Meet our experts

GFI’s scientists, lawyers, analysts, and business strategists are leading experts in the alternative protein space. Our team is dedicated to accelerating innovation to make plant-based, cultivated, and fermentation-derived products as delicious, affordable, and accessible as conventional animal products.

If you are a member of the media and would like to connect with one of our experts, please contact media@gfi.org.

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Our experts

Bruce friedrich

Bruce Friedrich

PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER

Bruce Friedrich serves as GFI’s chief thought leader and relationship-builder, working in close partnership with GFI’s global teams and food system stakeholders around the world.

Areas of expertise: alternative proteins generally, GFI’s global programs and strategy, bicycling in heavy traffic.

Ilya sheyman

Ilya Sheyman

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Ilya leads all aspects of GFI’s programmatic and administrative operations in the U.S., working alongside the U.S. leadership team to ensure GFI is executing towards maximal impact in transforming our food system while building an inclusive, equitable culture where every team member can thrive.

Areas of expertise: strategic plan implementation, program leadership, infrastructure and operations

Jessica almy, j. D.

Jessica Almy, J.D.

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, POLICY

Jessica Almy, J.D., leads GFI’s Policy team in setting an innovative policy agenda to accelerate progress on alternative proteins.

Areas of expertise: regulation, legislation, science and public policy, public health, environmental law, food policy.

Liz specht, ph. D.

Liz Specht, Ph.D.

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Liz Specht oversees GFI’s Science and Technology department to build a roadmap for accelerating alternative protein research while empowering scientists to execute on this vision.

Areas of expertise: plant-based meat, fermentation, technical analyses, forecasting and modeling, synthetic biology, public speaking.

Caroline bushnell

Caroline Bushnell

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CORPORATE ENGAGEMENT

Caroline Bushnell leads GFI’s Corporate Engagement team in their work with companies and investors around the world to accelerate the alternative protein industry.

Areas of expertise: food industry, alternative protein ecosystem, market trends, consumer insights, CPG marketing, emerging industry opportunities.

Sheila voss

Sheila Voss

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, COMMUNICATIONS

Sheila Voss oversees GFI’s strategic awareness and action campaigns, data-driven storytelling, and communications-related partnerships.

Areas of expertise: plant science and sustainability, agricultural education, biodiversity and climate change messaging.

Nir goldstein

Nir Goldstein

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, ISRAEL

Nir Goldstein leads GFI Israel, pushing plant-based and cultivated meat innovation in what is often called “Startup Nation.”

Areas of expertise: food tech entrepreneurship, business strategy and development, policy, intellectual property.

Gus guadagnini

Gus Guadagnini

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, BRAZIL

Gus Guadagnini leads GFI Brazil, building partnerships with many of the world’s leading meat and agricultural companies.

Areas of expertise: Brazil, plant-based proteins, entrepreneurship, startups, strategic planning, project management, marketing.

Mirte gosker

Mirte Gosker

MANAGING DIRECTOR, ASIA PACIFIC

Mirte Gosker leads GFI Asia Pacific as managing director, accelerating the markets for plant-based and cultivated meat through research and innovation.

Areas of expertise: entrepreneurship, business strategy and development, project management, people management, philanthropy.

Nathan ahlgrim

Nathan Ahlgrim

ACADEMIC COMMUNITY MANAGER

Nathan manages the Alt Protein Project, in which he empowers student groups around the globe to build the alternative protein field at their university.

Areas of expertise: community-building, program operations, early career coaching, education, psychology, neuroscience

Marika azoff

Marika Azoff

CORPORATE ENGAGEMENT LEAD – RETAIL AND FOOD SERVICE

Marika leads GFI’s work with foodservice operators, retailers, and distributors to inspire and accelerate their shift toward alternative proteins.

Areas of expertise: foodservice, retail, distribution, alternative seafood, relationship development, public speaking

Amanda bess

Amanda Bess

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY ANALYSIS MANAGER

Amanda leads SciTech’s technical analyses and supports strategic planning of future research focused on the tractability and sustainability of alternative protein technologies.

Areas of expertise: environmental science, critical analysis, program management, strategic planning

Claire bomkamp, ph. D.

Claire Bomkamp, Ph.D.

LEAD SCIENTIST, CULTIVATED MEAT & SEAFOOD

Claire Bomkamp is focused on cultivated seafood and driving forward GFI’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative.

Areas of expertise: the science and technology of cultivated seafood, cultivated seafood startups, research, and university programs, scaffolding, science communication, fish puns.

Laura braden

Laura Braden, J.D.

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF REGULATORY AFFAIRS

Laura Braden works on domestic and global regulatory issues affecting cultivated meat and plant-based foods.

Areas of expertise: U.S. and global regulation, patents, litigation.

Laura clark

Laine Clark

SENIOR CORPORATE ENGAGEMENT MANAGER, INNOVATION

Laine serves as Senior Corporate Engagement Manager, Innovation, helping to position GFI as a valuable resource for emerging and established alternative protein companies.

