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Algae Biomass Organization Announces 2021 Algae Industry Awards

Outstanding leaders, companies and innovations recognized by ABO

Preston, MN (October 7, 2021) — The Algae Biomass Organization’s (ABO) is pleased to recognize the winners of the 2021 Algae Industry Awards.  During ABO’s Annual Algae Biomass Summit, Executive Director, Dr. Rebecca White, announced outstanding leaders, companies and innovations that are at the forefront of efforts to develop new technologies and commercial markets for renewable and sustainable products derived from algae

This year, ABO added an additional award, the Pinnacle Award, to recognize exceptional dedication and service, beyond the call of duty, to advance the algae industry. In further recognition of the inaugural winner’s service, the full title of this award will be the Barb Scheveel Pinnacle Award for future recipients.  It will be given as the highest honor the ABO bestows on an individual or organization.

Pinnacle AwardIn recognition of exceptional dedication and service, beyond the call of duty, to advance the algae industry

Barb Scheveel, Administrative Coordinator, ABO

Barb is quite simply, the heart and soul of the ABO. She witnessed, recorded, and shared the story of this organization and our industry from its beginnings; originally focused primarily on biofuels, ABO has blossomed to include all algae and all products, supporting commercialization across the various sectors.  She has an incredible amount of institutional knowledge and memory, which she uses to solve virtually any problem; a common phrase is “let’s ask Barb”.

She’s a wealth of knowledge and creative solutions and goes above and beyond to make the Algae Biomass Organization a successful member organization.  Barb is the main contact with many for ABO.  Cannot log in, then ask Barb.  Need to find a member, ask Barb.  At ABS only 2/3 of your booth showed thanks to DHL and need to improvise fast, ask Barb.  Need advice on a contamination problem and don’t know who to talk with, ask Barb.  With tremendous grace, warmth, and enthusiasm, and always with a smile, she attracts so many into the algae community and then embraces their passion and excitement, creating a space for everyone to learn, share and grow.  She keeps us sorted and connected.  She works with the Membership to ensure that everyone gets their unique circumstances addressed above and beyond satisfaction. She supports the Board of Directors diligently and professionally. She has amazing attention to detail, and her ability to multitask and keep every ball in the air is legendary.

Members describe Barb as the pillar, den mother, linchpin, backbone, and most poignantly, the soul of the ABO.  In the words of John Benemann, “I can say that without her, we would not be here, most likely not be at all.” Thank you, Barb, for all the help, patience and memories over 14 years!

The Algae Industry Awards recognize excellence in the following areas and the 2021 winners include:

Breakthrough Product – For groundbreaking innovation using algae as part of novel solutions for global problems

Algae-C, API platform

Algae-C has developed a unique platform to produce important molecules for the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical and beauty industry using “designer algae”.  The innovation allows for the production of these molecules or ingredients at a low cost and in an environmentally sustainable manner. Additionally, this innovation will benefit all of the algae industry as it is a platform technology that through partnerships will bring more high value products and revenue to the industry.  

Product of the Year Award – In recognition of a high impact algae product that made significant contributions to the visibility of the algae industry within the last year

PhycoTerra® ST (Seed Treatment) from Heliae

PhycoTerra® is part of Heliae® Agriculture’s microalgal product family that has been applied to over a million acres of farm-land world-wide! This global impact is not only making a breakthrough for soil health and regenerative agricultural practices, but helping bring microalgae to the forefront of the carbon and climate change discussions with industry leaders and policy decision makers.

PhycoTerra® ST is a pioneering product on the forefront of microalgae-based seed treatments which was launched by Heliae® Agriculture in 2021 – the result of 13 years of research in the microalgae, soil and crop science fields to identify and cultivate microalgae strains with a precisely balanced carbon chemistry ideal for feeding a diverse range of soil microbes, including those in the spermosphere. PhycoTerra® ST has taken microalgal seed treatments from the lab into the field. Thanks to this, PhycoTerra® ST is raising the visibility of algae as growers, retailers and food companies realize the amazing potential microalgae has as a sustainable crop input that can be an essential part of holistic land management practices and regenerative agriculture.

Mid-Career Excellence Award – For excellence in scholarly achievements and a record of productive, independent, and impactful peer-reviewed research and creative scholarship activities

Zackary Johnson, Professor, Duke University

Dr. Johnson’s group broadly studies the abundance, diversity and activity of marine microbes, and his research focuses on the marine cyanobacteria Prochlorococcus, the most abundant phytoplankton in the open oceans and an excellent model marine microbe, as well as the biotechnological applications of marine microalgae.  His group is at the Marine Laboratory as part of the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University

Dr. Johnson has made vast contributions to the peer-reviewed literature in areas associated with microalgae cultivation, oceanography, molecular ecology, and microbiology genetics.  He has served as PI for three consortia funded by the U.S. DOE, including the Marine Algae Industrialization Consortium (MAGIC) and two derivative projects of the MAGIC consortium that are focused on cultivating algae using calcium carbonate and atmospheric CO2, respectively.  In addition, Dr. Johnson’s lab has conducted a range of basic science research associated with marine microbes, as detailed in the vast number of his peer-reviewed publications, including several publications in Science, Nature, and PNAS.  In addition to research, Dr. Johnson teaches many classes in molecular biology and marine science, such as Aquaculture in the Environment, Biological Oceanography, and Analysis of Ocean Ecosystems, to name a few.


