Meet our Experts

Board of Directors

Biology Fortified, Inc. (BFI) is managed by a Board of Directors, serving 2 year terms with no term limits. The Directors are elected during BFI’s annual meeting, and are not compensated for their role in determining the course of the organization.

Karl Haro von Mogel (2012 to present) is a geneticist with a PhD in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from UW-Madison with a minor in Life Sciences Communication. He works as a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California, Riverside conducting genome editing experiments with Citrus. Karl serves as BFI’s Director of Science and Media and as Executive Editor of the Biofortified Blog, and has given many presentations about plant biotechnology and science communication.
Alma Laney (2018 to present) specializes in plant viruses that are transmitted by arthropods (also known as arboviruses) that infect various plants including roses, figs, soybeans and wheat. He has a masters degree in plant pathology and a PhD in plant science from the University of Arkansas. Alma Laney is an Assistant Professor in the Biology department at Utah Valley University, and blogs as The Mad Virologist, teaching people about virology, plant pathology and plant science.

Guest Experts

The Biofortified Blog is written by a team of editors, regular contributors, and guest experts. If you would like to contribute to the Biofortified Blog through writing, editing, design, photography, or other means, contact us.

The strength of the discussions on Biofortified depend on the diversity of expertise, perspectives, and backgrounds of our contributors. Guest contributors are invited to participate in the global conversation about food and agriculture, and are not paid for their work.

The guest experts below are listed in approximately reverse order of appearance on the Biofortified Blog. These bios are necessarily brief, but their accomplishments and contributions to society are numerous. Bios were updated in December 2018. 

Note that board members and guest experts do not necessarily speak for their employers or other organizations in which they do or do not take part. 