Areas of expertise: entrepreneurship, fundraising, commercialization, strategic planning, team building, and market validation

Erin rees clayton

Erin Rees Clayton, Ph.D.

SENIOR SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ADVISOR

Erin Rees Clayton, Ph.D. supports GFI’s efforts to generate and communicate data-driven insights to accelerate the global alternative protein scientific ecosystem.

Areas of expertise: alternative protein scientific research needs, research funding, research project management.

Simone costa, phd

Simone Costa, Ph.D.

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY & INNOVATION

Simone Costa oversees SciTech’s technical solutions team to evaluate and advance technological readiness across alternative protein platforms.

Areas of expertise: biomolecular and protein engineering, fermentation, cell biology, strategic planning

Lucas eastham

Lucas Eastham

SENIOR FERMENTATION SCIENTIST

Lucas Eastham is focused on analyzing fermentation technologies, and progressing their applications in the alternative protein industry.

Areas of expertise: microbial biotechnology, upstream strain and process development, downstream process development, bioprocess product commercialization

Carolyn englar

Carolyn Englar

MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Carolyn Englar crafts compelling stories to advance alternative proteins and transform the global food system.

Areas of expertise: global communications, media strategy, public relations, relationship management

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Faraz Harsini, M.Sc., Ph.D., DipACLM

SENIOR SCIENTIST, BIOPROCESSING

Faraz analyzes how best to scale the cultivated meat industry and ensure that products can enter and grow in the marketplace as quickly as possible.

Areas of expertise: biotechnology, cultivated meat, technical analysis and research

Matt hotze, ph. D.

Matt Hotze, Ph.D.

DIRECTOR OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Matt Hotze serves as a leading learner who oversees operations of the Science & Technology Department; he identifies and removes roadblocks as the team builds out the ever-expanding map of alternative protein research.

Areas of expertise: team building and leadership, nanotechnology, water treatment, scientific publishing, e-biking across Houston

Amy huang

Amy Huang

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF SCIENTIFIC ECOSYSTEMS

Amy Huang oversees GFI’s efforts to transform universities into engines for alternative protein research and education.

Areas of expertise: university programs, academic ecosystem-building, global health, design thinking, effective altruism, public speaking.

Image of emma ignaszewski

Emma Ignaszewski

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, INDUSTRY INTELLIGENCE & INITIATIVES

Emma Ignaszewski oversees the corporate engagement team’s industry intelligence and initiatives to catalyze corporate innovation that will radically transform the food system and deliver alternative protein products that compete on the key drivers of consumer choice: taste, price, and convenience.

Areas of expertise: alternative protein market landscape, research & analysis, strategy, marketing & communications, alt protein sustainability & climate impacts.

Nikhita kogar, ph. D.

Nikhita Kogar, Ph.D.

SENIOR LEAD SCIENTIST, PLANT-BASED

Nikhita is focused on the technical landscape of plant-based proteins and how to expand their impact and adoption.

Areas of expertise: plant-based product development, materials science, physicochemical characterization, food chemistry

Jill lauson

Jill Lauson

RESEARCH GRANT PROGRAM MANAGER

Jill Lauson oversees GFI’s Research Grant Program, maximizing the impact of GFI-funded research through effective coordination, stakeholder engagement, and systems integration.

Areas of expertise: research grant management, researcher support, data management, process improvement

Adam leman

Adam Leman, Ph.D.

LEAD SCIENTIST, FERMENTATION

Adam is focused on engineering a new paradigm in food production.

Areas of expertise: microbial fermentation, precision fermentation, molecular biology

Priera panescu

Priera Panescu, Ph.D.

LEAD SCIENTIST, PLANT-BASED

Priera Panescu is focused on analyzing plant-based meat and proteins and how to best expedite their progress.

Areas of Expertise: food and agriculture systems, materials science, polymer chemistry, plant-based ingredients

Samantha riches

Samantha Riches

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, RESEARCH FUNDING

Samantha is responsible for leading the SciTech research funding team.

Areas of expertise: research funding, global network building, program management

Elliot swartz, ph. D.

Elliot Swartz, Ph.D.

PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST, CULTIVATED MEAT

Elliot Swartz analyzes scientific progress and bottlenecks in cultivated meat.

Areas of expertise: cultivated meat: cell culture media, costs, and environmental impact

Explore our focus areas

Green algae cells representing science and technology concept

Science

Explore the science of plant-based, cultivated, and fermentation-derived meat. Discover research ideas, funding opportunities, and open-access tools.

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Industry

Find market opportunities, open-access resources, and tailored guidance for producing and selling alternative proteins.

A close up of a gavel on a wooden desk, representing food policy concept

Policy

Learn why alt proteins offer solutions to the issues that governments want to address. As a nonprofit, we advocate fair policy and public funding.