Board of Directors

The leadership of the Algae Biomass Organization is critical is assisting the industry to move forward towards commercialization.


David Hazlebeck – CEO/Founder, Global Algae Innovations; Chairperson, ABO

David Hazlebeck, Ph.D., founder & CEO of Global Algae Innovations, is a proven leader and innovator in the algae industry. He has over 30 years experience in chemical and biological research and development from laboratory-scale through piloting and commercial implementation. His biofuel experience includes leading the development of large-scale photosynthetic algal biofuels, sugar and waste conversion via heterotrophic algae and oleaginous yeast, cellulosic conversion to drop-in fuels, and conversion of plastics to fuel.
Prior to Global Algae Innovations, he led the biofuels and algae products program at General Atomics where he was the principal investigator for the DARPA Algal-Derived JP-8 project that included collaborative algal process research and development with 28 outside organizations and culminated in the design and operation of a large-scale, advanced algae production facility.
Dr. Hazlebeck has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware and a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of California, San Diego.

Mark Allen – Vice President of Integrated Carbon Solutions, Accelergy Corporation; Vice Chairperson, ABO

As the Vice President of Integrated Carbon Solutions for Accelergy Corporation Mark leads the company efforts to develop and deploy technology platforms to efficiently monetize and reduce CO2 emissions. He is a licensed professional engineer with more than 25 years experience in the design, construction, and operation of large-scale engineering, infrastructure, and environmental projects including biological process systems of more than 500 million gallons per day capacity.
He holds a Civil Engineering degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology and is a successful entrepreneur having co-founded A2BE Carbon Capture in 2007 and also founded a corporate knowledge management company in 1999. Previously he managed large engineering organizations for Rust Environment and Infrastructure, Metcalf & Eddy, SAIC, and others. Under these organizations he had full profit and loss responsibility for multiple lines of business including: water and wastewater engineering, environmental engineering, hazardous and solid waste engineering, transportation engineering, and information technology and other professional service offerings.
In the algal biomass industry he focuses on process engineering, systems integration, and systems architecture for scalable algal biomass production and deployment, with a particular emphasis on reducing carbon in the atmosphere through terrestrial carbon sequestration. Mark is a founding board member of the Algae Biomass Organization and has chaired a number of committees and is a past Chairman and President. He is very active in the Executive Policy Council and has worked on numerous policy initiatives and participated in numerous ABO congressional briefings and meetings with DOE, EPA, and USDA. Mark is also a former Adjacent Professor of Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Robert V. (Bob) Avant, Jr. – Director of Corporate Relations, Texas A&M AgriLife Research University

Bob, is Director of Corporate Relations at Texas A&M AgriLife Research, College Station, Texas.  His career includes more than 40 years of government and private sector experience in agriculture, environmental, energy, and consulting engineering areas. 
In his current position, he directs corporate relations activities for Texas A&M AgriLife Research, which is part of the Texas A&M University system.  He provides project management oversight for a $112 million agricultural and life sciences research portfolio and engages with major corporate sponsors as the point of contact person.  He leads a staff of 15 professionals in project management, technical disciplines, legal, accounting, and grants preparation who facilitate relationships with corporations and governmental entities on large, strategic projects.
He also works with federal and state elected officials, federal and state government officials, other universities and TAMUS entities, agricultural groups, and industry to expand sponsored research opportunities for Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
Bob has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Agricultural Engineering from Texas A&M and is a Registered Professional Engineer. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force.

Jacques Beaudry-Losique – Senior Vice President of Corporate and Business Development, Algenol Biotech