Alison Bernstein is a neuroscientist who studies Parkinson’s disease, epigenetics and neurotoxicology. Her PhD is in Biology and Biomedical Sciences from Washington University. She did two postdoctoral fellowships at Emory University, receiving additional training in neurotoxicology, neuroscience and epigenetics. Alison is now an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University.
Inti Orozco is an artist and science enthusiast, regularly geeking out on space, agriculture and biotechnology.
Brittany Anderton seeks to improve the intersection of science and society by educating the next generation of responsible scientists and citizens. She has a PhD in cancer biology, studied the teaching and communication of biotechnology as a postdoctoral fellow at UC Davis, and is now the Associate Director of Research Talks at iBiology and Lecturer at CSU Sacramento.
Liv Langberg is a social worker and cognitive therapist. She has studied biology and has a diploma in agronomy. Back in the day, she tried her hand at organic agriculture, so she knows a thing or two about cow dung.
Øystein Heggdal is a Norwegian agronomist. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and natural resources. He is currently working as an journalist for a Norwegian farming magazine.
Jenny Splitter is a writer based in Washington, D.C. She covers science, food, and health for outlets like Forbes, The Washington Post, Slate, New York Magazine, Parents, and Mental Floss, and serves as Story Director for the immersive experience company TBD Immersive.
Arya Mitra Sharma is Professor of Medicine and currently holds the Alberta Health Services Chair in Obesity Research and Management at the University of Alberta. He is also the Medical Director of the Alberta Health Services Obesity Program.
Chris MacDonald is an educator, speaker, and consultant in the realm of business ethics. He teaches at the Ted Rogers School of Management, at Ryerson University in Toronto, where he is Director of the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre.
Iida Ruishalme is a writer and a science communicator who holds a MSc in Biology from Sweden. She thinks nature is pretty awesome, and that it only gets more awesome the more you learn about it. She writes at Thoughtscapism.
Andrew Kniss is an Associate Professor of Weed Ecology & Management at the University of Wyoming. He has a PhD in Agronomy with a minor in Statistics. He teaches undergraduate & graduate courses including Ecology of Plant Protection and Weed Science & Technology. His research focuses on developing sustainable weed management programs in agronomic crops.
Michael Dzakovich is a PhD candidate and USDA National Needs Research Fellow at Ohio State University. He uses genomic and metabolomic tools to understand how genetic diversity influences potentially health-promoting compounds in tomatoes. He also uses animal model studies to determine how tomato consumption affects gene expression in tissues where tomato phytochemicals are deposited and metabolized.
Robin Bisson is a Senior Press Officer at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College of London. He previously ran the Genetic Expert News Service, a DC-based nonprofit providing media access to scientific expertise on genetics and biotechnology news.
Daniel Norero serves as a consultant in scientific communication and writes a column in the Chilean “El Definido.” He studied biochemistry at the Catholic University of Chile and worked as a laboratory assistant in plant sciences. Currently, he is studying digital marketing and social media management. He founded “Yo Quiero transgénicos”, a citizen project to inform about GMOs, and is a Cornell Alliance for Science Fellow.
Don Gibson is a PhD student at UC, Davis. He’s a molecular biologist with specialization in plant science and experience in biotechnology startups and political organizing. Don is currently studying fundamental aspects of root development using Arabidopsis and tomato as model organisms.
Kendal Hirschi works at the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and is Associate Director of Research at the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center at Texas A&M. His research program centers on many biomedical issues and has published papers using bacteria, yeast, crops, zebrafish, mice, and human subjects. His research goal is to increase the nutritional content of crops, in collaboration with clinical faculty at Baylor College of Medicine. His long-term goal is to bridge the chasm between plant biology and nutritional sciences.
Nir Oksenberg is a professional science communicator for the Delta Stewardship Council, a California state agency. He fosters productive communication among scientists, the public, water managers, and policymakers. He has a PhD in human genetics from the University of California, San Francisco and was a postdoctoral fellow at UC Davis studying the rice response to bacteria, flooding, and drought in Pamela Ronald’s lab.
Nikolai Braun is an experienced synthetic biologist, scientific group leader, and biotech product developer. He has a PhD in biophysics from UC, Davis. He is interested in networking, business opportunities, and fun new ways to make the world a better place. Nikolai co-founded Revolution Bioengineering, the beautiful biotechnology company, and now is the leader of the micro- and molecular biology programs at Luna Innovations.
Kavin Senapathy is the co-founder of international pro-science, pro-biotech movement March Against Myths, and co-author of The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House, a book discussing popular food misconceptions and why they proliferate in the face of mountains of evidence against them. She has a passion for refuting myths popular in the wild internet west, with topics including genomics, health, food, and biotechnology. A regular contributor to Forbes, SELF Magazine, and Grounded Parents, Kavin’s work has also appeared in Slate and other outlets.
