Board of Directors

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

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

Jill Kauffman Johnson -Head of Global Market Development, Algae Ingredients, Corbion; Vice Chairperson, ABO

Jill Kauffman Johnson is Head of Global Market Development for Algae Ingredients at Corbion, a Netherlands-based global leader in food and bio-based ingredients. She leads Sustainability, External Affairs and Marketing efforts for Corbion’s Algae Ingredients business.  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 was also the founding Director of the Pacific Coast Regional Office of the Ocean Conservancy.  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.

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 – UCSD/Algae4All

Dr. Belay is currently a Visiting Scholar at UCSD and CEO of Algae4All, LLC, a consulting company focused on algae biomass production, quality assurance, product development, regulatory guidance, management, project evaluation and education. Up to recently, Dr. Belay was Sr. Vice President and CTO of Earthrise Nutritionals, a company that has been engaged in outdoor Spirulina biomass production for food, feed and nutraceuticals for about 40 years. He oversaw all scientific, technical and regulatory aspects of Spirulina production. Dr. Belay has an extensive experience in microalgae biomass production, algal product development, quality assurance and health and other applications of algae in general and Spirulina in particular.  He is actively engaged in research on algae production for food, feed, fuel and biochemicals. He serves as a technical advisor, board member and expert reviewer of several organizations. Dr. Belay is a founding and past executive committee member of the International Society for Applied Phycology, a member of the Phycological Society of America, the International Society of Food Technologists and the American Association for the Advancement of Science to mention a few. He is also a board member of the Algae Biomass Organization.

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 a 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 recipient of 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.

David Hazlebeck – CEO/Founder, Global Algae Innovations

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.

Jen Johansen – Vice President of Quality, Regulatory & Government Affairs, Cyanotech

Ms. Johansen has 15 years of experience in quality and regulatory, and is a member of the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society, is an American Society of Quality certified HACCP Auditor, and is a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI). Ms. Johansen is instrumental in building relationships with local and federal leadership and developing Hawaii as the next leader in the natural products industry. Since 2012 Ms. Johansen has been working alongside the United Natural Products Alliance (UNPA) to develop the next generation of congressional champions for the Dietary Supplement and Natural Products industry. She is the Chairwoman for the Hawaii State Chapter of UNPA and is on the Kona Kohala Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee and Sustainability Committee. Ms. Johansen attended the University of Oregon on a full athletic scholarship for basketball and obtained her degree in Psychology, with a minor in Organic Chemistry.

Mike LaMont – Vice President of Operations, Heliae Development LLC

As Vice President of Operations at Heliae Development LLC, Mike LaMont leads the company’s operations, overseeing joint research & development and operations for the production and growth of Heliae’s microalgae-based biological agriculture products. Mike has served the advancement of Heliae since 2013. Before being appointed as lead of Operations, Mike directed efforts across multiple platforms from growth systems design to downstream processing to development project coordination. Prior to joining Heliae, Mike worked in a derivative of the classic petrochemical industry focusing on smaller footprint, higher-efficiency chemical processing. This ultimately led Mike to direct the design, construction and operations of a first-of-its-kind small scale gas-to-liquids pilot plant in Columbus, Ohio. His time working in the EMSL at Pacific Northwest National Lab galvanized Mike’s belief in the power of cross-functional, cross-trained teams. During his 20+ years of research and production experience, Mike has authored multiple publications, holds numerous patents and trade secrets, and is a member of several professional and trade organizations. Mike holds a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering from Washington State University, and Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from SD School of Mines & Technology.

Stephen Mayfield – Director, California Center for Algae Biotechnology, UC San Diego

Stephen Mayfield is director of the California Center for Algae Biotechnology, and Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of California 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 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.

David Ramjohn – Chief Executive Officer, AlgEternal Technologies

David holds a B.Sc. in Marine Biology and an M.Sc. in Environmental Studies (Policy and Law), with over 20 years’ experience in sustainable development and environmental and natural resource management.  He won the 2004 Bishop Robert Smith Award from the College of Charleston in South Carolina, and the 2002 Betty Spence Conservation Award from the South Carolina Wildlife Federation. David belongs to the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, the Golden Key Honor Society, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.  He was recently inducted into the 2019 Edition of “Marquis Who’s Who in America”.  He is a member of the Algae Biomass Organization (ABO), serving on the ABO’s Algae Foundation Education and Communication Committees, and is a member of the Phycological Society of America.

Prior to joining AlgEternal Technologies, David held a regulatory role as Executive Technical Assistant to the MD/CEO at the Environmental Management Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, moving into the private sector as the CEO of Synergy Resources Ltd., a Trinidad and Tobago company engaged in alternative and renewable energy technologies and sustainable development practices.  David also lectured in an MBA program on Sustainable Energy Management at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business of the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago.  He developed a successful algae business proposal that received approval for funding from the EXIM Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, which ultimately led to his current role as CEO of AlgEternal.  David believes that entrepreneurship, ecocentrism, and education hold the keys to widespread adoption of the sustainable algae economic platform for true environmental, social, and economic benefits.

David has restructured AlgEternal into a vertically integrated producer of algae-based products in two verticals: soil amendment and skin care, leveraging on AlgEternal’s patented algae growth platform, their Vertical Growth Module™.  David believes that humans must plan for a post-petroleum world; he views algae and their applications as the natural successor to fossil hydrocarbons to sustainably provide products and critical ecosystem services and support the transition to a circular economy.  David posits that harnessing the power of algae represents the single greatest opportunity for humans to ensure that Earth remains hospitable to our species—saving our place on the planet.

Umasudhan C.P. – President & Chief Executive Officer, Valensa

Fascinated by phytonutrients and botanicals, Uma has dedicated himself to the world of nutraceuticals and functional foods for the past 2 decades. He is currently the CEO, President and Board Member of Valensa. Uma has been part of the leadership team to keep Valensa on a fast growth trajectory as an indication-specific health solution company focused on 3 main strategic value pillars: Microalgae ‘greens’, Joint Health and Men’s health.  Before joining Valensa, he was part of the management team that rechristened and launched Parry Nutraceuticals as a global microalgae business through branded ingredients like Parry Organic Spirulina and also developed strategic alliances for foray into new business categories like Natural Carotenoids.

Umasudhan has a Bachelor of Engineering in Agriculture, Master’s in International Business, Leadership program – Universitas 21, Harvard ManageMentor certification, Executive MBA – University of Central Florida and Wharton Business School – Finance & Accounting program certification.

His personal goal is to continue offering good health & nutrition into the hands of the global consumer.

Rebecca White -Senior Scientific Advisor, 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.