SAN DIEGO and KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii, Oct. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Cellana, a leading developer of algae-based feedstocks for biofuels, animal feed/food and Omega-3 nutritional oils, announced today that Valerie Harmon has been appointed as Cellana's senior director of Research and Development (Kona), Xuemei Bai, Ph.D., has been promoted to senior director of Research and Development (San Diego) and Selena Ellis-Vizcarra has been promoted to senior director of Corporate Development.
Harmon has over 25 years of experience in industrial-scale and commercial-scale algae production and will assume primary responsibility for the large-scale production of algae biomass in Cellana's Kona Demonstration Facility. Prior to joining Cellana, she most recently served as director of Cultivation, Environment and Safety Systems with Aurora Algae. Before Aurora, Harmon served in multiple roles with Cyanotech Corporation, a world leader in the commercial production of algae-based astaxanthin and spirulina for nutraceutical applications, including as director of Cultivation and director of Business Development and Animal Feeds and technical sales manager. She is a co-author on numerous toxicology, oyster aquaculture and algae-related publications. Harmon has a B.S. in biology from Davidson College and a master's degree in agriculture, aquaculture and business strategy from Oregon State University.
"We are excited to welcome Valerie to the Cellana family. Valerie brings significant expertise and knowledge in algae development and production," said Michael J. Kamdar, Cellana's president. "We look forward to Valerie leading our research and development efforts at our Kona Demonstration Facility as we continue to grow our organization towards commercial production."
Since 2008, Dr. Bai has served as a key member of Cellana's R&D department with increasing levels of responsibility and is Cellana's principal investigator for multiple grant programs funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and/or Department of Agriculture (USDA). She currently leads Cellana's efforts in algal strain development for ReNew™ Omega-3, ReNew™ Fuel and ReNew™ Feed products in both of Cellana's ALDUO™ mid-scale screening and cultivation system as well as the ALDUO™ large-scale cultivation system at the Kona Demonstration Facility. In addition to her focus on upstream algal cultivation technology for bioproducts development, Dr. Bai also works with downstream partners on algae biomass processing, including lipid extraction, purification of Omega-3s and biofuels refining. Dr. Bai has a B.S. in fisheries from Dalian Fisheries University in Dalian, China, a master's degree in aquatic biology from Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan, China and a Ph.D. in marine science from the University of Southern Mississippi, Stennis Space Center, where her Ph.D. research was focused on photosynthetic carbon flux direction (i.e., oils, sugars and proteins) under different environmental regimes and separation techniques for photosynthetic end products of algae.
"Xuemei has done an outstanding job of leading our research and development team," said Kamdar. "As part of her promotion, Xuemei will relocate to San Diego as the first step in establishing a research and development capability in Southern California and exploring a potential Cellana commercial facility on the mainland U.S. This is a very significant step in Cellana's development."
Ellis-Vizcarra has served as a key member of Cellana's Corporate Development department since 2011. Under her leadership, Cellana has obtained, negotiated and executed more than four multi-million-dollar federally funded programs during her tenure at Cellana, amounting to over $5 million in revenue for Cellana. Prior to joining Cellana, Ellis-Vizcarra was with Verenium (formerly Diversa) Corporation, holding a variety of increasingly responsible positions in the business development, finance/accounting, intellectual property and corporate development departments, with her final position being contracts manager. Ellis-Vizcarra has been in the biotechnology sector as a project manager often for government-funded projects and for cross-functional teams for over 20 years, with responsibility for over $150 million in cumulative funding. Ellis-Vizcarra has a B.A. in economics and a master of business administration, both from San Diego State University.
"Selena has done an outstanding job of obtaining and managing our federal programs from a corporate and administrative perspective and has been a key team member on our current Series A corporate financing round," said Martin A. Sabarsky, Cellana's chief executive officer. "She has provided excellent leadership with our internal and external grant coordinators and has been an invaluable interface between departments within Cellana as well as with external partners."
Cellana, a leading developer of algae-based bioproducts, uses the most productive plants on earth — marine microalgae — to photosynthetically produce its ReNew™ line of Omega-3 EPA and DHA oils, animal feed/food, and biofuel feedstocks. Cellana's patented ALDUO™ system enables economic, sustainable and consistent production of photosynthetic, non-GMO algae at industrial scale. Cellana intends to construct and operate commercial facilities to produce these products as integrated algae-based biorefineries. To date, over $100 million has been invested in developing Cellana's algae strains, patented and proprietary production technologies, and its Kona Demonstration Facility. Further information is available at: www.cellana.com.
Cellana®, the Cellana logo, ALDUO, ReNew, and other trademarks or service names are trademarks of Cellana, Inc.