Jeff Fountain left his career in the California wine industry to study biotechnology full-time as a student at CCSF’s Bridge to Biosciences internship program. His love of science is only matched by his dislike of pseudoscience, which led him to create Food Hunk, a popular Facebook page that parodies the anti-GMO ‘pure food’ movement.
Stephanie Gorski has a PhD in entomology from North Carolina State University. She has a strong interest in environmental sustainability and conducted research on Western corn rootworm and transgenic Bt crops. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Wiley College.
Mike Bonds is a green technology advisor for a local environmental & pest management firm based in NYC. He enjoys finding alternative approaches to traditional methodologies and also has a big respect for ants.
Layla Katiraee is a human molecular geneticist working as a development scientist in DNA sequencing. She has a PhD in human molecular genetics from the University of Toronto, and is currently studying applied bioinformatics at Penn State.
Marc Brazeau is the Chief Organizer and Editor at Food and Farm Discussion Lab, a food system think tank for people within the agriculture industry to share evidence-based solutions. With experience as a chef and restaurant owner as well as organizing unions in the agriculture space, he brings a unique perspective to the food-to-table movement.
Harold Keyser, Ph.D. is a retired soil microbiologist, volunteering with Cooperative Extension on Maui to provide education on soil fertility, nitrogen fixation in legumes, and agricultural biotechnology when not volunteering at his son’s nursery. He received degrees in plant science, ecology and soil science from UC Davis, and was a researcher and educator with USDA ARS and the University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.
Robert Sacerich has had a diverse career across multiple industries. He is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy of Science and Bioethics.
James Cooper has a PhD in organic chemistry from Ohio State University and worked for years at IBM Research, mostly in computer science. He is now a full time writer, writing articles for on food and food science, and working on several books.
Ariela Haro von Mogel is a Registered Dietitian. She holds degrees from the University of California-Davis in Sociology and Music and the University of Madison-Wisconsin in Nutrition Science. Ariela is particularly interested in Latino health, cultural competence, and nutrition education.
Andrew McGuire has been with Washington State University Extension since 1999. He works with farmers to implement solutions to irrigated farming challenges in the Columbia Basin. He is currently evaluating soil health measurements and developing high-frequency green manure rotations for soilborne disease control. He thinks, then writes about agriculture at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Alexander Huszagh is a C++/Python developer with a Masters in cellular and molecular biosciences from UC, Irvine. He applies computational biology and mass spectrometry to the study of protein machines.
Sujatha Venkataramani is a Plant Biologist with extensive training in Molecular and Cell Biology, Genetics and Physiology. Her PhD in biology is from Texas Tech University. Sujatha is originally from India and has lived in the United States since 2000. She sincerely hopes that we as the plant community are able to find ways to feed every single mouth on this planet.
Rob Wallbridge is an organic farmer in Western Quebec, Canada. He is also a father, extensionist, writer, speaker, and rabble-rouser. He advocates for high-quality organic food and informed communities in agriculture and beyond.
Becca Harrison is currently pursuing her PhD in science & technology studies at Cornell University. She is particularly interested in how consumers view, communicate, and respond to technology used in food agriculture, and how such study can be used to influence effective policy, increasing accessibility of such food domestically and internationally.
Caroline Coatney is a plant breeder with experience in science communication and science policy. She has a Masters degree in plant biology from the University of Georgia.
Marco Rosaire Conrad-Rossi is a part-time writer and activist living Olympia, WA. He studied political science at the University of Illinois-Chicago and human rights at the University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica. He has published in the Humanist Magazine, Z Magazine, and on many blogs.
Patrick Cournoyer has a PhD in molecular and cell biology from Yale. His doctoral research investigated the molecular underpinnings of the plant immune system. During that time, he co-directed the “Biotechnology in Agriculture” seminar series with the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics. He now works to ensure the safety of food from genetically engineered plants at the US Food and Drug Administration.
Carolyn Olson raises organic corn, soybeans, field peas and small grains with her husband and their three daughters on 1,100 acres near Cottonwood, Minnesota. They also finish about 7,000 conventional hogs annually. Their farm will be recognized as a century farm this year. Carolyn is an active member of her community, serving on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Organic Advisory Task Force, as co-chair of the Minnesota Farm Bureau Pork Chop booth at FarmFest, and much more. Carolyn blogs at Carolyn Cares and tweets as @Westacre2CJ.
