Meet our experts

GFI’s scientists, lawyers, analysts, and business strategists are leading experts in the alternative protein space. Our team is dedicating 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

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Bruce Friedrich

FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Bruce Friedrich directs GFI’s strategic planning and execution in the United States and globally.

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

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Jessica Almy, J.D.

DIRECTOR OF POLICY

Jessica Almy, J.D., leads GFI’s Policy team in setting legislative and regulatory strategy to promote fair policies and public research for plant-based, cultivated, and fermented foods.

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

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Liz Specht, Ph.D.

DIRECTOR OF 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.

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Caroline Bushnell

DIRECTOR OF 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.

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Sanah Baig

CHIEF OF STAFF

Sanah Baig manages GFI’s strategic planning, execution, and evaluation efforts. She serves as chief connector and integrator on the leadership team, focused primarily on building cohesion and delivering results.

Areas of expertise: federal policy, navigating USDA, food systems, nonprofit management.

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Sheila Voss

DIRECTOR OF 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.

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Varun Deshpande

MANAGING DIRECTOR, INDIA

Varun Deshpande leads GFI India’s growing team in the world’s second-most populous country.

Areas of expertise: India, Southeast Asia, startups, business strategy and strategic planning, grant writing, public speaking, and data analysis.

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Nir Goldstein

MANAGING DIRECTOR, 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.

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Gus Guadagnini

MANAGING DIRECTOR, 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.

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Richard Parr, MBE

MANAGING DIRECTOR, EUROPE

Richard Parr, MBE, leads GFI Europe, advancing smart protein development in dozens of the world’s most advanced economies.

Areas of expertise: the European Union (EU), the UK, food policy, policy analysis, nonprofits.

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Mirte Gosker

ACTING MANAGING DIRECTOR, ASIA PACIFIC

Mirte Gosker leads GFI Asia Pacific as Acting MD, 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.

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Erin Rees Clayton, Ph.D.

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Erin Rees Clayton, Ph.D. oversees our plant-based protein, cultivated meat, and fermentation research funding efforts.

Areas of expertise: scientific research, plant-based meat, grant writing, research project management.

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Elizabeth Derbes, J.D., MPH

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF REGULATORY AFFAIRS

Elizabeth Derbes oversees our U.S. regulatory strategy and coordinates with our affiliates regarding alternative protein regulation outside the United States.

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

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Michael Ryan

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF POLICY

Michael Ryan manages GFI’s legislative initiatives and executive branch funding advocacy.

Areas of expertise: Congress, appropriations, legislative procedure, legislative strategy.

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Marika Azoff

CORPORATE ENGAGEMENT SEAFOOD SPECIALIST

Marika leads GFI’s Sustainable Seafood Initiative work with startups, investors, conventional seafood companies and other key players in order to increase investment in and production and sale of alternative seafood products.

Areas of expertise: conservation, marine ecosystems, nonprofits, strategic partnerships.

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Matt Ball

SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST

Matt Ball works across the organization as a communications generalist.

Areas of expertise: writing, editing, environmentalism, animal advocacy, philosophy, planes, public speaking.

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Gabriel Wildgen

SENIOR LEGISLATIVE SPECIALIST

Gabriel Wildgen represents GFI on Capitol Hill as the organization’s federal lobbyist.

Areas of expertise: Legislation, food law and policy, environmental protection, nonprofits, and strategic partnerships.

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Claire Bomkamp, Ph.D.

SENIOR SCIENTIST — CULTIVATED SEAFOOD SPECIALIZATION

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, science communication, fish puns.

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Laura Braden, J.D.

REGULATORY COUNSEL

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.

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Blake Byrne

BUSINESS INNOVATION SPECIALIST

Blake Byrne analyzes macro-level implications of scaling alt protein technologies. He also advises investors, corporations, and founders on entry points into the industry.

Areas of expertise: techno-economics, forecasts, white space advisory.

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Austin Clowes

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH FUNDING COORDINATOR

Austin Clowes oversees GFI’s Research Grant Program, working to increase the amount of open-access research on plant-based and cultivated meat.

Areas of expertise: grants, scientific research, technological assessment.

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James Dale, Ph.D.

RESEARCH FUNDING COORDINATOR

James Dale identifies and expands scientific research funding opportunities for alt proteins. He also coordinates opportunities with GFI’s allies in academia and industry.

Areas of expertise: nanomaterials, interdepartmental research, research funding, grants.

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Kyle Gaan

RESEARCH ANALYST

Kyle Gaan analyzes data and market research to identify meaningful insights and trends within the plant-based food industry.

Areas of expertise: consulting, market and consumer research, data analysis, video production.

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Emily Hennessee

POLICY ASSOCIATE

Emily Hennessee works on legislative and regulatory efforts related to alternative proteins and represents GFI as Innovation Lead for Action Track #2 of the United Nations Food Systems Summit.

Areas of expertise: public health, food systems, sustainability, nonprofits.

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Amy Huang

UNIVERSITY INNOVATION MANAGER

Amy Huang helps lead GFI’s efforts to transform universities into engines of alternative protein research and education.

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

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Emma Ignaszewski

CORPORATE ENGAGEMENT PROJECT MANAGER

Emma Ignaszewski manages projects 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: retail, strategy, marketing, communications.

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Maia Keerie

MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Maia Keerie oversees GFI’s media relations and thought leadership campaigns and works with leading U.S. and international news outlets to elevate alternative proteins within the media.

Areas of expertise: strategic communications, media management, journalism.

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Jen Lamy

SUSTAINABLE SEAFOOD INITIATIVE MANAGER

Jen Lamy manages GFI’s cross-programmatic Sustainable Seafood Initiative to ensure that it proceeds strategically and with the input and involvement of key stakeholders.

Areas of expertise: alternative seafood, environmental policy, sustainable food systems, and strategic planning.

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Nicole Manu, J.D.

GFI ALUM

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Elliot Swartz, Ph.D.

SENIOR SCIENTIST

Elliot Swartz analyzes scientific progress and bottlenecks in cultivated meat.

Areas of expertise: stem cell biology, neuroscience, cultivated meat.

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Scott Weathers, MSc.

SENIOR POLICY SPECIALIST

Scott Weathers leads GFI’s state-level lobbying efforts.

Areas of expertise: public health, climate change, strategic partnerships, nonprofits, state legislatures.

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Zak Weston

FOODSERVICE AND SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGER

Zak Weston works with manufacturers, suppliers, and upstream companies to scale innovation and infrastructure investment throughout the alternative protein supply chain.

Areas of expertise: supply chains, infrastructure, ingredients, foodservice, and contract manufacturing.

Explore our focus areas

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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.

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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.