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Productive soy field

A future powered by plants

We’re committed to making agriculture both sustainable and bountiful

Our Story

"If everything we used came from plants, the world would be sustainable by default”. Unbeknownst to Chris Eiben, this stray thought during an AP Biology class would lead him to founding Perlumi 15 years later. In the interim, the core goal remained the same. It just took Chris a PhD, a postdoc, an entrepreneurial fellowship, and a whole lot of pipette tips to hone the strategy. To make photosynthesis faster and more efficient, the key insight is avoiding the enzyme rubisco, the current slow step.

Ultimately, improved photosynthesis will sustainably supply the food, feed, fiber and materials a bountiful future requires. Today, Perlumi is a team of like minded individuals, sharing in this common mission. The first plants Perlumi will improve are major crop plants, including corn and soybean. After that, we will improve the plants needed for future carbon management.

If you would like to join us on our journey, please reach out. 


Our team shares a mission to empower a sustainable world of plenty.

Chris Eiben

Founder, CEO

Chris Eiben

Chris is sowing the seeds for a plentiful future by building deep tech companies solving sustainability challenges. The initial technical insight leading to Perlumi's photosynthesis mission was drawn from Chris's strong science background. Chris earned his Ph.D. in Bioengineering at UC Berkeley, focusing on synthetic metabolism and protein engineering in Jay Keasling's lab. He has published his academic work in peer reviewed journals including Nature Biotechnology, and ACS Synthetic Biology. Chris has also authored several patent applications for technology he has developed. To complement his science background, Chris pursued two years of entrepreneurial training via the prestigious Activate fellowship. Outside of company building, Chris loves music, working out, and offbeat cinema.

Rahman Rahman Pour

Scientist II

Rahman Rahman Pour

Rahman earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick in the UK. During his doctoral studies, his research focused on enzymology and structural biology of bacterial lignin degradation.

After completing his Ph.D., Rahman held two postdoctoral positions in protein engineering and synthetic biology in the UK and the USA. During his postdoctoral work, he conducted research on protein engineering and developed tools for heterologous gene expression and genome engineering of non-model organisms.

Before joining Perlumi, Rahman worked as a protein engineer scientist at Illumina. In this role, he utilized protein engineering methods to optimize enzymes involved in Next Generation Sequencing (NGS).

Michael Dougherty

Senior Scientist

Michael Dougherty

Michael is passionate about doing cool science. He has a background in microbiology and protein engineering. Michael earned a B.S. in microbiology from Penn State and a Ph.D. in microbiology from UW-Madison. He worked on engineering protein transcription factors during a postdoctoral appointment at CalTech, and then worked on biofuels research at the Joint Bioenergy Institute. Prior to joining
Perlumi, he spent several years applying synthetic biology tools to problems in advanced life support technologies in the Bioengineering Branch at the NASA Ames Research Center. Michael was also able to send a microbiology experiment to the International Space Station during
his time at NASA.

Victor Vela

Assistant Scientist

Victor Vela

Victor attended undergrad at the University of California, Davis - studying molecular biology. After UC Davis, Victor contributed to both Bayer and BASF’s R&D Assisted Breeding programs, enhancing seeds and traits in several unique vegetable and fruit cultivars. His passion for plant biology research continued when collaborating with startups
using plant molecular biology to establish stable plant transformation lines focusing on eliciting plant secondary metabolites for cosmetic and medical uses. Driven by his passion for climate change, sustainability, Victor joined Perlumi’s protein engineering team. When not in the lab, Victor spends his free time outside climbing and backpacking with his Groenendael or perfecting song transitions with
his friends.


Our advisors fill important roles, rounding out our team with active involvement as our company grows.

Jay Keasling

Jay Keasling, PhD.

Jay Keasling is a pioneer in engineering microbes and metabolism. During the early 2000s, Jay led a UC Berkeley research team to use engineered yeast to synthetically produce artemisinin, the powerful anti-malarial drug. Researchers at the Keasling Lab are now using the same technology to produce other pharmaceuticals, commodity chemicals, and cellulosic biofuels.

Daphne Preuss

Daphne Preuss, PhD.

Daphne Preuss is an executive leader with over 20 years in agribusiness and plant biotechnology. She has negotiated dozens of alliances with top-tier agriculture and biotechnology companies, bringing multiple products to market.  Preuss frequently serves as an advisor and board member for innovative companies that are transforming agriculture’s sustainability, helping their leadership team create win-win partnerships with the largest companies in the industry.


Perlumi has been awarded funding for core technology development through highly selective granting programs from ARPA-E, the Grantham Foundation, and Activate Global.

Arpa-e logo
Grantham Foundation logo
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