Jacques Beaudry-Losique was appointed Senior Vice President of Corporate and Business Development for Algenol on July 1st 2013.   Mr. Beaudry-Losique leads Algenol Business Development Team and also manages Government and Regulatory Affairs for the Company, working with elected officials and government agencies on policy and regulatory issues. Jacques has more than 20 years experience working in the energy and technology sectors, and was previously Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy for Codexis, a publicly traded biofuels and biopharma company (NASDAQ: CDXS).   From 2005 to 2011, Beaudry-Losique held senior policy and management positions at the Department of Energy.
At the DOE, Jacques led efforts to build a second-generation biofuels industry across two administrations, managed three clean energy programs, and served for two years as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Renewable Energy.  Mr. Beaudry-Losique was also instrumental in decisions to invest more than $1.5 billion of Recovery Act funds in renewable energy projects, including $800 million in biofuels projects.  Additional experience for Beaudry-Losique includes senior management positions with GE Power Systems and Aspen Technologies (NASDAQ: AZPN), a process engineering software company. Jacques began his career with Shell Canada where he held senior engineering, fuel quality and process optimization roles.  Additionally, Jacques worked with and advised Fortune 500 companies while at McKinsey & Co.
Mr. Beaudry-Losique holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Montreal, a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management from Stanford University and a Master of Science degree in Management from MIT.

Craig Behnke – Vice President of Research and Development, Sapphire Energy

Craig Behnke joined Sapphire Energy soon after its founding in 2008, and has focused on implementing rapid improvements in biochemical research and development, analytical method development, and translation of R&D from lab to pilot scale to commercial production. Sapphire’s world-leading technology uses sunlight, CO2, non-potable water, non-arable land, nutrients, and novel strains of algae in outdoor ponds to produce renewable biomass which is converted into high-value oils, aquaculture and animal feeds, fuels and other valuable products.

Dr. Behnke has over 17 years of experience in industrial biotechnology & pharmaceutical R&D, primarily at startup companies. His experiences prior to joining Sapphire included structural biology, physical biochemistry, small molecule drug discovery, assay development, and translational R&D. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Washington.

thomas-byrne-algal-biomass-organizationThomas Byrne – Tax Manager, CarlsonSV; Secretary/Treasurer, ABO

Thomas Byrne, CPA, CGMA, EDFP is one of the biomass industry’s most experienced project consultants. A Certified Public Accountant since 1979, Mr. Byrne provides expertise in business structure, tax consulting, feasibility studies, financial modeling, business plan preparation, equity meetings organization, startup management, project organization, and grant application. 

Mr. Byrne has a passion for the emerging algae-to energy-industry. His company co-hosted the inaugural Algae Biomass Summit in November 2007 in San Francisco, California and the 2008 Summit in Seattle, Washington, which were the foundation for establishing the Algal Biomass Organization in 2008. Mr. Byrne was elected to the ABO’s Board of Directors and serves as Board Secretary.

Dr. John Benemann – CEO, MicroBio Engineering Inc.

Dr. Benemann has both a B.S. in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, both from the University of California Berkeley; in addition he spent three years as postdoctoral fellow, Dept. of Chemistry, U.C. San Diego; then rejoined U.C. Berkeley in the Department of Civil Engineering, where, as an independent researcher where he supervised half dozen Ph.D. thesis students in Civil Engineering, Biophysics and Plant Physiology. In 1980, he started a small microalgae biotechnology company and from 1983-1988 was Associate Professor at Georgia Inst. of Technology.
For the past 20+ years he has been a part time researcher at the University of California Berkeley (Depts. of Civil Engineering and Plant and Microbial Biology). and at the University of Hawaii (adjunct Professor), and a full-time consultant. His current research interests are the areas of microalgae products, aquaculture, wastewater treatment, photosynthesis, municipal solid wastes management, biofuels and all aspects of greenhouse gas abatement.
He is the author of numerous publications and reports and belongs to a number of professional and trade organizations. He was the manager of the “Microalgae Biofixation Network” operated by the IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programmer.

Dr. Amha Belay – CTO, Earthrise Nutritionals

Dr. Amha Belay is Sr. Vice President and CTO of Earthrise Nutritionals, a company that has been engaged in outdoor Spirulina biomass production for over 30 years. Dr. Belay has an extensive experience in microalgae biomass production both in natural lakes as well as in mass culture outdoors. He has an extensive experience in quality management systems, product development and health application of algae in general and Spirulina in particular. Currently, he is in charge of all scientific, technical and regulatory aspects of Spirulina production.
In addition to his own research on various aspects of mass production and application of Spirulina, Dr. Belay is also engaged in research activities and coordination of several contracted research from various institutions and companies in the area of biomass production for food, feed, fuel and biochemicals. He serves as a technical advisor, board member and expert reviewer of several organizations.
Prior to joining Earthrise, Dr. Belay was Associate Professor and Head of the Biology Department, Science Faculty, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, Senior Fellow of the Third World Academy of Sciences, Italy, a research fellow at the Freshwater Institute, UK, and Senior Fulbright Fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Belay has published several scientific papers, and has served as an editor, editorial board member and reviewer of many journals.
Dr. Belay is a founding and an executive committee member of the International Society for Applied Phycology, a member of the Phycological Society of America, the Asia-Pacific Society for Algal Biotechnology, Algae Biomass Organization, the International Society of Food Technologists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science to mention a few.
Dr. Belay has recently received the “Distinguished Applied Phycologist Award” from the International Society for Applied Phycology.

