas or connecting teams, you will likely find her behind a macro lens or plotting her next (masterful) king cake recipe.

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Dr. Calvin Schmidt

Calvin is a Ph.D. candidate in the laboratory of Professor Christina Smolke in the Department of Bioengineering at Stanford University, developing machine learning techniques that automate the design of biological systems. In addition, he assists early-stage investors in sourcing and evaluating life science startups, with a focus in synthetic biology. He is currently working with the Adi Family Office, advising on investments in the life sciences.

Calvin has worked as an analyst at 5 Prime Ventures, an early-stage life science technology venture firm, where he contributed to deal-flow and diligence activities by identifying and analyzing promising opportunities. He also served as the Bay Area Student Ambassador for Breakout Labs, an early stage technology commercialization funding organization, locating interested companies and assisting them with the application process.

He holds a B.S. in Biochemistry from Rice University and an M.S. in Bioengineering from Stanford University, with multiple publications in the field of synthetic biology.

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Joshua Churlik

Josh is a serial entrepreneur with proven cross-functional skill sets in products, sales, marketing, and operations. His specialties include business planning, market analysis, product management, concept discovery, innovation, financial forecasting and the sales process.

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