Arpita Bhattacharjya ‏studies and writes about food: from school lunch to global hunger, biotechnology to cooking dinner at home, she am curious about everything. In an earlier life she was an economist, now a Mom and food policy issues advocate. She tweets as @greenfork. Her blog, Thought + Food is a thoughtful look at the journey of food from the fields and oceans to the fork.
Mike Haley is a row crop farmer and cattle rancher. His farm in Ohio has been in the family since 1907. Mike tweets as @farmerhaley and blogs at Haley Farms.
John Bowman uses genetics to understand plant diversity – within species, between species, between life stages, and across evolutionary time. His research is curiosity-driven, focusing on fundamental questions about plants, such as what did the common ancestor of all land plants look like and how did it evolve to produce all the land plants we have today? He was raised in Montana, but lives in Melbourne because it’s like San Francisco but without handguns.
Adam Merberg has a PhD in Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley, with a dissertation on noncommutative probability theory and operator algebras. He sometimes reads, thinks, and writes about food and agriculture issues when he’s not busy with his work.
Jonas Kathage is an agricultural economist with a focus on quantitative empirical research. Since 2013, he has been working at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Seville. His PhD in agricultural economics is from the University of Göttingen. Jonas is an expert on the socio-economics of genetically modified crops. He has also worked on plant protection, climate change mitigation, and other topics.
Brian Scott farms with his father and grandfather on 2,300 acres of land in northwest Indiana. They grow corn, soybeans, popcorn, and wheat. Brian blogs at The Farmer’s Life.
Drew L. Kershen is the Earl Sneed Centennial Professor of Law Emeritus, at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He taught agricultural law and water law for 30+ years and retired in 2012. Beginning in 1997, he focused his writing and speaking on legal issues related to agricultural biotechnology.
Charis Cook has a PhD in Biological Sciences from Royal Holloway, University of London. She has used her scientific expertise in a variety of science communication roles, including as Senior Business Interaction Manager at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Communication Officer for GARNet, a network to support UK plant scientists.
Cami Ryan
Rachael Ludwick lives in Seattle, Washington and works as a software developer, making an awesome product with lasers! She has interests in the sciences (agriculture, phylogeny, genetics), history, music, politics, and more.
Rebecca Nesbit is author of the popular science book ‘Is that Fish in your Tomato?’ which explores the fact and fiction of GM foods. She studied butterfly migration for her PhD, then worked for a start-up company training honeybees to detect explosives. She now works in science communication and her projects have ranged from a citizen science flying ant survey to visiting universities around the world with Nobel Laureates. In her spare time she writes fiction – she has published a novel, and many short stories.
Sophien is a senior scientist and Head of The Sainsbury Laboratory. He received his B.S. degree from Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, France, and his Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of California, Davis, USA. He held a faculty position at Ohio State University, USA, in the Department of Plant Pathology, Wooster campus, before joining The Sainsbury Laboratory in 2007. His recent research focuses on plant pathogenomics, filamentous pathogen effector biology and devising new approaches to breeding disease-resistant crops. Follow him on twitter @KamounLab
Eric has worked in ag biotech (Ciba-Geigy, Novartis, Cropsolution) since his PhD at Washington University in St. Louis. He is President of Two Blades Foundation and in that capacity is responsible for a research group at The Sainsbury Laboratory. His group focuses on identifying novel resistances to major crop diseases.
Depending on his mood, Luis Apiolaza is a forester, a quantitative forester, a quantitative geneticist or if he wants to sound suave and trendy – a statistical geneticist. Luis works at the School of Forestry, University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand (the land of the long white cloud, the Lord of the Rings and R). He blogs about statistics and science at Quantum Forest.
Calestous Juma is Professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard Kennedy School and author of The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa (Oxford University Press, 2011).
Emily Willingham has a bachelor’s degree in English and a PhD in biological sciences, both from The University of Texas at Austin, with a completed postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. She blogs at The Biology Files about how science and writing about science take shape around the audience known as You. She is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to College Biology and currently working on a book about lice. Yep, “lice.” She bets you’re about to scratch your head right now.
Lúcia de Souza has a PhD in plant biochemistry from the University of Basle in Switzerland. She has extensive experience in teaching and is actively involved in biosafety, public research, and regulation initiatives. Lúcia is an ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications) associate.
Steve Savage has worked with various aspects of agricultural technology for more than 35 years. He has a PhD in plant pathology and his varied career included Colorado State University, DuPont, and the bio-control start-up, Mycogen. He is an independent consultant working with a wide variety of clients on topics including biological control, biotechnology, crop protection chemicals, and more. Steve writes and speaks on food and agriculture topics (Applied Mythology blog) and does a bi-weekly podcast called POPAgriculture for the CropLife Foundation.