Dr. Keith Cooksey – Environmental Biotechnology Consultants; Director Emeritus, ABO

Dr. Keith Cooksey has more than 40 years experience in isolating, growing and performing physiological, biochemical and ecological studies on freshwater and marine microalgae. He was a lead investigator in the DoE, Solar Energy Research Institute’s Aquatic Species Program to remediate carbon dioxide and form biodiesel. At that time, work from his lab provided the program with a way to measure triglyceride in 1 mL of culture, a new way of looking at triglyceride (TAG) accumulation not previously considered and ideas where the controls of microalgal lipid synthesis and utilization may be located. Recently he has been elected to the Algal Biomass Organization Board of Directors.
His current research (with others) is funded by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Biomass Program of the Department of Energy. The goals of these are to examine the use of microalgae from extreme environments (e.g., Yellowstone Park) for TAG production as well as potential control points in microalgal lipid metabolism.
Professional memberships include American Society for Microbiology, Psychological Society of America, Society for General Microbiology (Great Britain), and the Algae Biomass Organization.

F. Lee Crockett – Director of Global Key Account Management & Global Marketing at DIC Japan; and Division Manager of Sales & Marketing at Earthrise Nutritionals, a wholly owned subsidiary of DIC.

As Director of GKAM and Global Marketing for DIC Japan’s Healthcare Division and Division Manager of Sales and Marketing for Earthrise Nutritionals, Lee provides strategic vision and leadership to global sales, marketing and key account management for DIC/Earthrise’s global algae business, which has been a global leader for nearly 40 years in mass-cultivation and sales of high-quality spirulina and spirulina extract ( Since joining Earthrise in 2013, Lee has successfully spearheaded a companywide campaign to strengthen Earthrise’s brand, sales and marketing by promoting the company’s core values of quality, integrity and service.  In 2015, Earthrise greatly expanded its business scope when it commissioned a state-of-the-art spirulina extraction plant to meet the rapidly expanding global demands for its Linablue® product, a natural blue colorant.  As a member of DIC and Earthrise’s senior management team, Lee is responsible for the sales and marketing of Earthrise and Linablue® products worldwide.

For over 30 years before joining DIC/Earthrise, Lee held various senior leadership roles with top global beverage and consumer product companies including Coca-Cola Japan, Nissan Motor Co. and Coleman Japan with direct P&L responsibility of US$2.5 billion, US$2.6 billion, and US$100 million respectively.  In addition to board member service, Lee’s past roles have focused on sales and marketing and he has extensive experience overseas having been responsible for sales marketing operations in over 120 countries worldwide.  Throughout his life and career, Lee has had a strong interest in and passion for nutrition, sports and physical fitness which led him to found his own nutritional supplement company which he successfully sold in 2005.  Lee is bicultural and bilingual in Japanese and has a MBA from the Darden Graduate School at the University of Virginia, a BS in Business Management from BYU, and a minor in Japanese.

