The Founding Team


Copyright © HelioBioSys. 2018. All rights reserved.

      ROCCO MANCINELLI, Ph.D. Founder, CEO

Mancinelli has over 25 years of technology expertise in the area of bio-production and processing, He has served on numerous corporate as well as U.S. government, state, local and non-U.S. government advisory boards. He is a co-founder, inventor and CEO of HelioBioSys, Inc., developing a patented sugar feedstock production process for the bio-products industry.  He has been a Senior Research Scientist with the Bay Area Environmental Research Institute and a founding member of NASA’s Synthetic Biology Program. 

Mancinelli has published over 100 peer reviewed papers in journals ranging from Nature to Applied and Environmental Microbiology and is the Editor-In-Chief of the International Journal of Astrobiology (Cambridge University Press).

Mancinelli has been awarded a National Academy of Sciences Research Fellowship, the Antarctic Service medal and a Sigma Xi research fellowship. He has been elected Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, Fellow of the Explorers Club, as well as elected to Sigma Xi, the honorary science society. He is also a member of the American Society for Microbiology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Society for Photobiology, the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, Soil Science Society of America, American Geophysical Union, International Society for Microbial Ecology, and the European Astrobiology Network Association.

Mancinelli was awarded his Ph.D., M.A. and B.A. from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

     DAVID SMERNOFF, Ph.D. Founder, CTO

Smernoff spent 20 years at NASA-Ames Research Center developing and managing research systems to study the interaction between organisms and their environment. His research focused on the integration of biological and engineered systems to support human life on long-duration space missions. These systems rely on understanding underlying biological processes coupled with management of the environmental conditions that support the intersection of metabolism with human goals. He has translated this experience into his role as a co-founder, inventor and CTO of HelioBioSys, developing a patented, sustainable sugar feedstock production process for the bio-products industry. 

Smernoff has extensive experience in government and non-profit organizational management, including serving as an elected official on the Board of Directors of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District and the Los Trancos County Water District. He is a co-founder, and Board member of Acterra, a non-profit organization focused on community based land stewardship and home energy efficiency and conservation. He also serves on the Stanford University Jasper Ridge Coordinating Committee.

Smernoff received his Bachelors of Science from Colorado State University, Masters in Environmental Management from University of San Francisco, and his Doctorate from Stanford University. 


Krenz has an MS in Engineering from UC Davis and an MBA from Stanford University. He has experience in a broad range of commercial enterprises, including manufacture of high power laser systems, enterprise software (SAP), energy management software, commercial real estate development, and public utilities. He currently uses his engineering and business skills to lead in operations management for emerging corporations, with an emphasis on management strategy, modeling and finance. 

      DAN GORDON, Dipl. Ing.

Gordon is the co-founder of Gordon Biersch Brewing Company.  He built the company to 12 brewery restaurants and a state of the art brewery bottling facility.  His technical expertise is in large scale yeast propagation and engineering of large manufacturing facilities.   His brewing background is highly interdisciplinary  incorporates microbiology and process engineering as well as the business operations.  Gordon has a Diplom Brewing engineering degrees from the Technical University of Munich and  a B.S. In resource economics from U.C. Berkeley.  He has been guest lecturing on entrepeneurship at the Stanford Graduate School of Business for 17 years and U.C. Davis on fermentation science for the past 5 years.