ATP3 serves as a learning environment for the next generation of scientists, engineers, and business leaders to help accelerate the research and development of algae-based technologies.

Our open test bed and evaluation facilities are a hub for research and commercialization of algae-based biofuels and other biomass co-products.

ATP3 aims to facilitate innovation, empower knowledge creation and accelerate growth of the emergent algal energy industry.

Our Team

The ATP3 team consists of world-class scientists, engineers and business executives who lead the national network of algae testbeds. Our diversely skilled experts enable objective testing and evaluation of algae systems and technologies. They specialize in the comparison of the performance of systems under different climatic and operational conditions at a much larger scale. The ATP3 network is generating data sets that are critical for supporting techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment activities that will accelerate research and development towards the transformative goal of cost-competitive algal biofuels by 2022.

Please click for complete team bios.

  • Gary Dirks, ASU


    Gary Dirks, ASU


    Director, Gary Dirks, leads the ATP3 Executive Team and ensures the team is on track to meet DOE program objectives. Gary is a distinguished sustainability scientist with 35 years of career experience in a global energy and petrochemical business environment. He is also the Director of ASU LightWorks and ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability. Before joining ASU Gary was president of BP Asia-Pacific and BP China. He has extensive experience managing large joint venture projects over $50 million and has hands on expertise in overseeing complex, collaborative projects.

  • Ron Pate, Sandia

    Deputy Director

    Ron Pate, Sandia

    Deputy Director

    Deputy Director, Ron Pate, represents ATP3 externally and develops and manages strategic partner relationships. Ron is currently a Principal Member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Since 1986 he has led and contributed technically to numerous Sandia programs and projects involving technology systems research and development, testing, and analysis for energy systems, defense systems, directed energy, sensor and security technologies, and various assessments related to national security. Over the past decade Ron has focused more specifically on the interdependencies of energy, water and land use within the context of climate change, smart grid technologies and systems, biofuels, and food & agricultural systems security. He recently spent two years (FY10-FY11) in a temporary assignment with the former Office of Biomass Program (OBP), now known as the BioEnergy Technologies Office (BETO), at DOE/EERE in Washington, DC.

  • Bill Brandt, ASU

    Director Business Development

    Bill Brandt, ASU

    Director Business Development

    Director of Business Development, Bill Brandt, is responsible for developing industrial participation programs, with a particular emphasis on client programs, funding models, intellectual property management, and marketing of the testbed network. Bill is also Director of Strategic Integration at ASU LightWorks, an ASU initiative that capitalizes on ASU’s strengths in solar energy and other light-inspired research. He is a mentor for leaders and teams who builds strategic partnerships in the field of renewable energy. Bill worked for 30 years at BP and has extensive experience in leading complex mergers and acquisitions teams, including major capital market transactions. Bill was a Distinguished Advisor at BP.

  • Jerry Brand, UTEX

    Director Education & Training

    Jerry Brand, UTEX

    Director Education & Training

    Director of Education and Training, Jerry Brand, is responsible for developing and deploying high quality education programs for ATP3. Jerry is also the Director of the Culture Collection of Algae (UTEX) and is a Professor of Biology at the University of Texas at Austin. He has conducted research on the physiology and biochemistry of microalgae for the last 35 years. As UTEX Director, he administers one of the largest and most diverse collections of living algae in the world. For 35 years, Jerry has developed diverse workshops and other training programs for students and professionals, and most recently facilitates a bimonthly workshop on managing algal cultures for commercial production professionals.

  • Phil Pienkos, NREL

    Director Integration & Analysis

    Phil Pienkos, NREL

    Director Integration & Analysis

    Director of Integration and Analysis, Philip Pienkos, leads the Integration and Analysis Team and is responsible for coordinating experimental programs that guide long term cultivation trials and harmonizing the results with computational models to better inform techno-economic and life-cycle assessments. Phil is the Principal Manager of the Applied Sciences Group of the National Bioenergy Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. He has over 26 years of experience in the biotech industry, spanning large established companies and novel technology start-ups. Phil’s primary focus at NREL is on algal biofuels, where he leads this effort. He has extensive partnership development responsibilities at NREL and is well integrated into the algal biofuels community. He has been named by Biofuels Digest as one of the top 100 individuals in biofuels for two years running.

  • John McGowen, ASU

    Director Operations

    John McGowen, ASU

    Director Operations

    Director of Operations and Program Manager, John McGowen, leads the operations team and is responsible for integrating a network of geographically diverse testbed sites. John has over 17 years of diverse experience in new technology development, technical and project management, and operations management. He has worked in the area of algal biofuels development for over 5 years, led the design and implementation team for the establishment of the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation’s pre-commercial testbed facility and is currently the portfolio manager for ASU’s energy initiatives.

  • Education and Training Team

    Education and Training Team

    The Education and Training Team delivers workshops, short courses, continuing education for commercial clients, community outreach, and workforce development. These programs cover a diverse range of topics pertaining to the management and processing of microalgal cultures, and uses of their products. Team members include:

    • Milton Sommerfeld (AzCATI), Principal Instructor
    • Tom Dempster (AzCATI), Principal Instructor
    • Schonna Manning (UTEX), Principal Instructor
  • Integration and Analysis Team

    Integration and Analysis Team

    The Integration and Analysis Team has three main objectives, which include establishing best practices and analytical standards, developing a web-based Scientific Data Management System (SDMS) to disseminate data to the algal community, and pursuing advanced diagnostics and real-time monitoring for culture health and productivity. Team members include:

    • Valerie Harmon (Cellana) Experimental Design
    • Tryg Lundquist (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo), California Site Lead
    • Ed Wolfrum (NREL), Data Management
    • Ryan Davis (NREL), TEA & LCA
    • Tricia Gharagozloo (Sandia), Dynamic Modeling
  • Operations Team Members

    Operations Team Members

    The Operations Team has two main objectives, which include carrying out integrated testbed operations and experiments, and providing access to quality facilities and expertise to move novel ideas to proven technologies. Team members include:

    • Tom Dempster (AzCATI), Testbed Site Coordination
    • Tryg Lundquist (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo), California Site Lead
    • Valerie Harmon (Cellana), Hawaii Site Lead
    • Brian Gordon (Touchstone Research Laboratory), Ohio Site Lead
    • Steven Schlosser (Florida Algae), Florida Site Lead
    • Yongsheng Chen (Georgia Institute of Technology), Georgia Site Lead
    • Lieve Laurens (NREL), Method Harmonization
    • Todd Lane (Sandia), Advanced Diagnostics
    • Tom Reichardt (Sandia), Real Time Monitoring
    • Jessica Cheng (AzCATI), Project Management


Collaborative Open Test Beds

ATP3 provides access to a geographically diverse network of algal biomass production facilities. Our infrastructure enables the acceleration of applied algal research, development, investment, and commercial applications for biofuel feedstock.

High Impact Data

ATP3 will integrate results from practical, objective experimental design and execute long term cultivation trials utilizing TEA, LCA and computational models.