Laurel Harmon

Laurel Harmon – Vice President of Government Relations, LanzaTech

Dr. Harmon provides policy direction and leadership on international legislative and regulatory matters and develops collaborative research and demonstration projects for LanzaTech. LanzaTech is the global leader in gas fermentation technology and was created with a vision of meeting the increasing global demand for affordable, low carbon fuels and sustainably produced chemicals that do not threaten food security or create indirect land use change. LanzaTech’s technology utilizes proprietary bacteria to produce ethanol in a biological gas fermentation process. Like all other routes to bioethanol, LanzaTech’s process involves biological conversion of inorganic carbon from gases to bioethanol that can be blended with gasoline for automotive transport. LanzaTech’s unique process leverages wastes and residues to produce sustainable fuels and platform chemicals that serve as building blocks for everyday products such as rubber and plastics.
Dr. Harmon joined LanzaTech from Striatus Inc., where she consulted on policies, projects and combinatorial discovery for advanced technologies, including energy and renewable fuels. After receiving her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from the University of Michigan, Dr. Harmon joined ERIM, a non-profit research organization, to conduct applied R&D for a variety of defense and other government customers. Later she was a technical co-founder of Nonlinear Dynamics, a company specializing in applied pattern recognition and data mining.
Dr. Harmon has over 25 years’ experience in policy matters and project development and has worked in the renewable fuels and chemicals area for the last ten years, in technical, management and policy capacities.

Jill Kauffman Johnson – Sustainability and External Affairs, Corbion

Jill Kauffman Johnson is the Vice President of Global Sustainability and External Affairs at Corbion. She leads strategy and execution of Corbion’s sustainability agenda, stakeholder engagement, and related public policy activities to support and enhance the company’s mission to make products that are better for people and the planet.
Prior to joining Corbion, Jill was a Principal and Managing Director of California Environmental Associates (CEA), a consulting firm working at the intersection of policy, philanthropy and the private sector to address some of today’s most serious environmental challenges. She founded the Sustainable Business practice working with clients to assess their operations to help green supply chains, improve operational efficiency, and reduce costs.
Jill has extensive experience in assisting manufacturers in chemical management, greening companies, and facilitating joint environmental initiatives among the private and non-profit sectors. She was the co-founder and Executive Director of the non-profit, Chemical Strategies Partnership. She led efforts to define and grow the Chemical Management Services (CMS) industry working with leading chemical service suppliers, their customers, and other stakeholders. Jill has also supported the launch of numerous nonprofit organizations including ClimateWorks Foundation, Trust for Conservation Innovation, Institute for Industrial Productivity, Global Buildings Performance Network, and the Roots of Change (ROC) Fund.
Prior to joining CEA, Jill was the founding Director of the Pacific Coast Regional Office of the Ocean Conservancy (formerly the Center for Marine Conservation). She also served as a market analyst for recycled plastic at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Jill is the recipient of the 2005 PIBA Award for Outstanding Safety, Health and Environmental Leadership to the Silicon Valley EH&S Community. She holds a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University and a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University.


Stephen Mayfield – Director, California Center for Algae Biotechnology

Stephen Mayfield is director of the California Center for Algae Biotechnology, and Food and Fuel for the 21st Century organized research unit at UC San Diego. His research focuses on the molecular genetics of green algae, and on the production of high value recombinant proteins and bio-products using algae as a production platform.
Steve received BS degrees in Biochemistry and Plant Biology from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo, and a PhD in Molecular Genetics from UC Berkeley. Following a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Geneva Switzerland he returned to California as an assistant professor at the Scripps Research Institute where he remained for 22 years becoming the Associate Dean of Biology before joining UC San Diego in 2009.
In addition to running his research group and university research centers, Steve also founded Rincon Pharmaceutical in 2005, Sapphire Energy in 2007, Triton Health and Nutrition in 2013, and Algenesis Materials in 2016.

Leslie van der Meulen – General Manager, BioProcess Algae

Leslie van der Meulen has served as General Manager of BioProcess Algae since February 2014. He joined BioProcess Algae as V.P. of Business Development in 2013. Before that, Leslie served as V.P. of Business Development for Aurora Algae from 2010 until 2013, where he led the company’s efforts in changing focus from biofuels to human and animal nutrition.
Prior to Aurora, Leslie was at Originates/Naturmega in the role of Sales & Marketing Director, where he was responsible the Omega-3 Fish oil business. Leslie has served on the board of directors for GOED (Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omga-3) since 2010 and has served as the organization’s chairman since 2012. Leslie has over 17 years extensive experience in international healthy ingredients businesses focused on human and animal nutrition.

Xun Wang – President, Triton Algae Innovations, Ltd.

