People

Emmanuel G. Escobar, Ph.D.
Chairman & Co-Founder

Emmanuel grew up in a family with strong ties to agriculture, frequently visiting the farm where his grandfather worked and has always shown an interest in plants and how they feed the planet. While doing a degree in Genetics at Queen Mary, University of London, he showed interest in membrane protein biochemistry and joined a microbiology research group to study the biogenesis and repair of photosystem II in cyanobacteria.

His success in the short research project encouraged him to continue working in understanding the underlying regulatory mechanisms of photosynthesis and in 2013 he was awarded a research grant from the Project Sunshine to conduct PhD research at The University of Sheffield. Since then, he has since worked with three international collaborative projects, the EU 3to4 Project, the C4 Rice Project and the RIPE Project, all which are research consortia aiming to engineer photosynthesis for sustainable agriculture.

He is now interested in realising the full potential of plants when grown in remote or harsh environments and develop the necessary technology to maximise crop productivity. His ambitions are largely driven by the demand for better sustainable agricultural practices, as well as the interest of populating other planets. While accepting that the migration to other planets is something reserved for the future, but within our grasp, his research at Seanasol aims to understand and alleviate stresses placed on plants that are grown in low atmosphere environments. He believes that the best innovation comes first from imagination.  Emmanuel has a creative mind and is a strong advocate for science communication. In 2016 he founded Pressure Ink and has since been its primary contributor.


Lidia Escobar, MSc.
Managing Director                

Lidia Escobar is a Business Development Specialist who identifies and creates opportunities to enable the efficient interaction between our internal and external collaborators.

Before embarking in the ambitious project of Seanasol Research, Lidia has managed a family Telecom consulting business that has worked in different countries.  She holds an Master’s degree in International Management from the University of Liverpool and has also a background in Education.  In Guatemala, her country of origin, she was a Secondary School teacher of Biology and Chemistry.  Lidia enjoys learning languages and besides her mother language, Spanish, she speaks English, French and German.

Lidia is concerned about the issue of food security and has taken the Seanasol Research initiative as her own and she firmly believes in the interdependence of humans and plants and the need to explore ways to secure that relationship.


Julio Gonzalez-Saenz, MSc.
Programme Director (Space Segment)

Julio Gonzalez-Saenz has worked in the industry for more than 35 years. He started in the telecommunication world as an engineer, working for IBM during the rise of consumer grade IBM-PCs. In following years, Julio was a key design engineer in the integration and adaptation of the Signalling System 7 (SS7) and responsible for its success in the exchange of information using digital signalling networks—one of the most complex projects in the world. Julio is a world-traveller, fluent in Spanish, English, German and French, and has had the opportunity to work as a consultant for high-tech, world-class telecom projects including those with KPN in the Netherlands, Sofrecom in Syria, CGI in Germany, and Vodafone, Altran, British Gas and NPower in the United Kingdom. Julio holds an MSc in Computer Science at Roosevelt University, where he developed DNA computer algorithms under Prof. Alex Wolpert. He has also worked on simulations for rotary-wing aircrafts and strategies for lunar landing.

Julio’s interests in space expansion projects started while working in Germany. There he volunteered at PTScientists as Software Engineering/Technical Manager of the Aerospace team. He also had a chance to work with Dr. Jack Crenshaw, one of the former NASA physicists of the Project Apollo. Together, they performed trajectory calculations for the deployment of rovers to the Moon as part of Google XPrize. Julio continues to work with PTScientists as a technical advisor.

Julio plays a vital role at Seanasol Research as Programme Director and is responsible for realising project aims and ensuring that objectives are delivered in a timely manner. He is also one of the key representatives of the company and liaises with individuals, universities and private companies in order to identify new research directions.  He believes that plants, inter alia, will play a key role in any human endeavour outside of Earth. His expertise in Robotics, DNA, Telecommunications, Computer Science, Electronics, Cybersecurity and InternetOfThings can be used to learn what we still don’t know about plants and how they could cope in low-gravity environments, such that humans can move far and beyond the sky.

Continue reading about Julio.


Chatchawal Phansopa, PhD
Research Strategy and Innovation Officer

Dr Chatchawal Phansopa is a molecular microbiologist with experience in enzymology, and completed his PhD at The University of Sheffield. In 2015 he joined the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences as a postdoctoral researcher working on a European Collaborative Project (3to4) aimed at studying the underlying biochemical characteristics of C4 photosynthesis in important crops such as maize. His current research focuses on the evolutionary progression of C4 photosynthesis by studying how changes in the molecular design of key proteins in this mechanism have over time improved carbon assimilation efficiency. At Seanasol Research, Chatchawal paves the way for new research directions, bringing forth his interest and experience in microbiology and plant biology. In a way he ensures that we come down to Earth every so often and makes sure our goals remain realistic and relevant. His work has been published in the Biochemical Journal and Journal of Biological Chemistry.


Sally Yiu
Public Relations Coordinator


Julien Godard, MSc.
Research Associate (Molecular Biology)

Julien Godard earned his Master’s degree in Biological Sciences from The University of Sheffield. He studied how the catalytic efficiency of proteins varied in plants grown under different light conditions. After obtaining his degree, he trained as a laboratory quality assurance technician, testing the function and performance of medical devices. He is particularly interested in the development of new treatments and personalised medicines. Julien’s experience in agricultural biotechnology and the manufacturing process enables him to lead and support our vision for the future of space farming and food security. Julien wholeheartedly believes that success of a sustainable practice starts from a company’s environmental awareness. He has henceforth joined Seanasol Research to deliver better farming strategies that will mitigate climate change.                 


Shaun Nielsen, PhD
Field Expedition Specialist

Dr Shaun Nielsen trained as a marine biologist at the University of New South Wales, Australia. There he studied the diversity of host-associated microbiota in marine species, before turning his interests to agriculture. He has worked on understanding how microbes interact with plants in the soil, and how resources are scavenged and recycled. Most recently, he has studied how gene networks in plants are regulated by changes in temperature and identify possible contenders for future engineering of photosynthesis. His experience in interpreting changes in gene expression plays a significant role in understanding how plants respond and adapt to growing environments. His work has been published in Nature, Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, Scientific Reports and FEMS Microbiology Ecology. 


     

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