Bill Price has a PhD in plant science. He has worked in agricultural research for nearly 40 years and is currently a statistician in the College of Agriculture at the University of Idaho. His work includes diverse topics including but not limited to dairy science, human nutrition, weed science, and benthic microbiology.
Colby Vorland is a PhD student in nutritional science at Purdue University. He is studying the regulation of intestinal phosphorus absorption in health and chronic kidney disease. Colby has a background in dietetics and has previously worked in lipid metabolism in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
kevin-folta Kevin Folta has studied biology and agricultural biotechnology for over thirty years. He has a PhD in molecular biology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research examines the role of light in controlling plant traits, especially those relevant to agriculture. His group is known for using innovative genomics approaches to identify genes associated with fruit quality, especially flavors and aromas.
Jack Lundee is a follower of all things green and progressive. With a degree in creative writing, and a strong involvement in the green blogosphere, Jack has been producing and editing his own content concerning things like climate change, carbon emissions, green infrastructure, green space, and eco-consciousness.
Matt DiLeo has a PhD in Plant Pathology from UC, Davis. During his postdoctoral research at Boyce Thompson Institute, he researched unintentional effects of genetic engineering. Matt builds R&D teams and biotech platforms: genome editing, gene discovery, microbials, and controlled environment agriculture.
Clark Wolf is the Director of Bioethics and a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Iowa State University. He is a faculty member in the Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture and has a cortursey appointment in the Department of Political Science. He teaches and co-teaches a variety of courses, including Foundations of Sustainable Agriculture, Environmental Ethics, and Bioethics and Biotechnology. Clark gives and organizes thought-provoking talks to diverse audiences at Iowa State, including talks on biotechnology and intellectual property.
Sarah Bione-Dunn is a psychologist who conducts both clinical work and research.
James Schnable is an assistant professor and the co-founder of two start ups. His academic lab works on comparative and functional genomics as well as high throughput phenotyping of maize, sorghum, and related orphan grain crops and wild grass species. He’s interested in plants, farming, and saving the world through agriculture, the usual. James blogs at James and the Giant Corn.
Brandon Hunnicutt farms in South Central Nebraska with his dad, brother, and cousin. They raise corn, soybeans and popcorn. All their corn and soybeans contain some aspect of biotechnology in them, except for the popcorn. Brandon has been involved with defending biotechnology and promoting throughout the years and currently serves as President of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association.
Mary Mangan has a PhD in cell, molecular, and developmental biology from the University of Rochester. She co-founded OpenHelix, a company that provides awareness and training on open source genomics software tools. She has published numerous articles on biology, biotechnology, biometrics, and genomics.
Joe Ballenger is an agricultural scientist studying weed control at the University of Wyoming. He has a Masters degree in Entomology. After starting as an author with the Biofortified Blog, Joe went on to found the successful Ask an Entomologist project!
Rob Hebert is a second-year student at Georgetown Law. Before moving to DC, he lived in Brooklyn, NY.
Cody Cobb is a brand new doctor, recovering plant biologist, and photography enthusiast. He received his MD at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. Prior to medical school, he studied plant biology and plant pathology at Rutgers University.
Melinda Yerka
Raoul Adamchak is co-author of Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food”. He has grown organic crops for twenty years. He has served as a member and president of California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and Board of Directors and inspected over one hundred organic farms for CCOF. He now works at the UC, Davis Student Farm, where he teaches organic production practices and manages a five-acre market garden.
Pamela Ronald is Professor of Plant Pathology and Chair of the Plant Genomics Program at the University of California, Davis, where she studies the role that genes play in a plant’s response to its environment. With her husband, she co-wrote Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food. Dr. Ronald was one of the co-founders of Biology Fortified.
Anastasia Bodnar is a science communicator and science policy expert with a PhD in plant genetics and sustainable agriculture from Iowa State University. Anastasia has had various risk analysis roles in US government and military service. She was one of the co-founders of Biology Fortified and previously served as BFI’s Policy Director. Anastasia’s writing with BFI is conducted in her personal capacity, and the views expressed do not represent the views of the USDA.
Frank N. Foode™ is your friendly neighborhood genetically modified organism. Check him out on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook! You can also take Frank home with you – visit our Plant Plushies page to learn more!