The leadership of the Algae Biomass Organization is critical is assisting the industry to move forward towards commercialization.
The Algae Biomass Organization’s Board of Directors come from a broad range of backgrounds and have a diversity of expertise and experience that spans science, technology, engineering, public policy, education, business, and entrepreneurship. All board members share ABO’s vision of a world where humankind universally thrives with access to sustainable and productive resources and their active and engaged leadership is critical in propelling the algae industry forward towards commercialization.
Martin Gross – President/Co-Founder, Gross-Wen Technologies; Chairperson, ABO
Dr. Martin Gross is the President and a founder at Gross-Wen Technologies (GWT). GWT is a next generation wastewater treatment company that is commercializing the revolving algal biofilm treatment technology (RAB). The RAB system sustainably recovers nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater. The byproducts from the process are clean water, clean air, and algae biomass, which can be used to create products ranging from fertilizers to nutraceuticals. During his role as President at GWT, he has raised over $5M in equity investments, served as Principal Investigator on over $1M in non-diluting SBIR grant funding, applied for and been granted numerous patents, and helped orchestrate the first commercial sale of GWT’s core RAB technology.
Prior to founding GWT, Gross attained dual doctoral degrees from Iowa State University in the fields of Bioprocess Engineering and Food Science and Technology. Gross also serves as a professor of entrepreneurship at ISU.
Mike LaMont – Chief Technical Officer, Heliae Development LLC; Vice Chairperson, ABO
As Chief Technical Officer at Heliae Development LLC, Mike LaMont leads the technical development from concept at R&D through product and process development into final implementation at full scale for the advancement of PhycoTerra, the microalgae-based, biological agriculture product line. Mike has served the advancement of Heliae since 2013. Before being appointed as CTO, Mike directed efforts across multiple platforms from head of operations to design of growth systems to downstream processing. Prior to joining Heliae, Mike worked in a derivative of the classic petrochemical industry focused 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 Laboratory galvanized Mike’s belief in the power of cross-functional, cross-trained teams. During his 25+ years of research and production experience, Mike has authored multiple publications, spoken at numerous conferences from Thailand to Hawaii, worked in multiple countries, 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.
Thomas 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. Amha Belay – Founder / CEO, 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 and the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Algae Biomass Organization.
Leslie Bellas – Federal Regulatory Affairs Manager, Neste.
As an environmental and regulatory lawyer for thirty years, Leslie has provided legal, regulatory, policy, and governance counselling to corporations, trade associations, the U.S. government, and non-profit entities. In her current role, Ms. Bellas develops and advocates for federal regulatory strategy on behalf of all Neste business units and its Innovation platform, which has been exploring and developing the use of algae as a feedstock for renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel.
Neste is in the business of fighting climate change. Not complacent to be the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel from wastes and residues, Neste has long been researching and developing the next generation biofuel feedstocks, such as algae, municipal solid waste, and even converting power to liquids. Immediately prior to joining Neste, Leslie provided legal, regulatory, and policy advice to the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi.
Leslie received her JD from Georgetown University Law Center and a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University. As a lifelong learner, Leslie recently completed a sustainability certificate from Harvard University Extension School.
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.
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.
Nagatoshi Ide, PhD – Senior Technical Division Manager, Earthrise Nutritionals LLC
Dr. Nagatoshi Ide is Senior Technical Division Manager at Earthrise Nutritionals LLC, and has overseen their Quality, New Product Development and Regulatory since 2019.
Dr. Ide has more than 25 years of experience and knowledge in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and food industries in both research and management roles. He has a PhD in Natural Organic Chemistry and published over 50 scientific papers during his research career in Japan, US and Germany. Following his research career, he was appointed as R&D Director at a Japanese pharmaceutical/nutraceutical company, and returned to the US in 2006. He has cooperated on more than 20 research projects with universities and research institutions around the world, including many human clinical studies using dietary supplements; leading to 30 scientific publications, and in addition, launched over 50 new products for the pharmaceutical/nutraceutical markets worldwide. He has also been involved in product registration and has knowledge in regulatory for dietary supplement/nutraceutical products in Japan, US, EU and China. With all of these experiences, including customer support from previous companies, he has helped maintain Earthrise’s high quality products in the current position of Earthrise Nutritionals.
Earthrise Nutritionals LLC is a subsidiary of Dainippon Ink and Chemicals (DIC) Corporation in Tokyo, Japan, and has produced and cultivated spirulina, an amazing environmentally sustainable algae, for over 45 years and its extract, a natural blue pigment Linablue® since 2015 in southern California. Earthrise is the world’s largest spirulina farm, and together with our sister company’s farm in China, DIC group is the largest spirulina producer in the world.
Jen Johansen – Vice President of Quality, Regulatory & Government Affairs, Cyanotech
Ms. Johansen has 18 years of experience in quality, regulatory & government affairs. She serves as the Chair of the Algae Biomass Organization (ABO), is a Board Director for the Kona Kohala Chamber of Commerce (KKCC), and is also a member of KKCC’s Economic Development, Government Affairs, and Sustainability Committees. Ms. Johansen is a member of the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS), the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) Government Affairs Committee, the American Herbalist Guild, is an American Society of Quality certified HACCP Auditor, and is a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI). Since 2012 she has been working to develop the next generation of congressional champions for the Dietary Supplement and Natural Products industry. 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.
Daniel J. Levy, PG – Vice President, AECOM
Dan is the National Director for AECOM’s Algae Mitigation Practice. AECOM is the world’s premier infrastructure and consulting firm. With offices in over 150 counties and annual revenues in 2020 of $13.2 billion, AECOM provides a collaborative force of innovators, problem solvers and visionaries to solve the world’s most complex challenges. As AECOM’s National Director for Algae, Dan’s team is focused developing innovative solutions to restore our nation’s nutrient impacted waterways by valorizing the transformation of wild and harmful algae into commercial products, biofuel and fertilizers. Dan’s experience includes research and development of ground-breaking treatment technologies and is the co-inventor of the patented SEDCUT dredging technology for the removal of nutrient rich sediments and the patent pending Hypernucleation Flotation System (HFS) for the removal of wild and harmful algae. Dan served as the Project Director for the Florida Governor’s 2018 emergency response toxic algae mitigation program, the 2019 New York Governor’s innovative HAB research pilot test and the award winning USACE Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment and Transformation (HABITATS) research program. Dan is also the recipient of; 2018 National Western Dredging Association (WEDA) Environmental Excellence Award, 2018 FDEP Southeast District Superior Excellence Distinction Award for outstanding environmental practices, and 2019 Environmental Business Journal (EBJ) Award for Social Contribution for development of an innovative Algae Harvesting program.
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.