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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 Nair


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.

Listen to Nirmal’s interview on the No Fungi No Future Podcast.

Srijith Gopinathan

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.

Listen to Sri’s interview on the No Fungi No Future podcast.

Dr. Dennis Desjardin

Chief Mycologist

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.

Listen to an interview with Dennis on the No Fungi No Future podcast.

Grant Ferrier

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 been a guest on the Nutrapayments Podcast. He 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.

Dan Gordon


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.

Leadership  Team

Nathaniel White

Mycology & Food Science

Why Sempera?
It is an inspiring opportunity to apply my practical skills and knowledge of mushroom cultivation and fermentation to produce potent fungi-based wellness solutions.
Favorite mushroom
I’ll never turn down morels!
Favorite food
A good bowl of ramen
Favorite beverage
Coffee is like sunshine to my soul.

Megan Smart


Why Sempera?
I love the challenge and getting stuff done.
Favorite mushroom
Favorite food
Favorite beverage
Old Fashioned

Andrew Hickerson

Quality Manager

Why Sempera?
It’s a fantastic opportunity to apply my knowledge of nutraceutical and food regulations at an innovative company that has a strong commitment to producing safe, quality products.
Favorite mushroom
Lion’s Mane
Favorite food
Shawarma, grilled onions, cucumber, zhug and tahini stuffed in a warm pita!
Favorite beverage
Café Cubano

If all of this sounds exciting to you, let’s talk.  We are always looking for the right team members to join our diverse and dedicated team.