Meet the team
Purpose, Passion and Practicality
While every role here at Sempera pulls on different strengths and skills, passion is the thread that ties us all together. Everyone who comes through our doors each morning is excited by the opportunity we are pursuing. Our pride, purpose, and commitment in our individual roles–coupled with our common focus on bringing fungi to the forefront for those who care about eating healthy and living well– sets us apart.
Nirmal has been thinking about fungi, food and wellness for over a decade, so he bought a farm land with Redwoods “just for fun.” At the time, his day job was CMO at Clickatell, a global technology leader and innovator in mobile messaging and commerce. At Clickatell, he helped build revenues from $50M to over $100M, led the team that launched the game-changing Chat Commerce platform—and coined the term itself—that’s rapidly changing the way we interact with the brands on mobile phones.
But always in the back of this foodie’s mind, was fungi and how he could completely upend it’s visibility and elevate it to its rightful place in the world of fantastic-tasting healthy eating. In 2020, he founded Sempera to do just that. From his initial training as a mechanical engineer to software to digital video to mobile to food and nutrition; Nirmal has built his career paving new paths. He’s got big plans on the horizon for Sempera.
Chief Culinary Officer
Chef Sri is the most decorated Indian chef cooking in the US today. He is the executive chef at Taj Campton Place in San Francisco since 2008 where he earned two Michelin stars and 3.5 stars from the San Francisco Chronicle. He is also the co-owner of the highly acclaimed Ettan, a Cal-Indian cuisine restaurant in Palo Alto. Sri attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and honed his craft at the Michelin two-star Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in England, where he finessed his repertoire in classical European techniques.
His secret sauce is blending East and West sensibilities, combining the flavors of the east with a distinctive western flair to create culinary magic. Here at Sempera, he is working on the future of food based on fungi. He has no shortage of willing taste-testers to be sure.
Dr. Dennis Desjardin
One of the world’s pre-eminent mycologists, Dennis retired in 2021 after 31 years as Professor of Mycology in the San Francisco State Department of Biology, and Director and Curator of the H.D. Thiers Herbarium. Supported by eight National Science Foundation grants, he’s conducted field studies across the globe, documenting fungal diversity and the ethnomycology of indigenous cultures. Dennis has published over 150 scientific papers, described 300+ new species of mushrooms, and co-authored two popular field guides.
He is an elected Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and the Mycological Society of America. Dennis also serves as the Scientific Advisor to the Mycological Society of San Francisco, and as a consultant to US Poison Control Centers, hospitals, physicians, and veterinarians. He began his life’s work young: when he was just 3 years old he started collecting mushrooms with his grandparents.
Chief Strategy Officer
Grant has had a distinguished career publishing market intelligence, and as a strategic advisor in the environmental and nutrition industries. He has published Environmental Business Journal since 1988, Nutrition Business Journal from 1996-2007 prior to selling the NBJ business, and Climate Change Business Journal since 2008. In 2007 founded Nutrition Capital Network (NCN), an organization that connects investors with early-stage companies in the nutrition and health & wellness industry. Grant has served as a lead consultant or principal advisor on proprietary consulting, research, and strategy development assignments in the nutrition and environmental industries. Since 1998, he has acted as an independent investor making investments in 17 companies. He has also served as a board member for eight companies and has sold three businesses that he founded. Grant has a B.S. degree from the University of California, Berkeley in Conservation & Resource Studies. He has homes in San Diego, Volcano, Hawaii, Whidbey Island, Washington and San Jose del Cabo, and is an accomplished gardener, puppeteer, cartoonist, author, theatrical performer, director, soccer player and Scottish dancer.
Sr. Advisor Regulatory and Scientific Affairs
Lynda is a recognized senior leader in the nutrition industry with a passion for doing what is right for the business, its people and the community. She provides strategic guidance and support utilizing a unique set of proficiencies across innovation, strategy, marketing, business intelligence, science, regulatory, and product development. With over 33 years of experience in the dietary supplements, functional foods and beverages sectors, Lynda has a proven track record of driving corporate growth and revenue from concept through commercialization with global ingredient manufacturers such as BASF, Roche, DSM, Glanbia and OmniActive.
She currently volunteers as a mentor and selection committee member for the Nutrition Capital Network (NCN), serves on multiple committees of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) and is secretary of the board for Women in Nutraceuticals (WIN). Lynda was president and served on the board of directors for both The Drug, Chemical and Associated Technologies Association (DCAT) and The Sales Association of the Chemical Industry (SACI). Lynda received her MS in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, her MBA in Marketing and International Business from Pace University and studied one year at Eberhard-Karls University, Tuebingen, Germany.
If you’ve enjoyed a craft beer in the last decade, it’s in large part due to Dan’s pioneering work in the craft brewing industry. As CEO and one of the founding partners of one of the biggest brands in craft beer, Gordon Biersch, Dan is a legend in the world of enzymatic chemistry and fermentation. He’s currently an Assistant Adjunct Professor at UC Berkeley and has been a guest speaker at Stanford, UC Davis and other academic institutions.
In 1987, Dan was the first American in more than 40 years to graduate from the prestigious five-year brewing engineering program at the world-renowned Technical University of Munich in Weihenstephan, West Germany. As if that’s not enough, he also started the gastro-pub movement. We couldn’t be more excited that he’s lending his esteemed knowledge and expertise to the work we are doing here at Sempera.