Dr. Xun Wang joined Triton Algae Innovations, Ltd. in 2014 as President, bringing to the company over 20 years of experience leading biotechnology, bioprocessing Research and Product Development, and Business Development.
Prior to Triton, Dr. Wang was the Senior Vice President at Reliance Industries Ltd., a Fortune Global 500 company. His responsibilities included overseeing all aspects of Algae-to-Oil technology development, driving company scientific strategy, and developing internal and external scientific collaborations. Previously, he was the Senior Vice President of R&D at Sapphire Energy Inc., a leading algae biotechnology start-up company based in San Diego. Here, Xun led all programs, including algae genetics and breeding, cultivation, harvesting systems and downstream process engineering.
From 1993 to 2010, Dr. Wang held various positions in leading agricultural industries. Dr. Wang was the Syngenta China Country Head, the President of Syngenta Biotechnology (China) Co. Ltd. (SBC). He was also the Asia Pacific Regional Head of Biotechnology in Syngenta, a member in the Syngenta Global R&D Leadership Council, and a member of the Syngenta Global Biotechnology Leadership Team. From 2006 to 2010, he led the effort of setting up SBC, a Syngenta global R&D center. Before this, he was the Global Head of Trait Research and Technologies, Syngenta in North Carolina, as well as the Founder and Director at Torrey Mesa Research Institute (Syngenta Genomics) in San Diego. Prior to Syngenta, Dr. Wang was a Research Manager in Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Iowa USA, a DuPont Company, where he led the very first genome project in the agricultural industry.
Dr. Wang is author or co-author of over 50 patents, published over 20 international peer-reviewed research articles. Dr. Wang earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Biophysics from Iowa State University, and a BS in Chemistry and a MS in Biochemistry from Jilin University.

Rebecca White – Vice President of Operations, Qualitas Health and iWi®

Dr. Rebecca White is the Vice President of Operations for Qualitas Health, makers of iWi®, a Houston based food and nutrition company making algae-based products.  Dr. White oversees all production staff, ensures on spec production from all facilities and leads the company’s applied R&D and technical programs. Dr. White has over 10 years’ experience in the algae industry, having previously held the title of Director of Cultivation at Sapphire Energy, Inc. At Sapphire, she advanced algae harvesting and cultivation efforts that successfully demonstrated the commercial viability of producing algae to produce fuels and other high-value products.


Dr. White received her Ph.D. in Microbiology from Texas A&M University, where she was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow in Dr. Ry Young’s lab. Her post-doctoral work was completed at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla.  Dr. White is very active in promoting STEM education, currently serving on the Algae Foundation’s Board of Directors and Industrial Advisory Board, as well as on several committees for the foundation’s educational programs, the Algae Academy and the Algae Technical Education Consortium.  Dr. White is also a scientist for “Skype A Scientist” in K-12 classrooms across the country. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Algae Biomass Organization and organizes the annual Algae Product Showcase for the ABO annual meeting, to promote algae-based products currently and soon to be on the market, and is chair of the ABO’s communication committee and membership committee.  She has a passion for science communication and public relations.  Dr. White also serves on the Board of Directors for the Aggie Women, part of the Texas A&M Former Students Network.

Ross Zirkle – Director of Molecular Biotechnology, DSM Nutritional Products

Ross Zirkle is Director of Molecular Biotechnology at DSM Nutritional Products in Columbia, MD and currently leads R&D activities focused on developing new and improved strains of microalgae for the production of nutritional oils.  Dr. Zirkle joined Martek Biosciences in 2003 and DSM, via acquisition, in 2010.  He has served as R&D lead on projects involving microalgae as production platforms for therapeutic proteins, biofuel and omega-3 rich oils.
Prior to joining Martek Biosciences, Dr. Zirkle was a Research Scientist at Novartis/Syngenta in Research Triangle Park, NC.  His research centered on production of bioactive secondary metabolites and polyketide biosynthesis.  Dr. Zirkle was the co-recipient of the Pete Linsert Innovation Award at Martek in 2008 and 2012 and is a co-inventor on more than 30 US patents.
Dr. Zirkle earned his Bachelor and Master of Science in biochemistry and microbiology from Virginia Tech and his Ph.D. from North Carolina State University.