Unsung Hero Award – For unheralded dedication and career contributions to the growth of the algae industry

Max Gangestad, Chief Operating Officer, Gross-Wen Technologies

Max has been with Gross-Wen Technologies from the beginning, and has dedicated his professional career to its success. His guidance during difficult times/situations has been key to many projects, and GWT would not be where it is today if it was not for him. Max deserves the unsung hero award because he is the glue that keeps us all together, if it was not for his dedication to GWT and perseverance through difficult situations it is hard to say what GWT would be today.  The success of GWT has raised the profile of algae in waste water treatment significantly, and that is a success for the industry overall.


Outstanding Contributions to the Industry 

Glenn Jensen, VP of Operations, Cyanotech Corporation

Glenn Jensen has been pioneering the commercial production of Spirulina since 1984 when he became employee number 3 for Cyanotech Corporation on the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.  With the mind of an engineer and entrepreneur Glenn’s professional career as an executive in Manufacturing and Operations has contributed to Cyanotech’s success as a world leader in the production not only of Spirulina but of Astaxanthin from Haematococcus pluvialis.  Glenn’s relentless problem solving ability and creativity to build a microalgae farm on bare lava resulted in one the first commercial scale cultivation systems of organic Spirulina, and an integrated microalgae production and electricity cogeneration system which was patented in 1997.  The patent was for an integrated plant design that included a microalgae production plant for growing, harvesting, drying algae and a fossil fuel motor-generator plant producing electrical energy.  Mr. Jensen was part of Cyanotech’s original crew that broke ground on 5 acres and has built it out to 96 acres of cultivation ponds, harvesting facilities, laboratories, R&D facilities, and a state-of the-art super-critical carbon dioxide extraction system which he was pivotal in commissioning in 2015.  Glenn literally knows where every pump and pipe lays beneath the ground.  His efforts have helped Cyanotech become one of the most vertically integrated microalgae companies in the world, with annual revenues of more than $30 million a year.  Not only has Mr. Jensen pioneered and made Spirulina and Astaxanthin products available to global consumers he has contributed to the sustainability efforts of Cyanotech bringing a 2,280 solar panel array to the farm in 2014, which allowed the company to receive all of its daytime energy from solar and to offset 791 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.  Glenn is currently working to expand Cyanotech’s solar energy capacity by installing two additional systems which further reduce emissions by 163 metric tons per year. 


Lifetime Achievement Award – For contributions to the algae industry over the whole of a career in academia and/or industry, including commercial success, significant research contributions, policy activities, outreach, workforce development/educational activities, and/or mentoring activities.


Dr. Ami Ben-Amotz, CSO of NBT Ltd., Israel, and Emeritus Professor

Prof. Ami Ben-Amotz received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees at the Hebrew University of

Jerusalem, and PhD at the Weitzman Institute of Science (WIS), Israel. His PhD focused work focused on the halotolerant alga Dunaliella. He completed a post doc studies at Brandeis University, Boston, USA, and focused on hydrogen production by marine microalgae and was a recipient of the Batsheva de Rothschild fellowship on marine microalgae at the University of California, La Jolla, San Diego, USA with Prof. Ralph Lewin.

Following his post-doctoral work Ami Ben-Amotz returned to Israel in 1975 and initiated long academic, applied and research algal activities at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the National Israeli Institute of Oceanography (NIO) and at the WIS. In 1981, the commercial Dunaliella plant in Eilat, Israel, known as Nature Beta Technologies Ltd, (NBT Ltd), later subsidiary of Nikken Sohonsha Co., Japan. Ami Ben-Amotz was the Founder and Chief Scientist of NBTwhere he still serves as Chief Scientist. During his extensive career with marine microalgae, Ami Ben-Amotz worked as a visitingProfessor at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA, as Head of the Department ofMarine Biology, the NIO, and as Head of the Dunaliella Section at the WIS, Israel.  In 2012, Ami Ben Amotz founded Seambiotic Ltd, a joint collaboration with the Israeli Electric Company using DE-sulfuring coal burning flue gas (low SO2 – FGD) and turbine cooling seawater to grow Nannochloropsis and other marine

microalgae on pilot plant area of one acre). This work continued on a larger scale of 10 hectares pond area in China by Hairong Ltd Yantai.

Ami Ben-Amotz was one of the founders of the International Society of Applied Phycology.

Later Ami Ben-Amotz served as President of the International Marine Biotechnology Conference in Israel in 2007 and subsequently for 4 years, 2014-2018 as Leading Partner of the European Commission D-Factory project on Dunaliella.

