Sarah Placella

headshot image of Sarah Placella

CEO, Co-Founder

Sarah's vision for Root Applied Sciences is to distill excellent science into easy-to-interpret products that deliver immediate value to customers. Her background as the scientist at two microbe-centric startups informs the company's strategic development of new products.

Sarah has a BA in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from UC Berkeley in Environmental Science, Policy and Management where she focused on microbial ecology and soil biogeochemistry. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Michigan State's Kellogg Biological Field Station, and later at the Ecology and Soils unit of INRA in Montpellier, France, compliments of an Agreenskills Fellowship through the Marie Curie Foundation.

Ken Yamaguchi

Ken Yamaguchi

CTO, Co-Founder

Ken's career has been at the intersection of computation, chemistry, and biology. He is thrilled to bring his utility-focused technology development to a company that applies cutting-edge data science to improve production of food and wine, two of his passions. 

Ken earned his BS in Electrical Engineering from Yale University and PhD from UC Berkeley in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. He has worked for a start-up he co-founded as well as in biotech and pharma. His published work includes articles on computational biology, pathway analysis, multiple sclerosis, interferon research, and oncology targets. 

Rodrigo Almeida


Science Advisor, Co-Founder

Rodrigo has devoted his career to understanding pathogens of vineyards and other perennial crops. He has been engaged in the biology, ecology and management of plant pathogens for over 20 years. Rodrigo decided to found this company to help the science in his laboratory reach the people who can benefit from it.

The Hildebrand-Laumeister Chair of Plant Pathology at UC Berkeley, Professor Almeida has been the recipient of Fulbright and Marie Curie Fellowships as well as the early career award from the American Phytopathological Society. Current research in the Almeida group focuses on the ecology and management of grapevine leafroll-associated viruses and Xylella fastidiosa diseases, especially Pierce's disease of grapevines.

About Us

Adam Zeilinger


Data Scientist

Adam is a statistical ecologist with extensive experience modeling a wide range of plant pests and diseases. He is excited to apply his skills to improve crop management by creating higher quality fruit while increasing sustainability.

Adam received his PhD from the University of Minnesota and has been employed as a research scientist at UC Berkeley. He has over 25 peer-reviewed research articles.

Tyler Schartel

Tyler Schartel

Data Scientist

Tyler's expertise is field-based quantitative ecology. He is passionate about developing testable models that address real needs in agriculture.

Tyler received his PhD from Mississippi State and was a postdoctoral researcher at UC Riverside where some of his work focused on the spread of pests in Napa Valley.

Michael Voeltz

Michael Voeltz

Laboratory Scientist

A specialist in plant pathogen diagnostics, Michael strives to get us to the day that comprehensive diagnostics are commonplace for perennial crops.

Michael has a bachelor's degree in Botany and Plant Biology from UC Riverside and over 5 years  laboratory experience in plant pathogen detection. His experience runs the gamut from testing Huanglongbing for the Citrus Research Board to comprehensive grapevine pathogen detection as a scientist at UC Berkeley.