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Supplant Scientists Share their Secrets – Part 2: Ryan

14 March 2022

At The Supplant Company, we rely on scientists to develop our innovative food technologies, so in honor of British Science Week, we’re running interviews with our scientists to find out more about them and the groundbreaking work they do in our labs. You can read the first of our interviews with our scientists here. 


Our second conversation is with Ryan Watkins, a senior scientist on the process development team at The Supplant Company. He’s been with us since 2019, and works with a group researchers who are developing more of our ground-breaking technologies. And in case you wondered, he loves milk chocolate the most, “especially when made with Supplant’s sugars from fiber!” 


Here’s a transcript of our fascinating conversation. 


What drew you to science as a career? 


I think it’s amazing how simple things that we experience or see every day all have deeper explanations as to how they work, how they are processed, how they function, how they are structured, and so on. Understanding the deeper meaning to everyday things inspired me when I was younger. I decided to pursue a career that would allow me to contribute knowledge, and also continue learning about how the world really works. 


That’s such a great reason to follow your passions. How long have you been working in science, now?


I started my journey in science in 2015, undertaking a Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science. That taught me a wide range of subjects involving chemistry and biology fundamentals, such as DNA profiling, analyzing drugs of abuse, and learning about arson and explosives, fingerprinting, pathology, and more. 


Wow! That’s a long way from sugars from fiber!


That’s true! But in 2018, I began my Masters of Science in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, where I refined my knowledge in biochemistry and molecular biology, understanding how to use different biological systems to process and purify a variety of different pharmaceuticals, food ingredients, and chemical products. That led me to The Supplant Company.  


Why did you want to work at The Supplant Company?


The Supplant Company is very ambitious with revolutionary and novel applications of currently understood technologies. I resonate with both the ambition to create impactful products which are better for the planet on the sustainability front, and with the goal to make products that are better for people. 


You’ve had a few interesting roles already at Supplant. What has your career path been like?


I joined The Supplant Company in 2019, straight after my Masters of Science, as a laboratory technician. I initially worked on optimization of fungal growth and maximizing enzyme production, before moving over to strain development, where I worked on improving the function of those different enzymes at a molecular level. 


In early 2021, I joined the process development team, where I was promoted to research scientist, combining those enzyme cocktails with pre-treated agricultural materials to optimize the process in making sugars from fiber, and other potential ingredients.  


You’ve moved quickly in your career, it sounds like.


Yes, and now I am working in the process development team, as a senior scientist. It’s a fast-growing company, too. I have seen the company grow from a small team of four in the R&D department, to now over 20! 


That’s fantastic. What do you spend most of your time doing at work?


My day-to-day activities at The Supplant Company involve working with the team to optimize our processes for various ingredients, maximizing them on an economic basis, and performing tech transfers from lab-scale to pilot scale and beyond. More recently we have been looking to improve our approach to biomass fractionation, to maximize the different products we can generate from one process. 


That sounds super interesting and satisfying.


It is. Some of the work I did when I first joined is still being used, and even optimized further by some of the newer members of the teams. It gives me a feeling of a contribution to the wider R&D department. 


Can you sum up your experience in a quote?


Yes, as Robert A. Heinlein said, “Everything is theoretically impossible until it is done.” 


That really resonates! Thanks Ryan!

Found this interesting? You can read more interviews with our scientists here.

Love the work our scientists are doing? Supplant chocolate bars are now available on Amazon in milk and dark varieties.