Scientific Advisory Board Member
Dr. Simmons attended the University of Washington and obtained a B.S. in Chemical Engineering in 1997. He then attended graduate school at Tulane University after receiving a Louisiana Board of Regents Fellowship. He graduated with a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Tulane in 2001. Dr. Simmons joined Sandia National Laboratories (Livermore, CA) in 2001 as a Senior Member of the Technical Staff, serving as a member of the Materials Chemistry Department. He was promoted to Manager of the Energy Systems Department in 2006. The primary focus of the department was the development of novel materials-based solutions to meet the nation’s growing energy demands. He also served as the Senior Manager of the Advanced Biomanufacturing Group at Sandia as well as the Laboratory Relationship Manager for the Biomass Program.
In 2007, he was one of the principal co-investigators of the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a ten year, $259M DOE funded project tasked with the development and realization of next-generation biofuels produced from non-food crops. He is currently serving as the Chief Science and Technology Officer and the Vice-President of the Deconstruction Division at JBEI, where he leads a team of 45 researchers working on advanced methods of liberating fermentable sugars from lignocellulosic biomass. In 2016, he left Sandia and joined Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as the Division Director of Biological Systems and Engineering. He has over 300 publications, book chapters, and patents. His work has been featured in the New York Times, BBC, the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, Fast Company, and the KQED televised science program Quest.