Our Team

Kenneth Nealson, Ph.D.

Advisory Board

Ken is a world renowned scientist with forty years of experience in the areas of microbial fuel cells, microbial physiology, biochemistry, and environmental microbiology. Ken sets the technical direction for the company.  He has made numerous important discoveries in his scientific career, including the first observation of the manganese reducing ability of Shewanella oneidensis.  Ken is an avid musician, favors fine wine, and enjoys bird watching.  Ken advises River Road Research on scientific direction and research strategy.

Jim Newman


In addition to his role at River Road, Jim also serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of NOCO Inc.  NOCO is a regional energy products distribution company serving communities in the Northeast United States and Eastern Ontario.  Jim’s entrepreneurial spirit and extensive business experience serves him well as he oversees corporate strategy and guides the company’s leadership team. Jim was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and government from Georgetown University.  His primary interest outside of business is adventures with his family, though he also enjoys many outdoor activities and following professional sports.

Scott Ernst, P.E.

Managing Director

Scott brings twenty years of experience in engineering, business development, technology transfer, product design, finance, and marketing to the team.  He serves as general manager of River Road Research.  His current work at NOCO Energy Corporation and prior work at Siemens and EPRI add perspective and practicality to River Road’s development efforts.  He earned a degree in mechanical engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology and an MBA in finance from Temple University.  Scott enjoys travel, golf, playing poker, and competing in triathlons.

Radu Popa, Ph.D.

Research Director

Radu is a world renowned scientist and educator with thirty years of experience in the areas of ecology, microbiology, redox geochemistry, and physiology.  He is the lead researcher on several River Road Research projects and serves as the manager of our Southern California location.  Dr. Popa's work has been published in dozens of journals on topics such as the origins of life, life in extreme environments, and extraterrestrial life.  He has contributed to several Mars missions through his work at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Radu is a sailor, and enjoys gardening.  

Bailey Sanderson

Laboratory Manager

Bailey’s undergraduate focus at the University of Illinois was pre-Veterinary sciences with an emphasis in Genetics.  After she completed her B.S. at the University of Illinois, Bailey attended DePaul University and earned an M.S.  degree in Molecular Biology. Following her Graduate Studies at DePaul University, Bailey joined the United States Peace Corps.  She served for two years in Uganda where she taught Biology and Computer Science to secondary level students as well as coached soccer and volleyball. She oversees and runs the laboratory at River Road Research. Bailey enjoys traveling and being active with her friends, family, and dogs.

Emily Wasley

Energy Engineer

Emily has earned a B.S. in Environmental Geo-sciences and an M.S. in Engineering Sustainability, both from the University at Buffalo. She has experience in analytical chemistry, microbiology, and energy and environmental engineering. Emily enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors.

Marina Wittmann

Entomologist Technician

Marina studied environmental biology with a focus in forest entomology at SUNY- College of Environmental Science and Forestry. While in her undergrad, she both conducted and assisted with forest health and invasive insect research. In her free time, Marina enjoys crochet and volunteering.

Alumni and Partners

We have several RRR alumni now dedicating time to other pursuits who are still available for consulting with us on projects.  Similarly, we have relationships and partnerships with engineering firms, contractors, regulatory consultants and equipment suppliers.  These resources can be called upon to make your custom project a reality.  We are a small company that can accordian to execute on big projects.