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

FOUNDER & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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.

Ilya sheyman

Ilya Sheyman

PRESIDENT

Ilya leads all aspects of GFI-U.S.’s programmatic and administrative operations, 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.

VICE PRESIDENT, 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.

Liz specht, ph. D.

Liz Specht, Ph.D.

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

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

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.

Varun deshpande

Varun Deshpande

MANAGING DIRECTOR, ASIA

Varun leads the GFI network of organizations across Asia – a hugely important region for the global protein transition.

Areas of expertise: Asia, Global South, international development, industry building, business strategy and strategic planning, and public speaking

Nir goldstein

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.

Gus guadagnini

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.

Richard parr, mbe

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.

Mirte gosker

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.

Erin rees clayton, ph. D.

Erin Rees Clayton, Ph.D.

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ADVISOR

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.

Christina aguila

Christina Aguila

UNIVERSITY INNOVATION SPECIALIST

Christina works with GFI’s university innovation team to build the alternative protein workforce needed to reimagine our protein supply.

Areas of expertise: university programs, curriculum development, academic support, chemical engineering

Marika azoff

Marika Azoff

CORPORATE ENGAGEMENT SPECIALIST

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

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 headshot

Laura Braden, J.D.

LEAD 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.

Laura clark

Laine Clark

INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP MANAGER

Laine serves as an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Manager, helping to position GFI as a valuable resource for emerging companies in the alternative proteins sector as they launch and scale.

Areas of Expertise: entrepreneurship, strategic planning, team building, market validation, mentorship

Carolyn englar

Carolyn Englar

SENIOR MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST

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

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

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.

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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.

Maia keerie

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.

Priera panescu headshot

Priera Panescu, Ph.D.

SENIOR SCIENTIST – PLANT-BASED SPECIALIST

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

Elliot headshot

Elliot Swartz, Ph.D.

LEAD SCIENTIST, CULTIVATED MEAT

Elliot Swartz analyzes scientific progress and bottlenecks in cultivated meat.

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

Zak weston

Zak Weston

MOONSHOT INITIATIVE MANAGER

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.