Ami Ben-Amotz was visiting Professor and visiting Scientist of many global universities and

institutes all related to marine microalgae. Today, Ami Ben-Amotz is acting as Emeritus professor of IOLR, and the WIS, Israel, Chief Scientist of NBT, Israel, and Chief Scientist of Nikken Sohonsha Co., Japan. Ami Ben-Amotz trained many students and has published more than 150 scientific publications, including three books on aspects related of marine microalgae, applied phycology, natural products & environment.


Dr. Amha Belay, CEO, Algae4All

Dr. Belay received his Bachelor of Science degree from the Haile Selassie I University (now called Addis Abba University) in his home country of Ethiopia. He completed his PhD at University of London and University of North Wales in Algal Physiology/Phytoplankton ecology/Limnology.

Dr. Belay was an Associate Professor and Head of the Biology Department at Addis Ababa University and was involved in many aquatic developmental projects in Ethiopia.
In 1988, he was a Senior Fulbright Fellow, an award given for distinguished senior scientists from across the world after a rigorous competition. This award was given for research in the utilization of water from a lake to grow spirulina in outdoor ponds. The implication of the study was that this large aquatic resource could be used in a sustainable manner to produce Spirulina for local consumption and export thereby improving the health of the local population as well as generate work and revenue for the local impoverished population. Prior to this he was a Third World Academy of Sciences Fellow at the Institute of Hydrobiology in Pallanza, Italy and a Senior Research Fellow at the Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside, UK.

In 2014, he received the Distinguished Applied Phycologist Award from the International Society for Applied Phycology, for his significant and continued and outstanding contribution to the field of applied phycology (the science of algae).
Dr. Belay was Sr. Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Earthrise Nutritionals for over 25 years and has been engaged in outdoor Spirulina biomass production for food, feed, and nutraceuticals for over 40 years. He oversaw all scientific, technical, and regulatory aspects of Spirulina production. He has numerous publications, including several chapters in books, the only authoritative book on Spirulina, and is considered a pre-eminent global expert in microalgae and its uses.

He serves as a technical advisor, board member and expert reviewer of several organizations. Dr. Belay was 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 and the Ethiopian Environment and Sustainable Development Council.

Leadership Through Service Award – For exceptional contributions to the growth of the algae industry through volunteerism and service

Dr. Charles J. O’Kelly, Director of Applied Research, Cyanotech Corporation

Dr. Charles O’Kelly known by his friends and colleagues as Charley, has more than 40 years in academic, governmental, and commercial algal research.  His leadership & service has afforded him a unique perspective and impact on the growth of the algae industry.  Dr. O’Kelly received his Ph.D. in Botany at the University of Washington and Friday Harbor, WA.  He contributed to the advancement of algae as an Assistant Professor at Massey University, lecturing on plant biodiversity and publishing research on the evolutionary history of algae.  Charley has pioneered genomic and taxonomic research and led a grant funded team for research on green algal and protozoan biodiversity at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences.  Dr. O’Kelly’s work in Hawaii began at the University of Hawaii, Manoa where he managed a 1500-strain collection of cyanobacteria, heterotrophic bacteria, and algae.  His expertise extends into algal strain isolation and characterization as well as harmful algal blooms. He served as the Director of Research for Cellana LLC before joining Cyanotech Corporation in 2015 where he founded the R&D Department and has championed its mission to support all aspects of Cyanotech’s Spirulina and Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae production.  Charley has more than 90 peer-reviewed publications and is an experienced Department of Energy and National Science Foundation grant administrator.  He is ready to volunteer time to support the efforts of HATCH aquaculture incubator start-up entities such as Symbrosia and is currently collaborating with Global Thermostat and Microbio Energy to cultivate Chlorella in an alkaline environment for carbon capture.


Champion of Algae Award – For exceptional contributions to growing the algae industry through professional service

Mark Allen, President, Accelergy

Mark Allen is one of the founding members of ABO and has served twice as Board Chair for the organization.  Over the past 15 years, Mark has been one of the most passionate and effective advocates for the algae industry.  He was a key player in the founding and startup of the ABO, as well as playing an instrumental role in advancing policy efforts and helping to secure millions of dollars for the algae industry.  His most recent term serving as Board Chair was exceptional.  Mark helped to lead ABO through a time of transition, stepping in to lead the organization in the absence of an Executive Director for more than a year.  He provided steady and consistent leadership for the organization, as well as serving as an enthusiastic representative of the industry in policy arenas.

About the Algae Biomass Organization

The Algae Biomass Organization is the non-profit trade association and unified voice of the algae industry. Working on behalf of all sectors, the ABO advocates for algae-advancing policy and funding, serves as a hub for innovation and networking, and drives demand for “made with algae” products and services.

The annual Algae Biomass Summit, ABO’s signature event, is the largest global gathering of algae producers, researchers, investors, suppliers, policy makers, and other stakeholders.

Founded in 2008, the ABO is led by a Board of Directors representative of the industry’s value chain. Together, with the broader membership, they strive to deliver on the shared mission to promote and accelerate the power of algae to create a step-change in the health and well-being of humanity and the environment. More information is at:

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