GFI Scientists Open Their Doors for Office Hours
GFI’s Science and Technology team regularly interfaces with experts from a broad ecosystem of scientific disciplines to share information and accelerate the development of plant-based and clean meat. This regularly brings our team into contact with brilliant minds not only in food, but in adjacent industries such as regenerative medicine, plant biology, and tissue engineering. 

To facilitate more streamlined information sharing, our team of scientists is clearing an hour each month to create a dedicated forum for discussion and to take questions from the scientific community. The GFI SciTech Team has also created a slack channel to keep the conversation going beyond the office hours session.
Who: GFI’s SciTech Department
What: A one hour, invite-only video meeting
When: Second Wednesday of the month, 12pm EST
How: Qualified scientists can apply to join office hours sessions. 
Meet GFI's SciTech Team
David Welch, Ph.D., Director of Science and Technology
David holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of California at Berkeley and a Ph.D. in plant developmental cell biology from Utrecht University. He has more than fifteen years' experience in the life science industry, including the product development, market development and commercialization of cells, scaffolds, cell reprogramming tools and cell culture media for regenerative medicine and bioprocessing applications. At GFI, David combines his background in plant biology and regenerative medicine to help companies and academic research institutions accelerate the development of plant-based and clean meat alternatives to animal products.

Liz Specht, Ph.D., Senior Scientist
Liz holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Johns Hopkins University, a doctorate in biological sciences from the University of California, San Diego, and postdoctoral research experience from the University of Colorado Boulder. Liz is a Fellow with the University of Colorado at Boulder Sustainability Innovation Lab. She has a decade of academic research experience in synthetic biology, recombinant protein expression, and development of genetic engineering tools. Liz works to identify and address areas of need for plant-based and clean meat innovation and encourages funding agencies to prioritize research that moves this field forward.

Erin Rees Clayton, Ph.D., Senior Scientist
Erin earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from DePauw University before going on to obtain a Master’s in Public Health in epidemiology from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in genetics from Duke University. She has ten years of research experience focused on a variety of topics, including molecular biology, nutrition, poverty, and social disparity. Erin seeks out funding opportunities for plant-based and clean agriculture research, and she is also working to establish a dedicated plant-based and clean food lab at a top research university in the United States. 

Tom Ben-Arye, Ph.D., Senior Scientist
Tom completed his Ph.D. in bovine skeletal muscle tissue engineering at Technion, Israel's Institute of Technology, with the specific intent of making an impact in the clean meat industry. In addition to his long history of animal rights activism, Tom is the co-founder of The Modern Agriculture Foundation and serves as their scientific advisor. During his graduate studies, Tom took part in the foundation of Aleph Farms and helped the company develop its core scientific knowledge.

MJ Kinney, Food Scientist
MJ applies her background in plant protein and food science R&D, technical sales, and project management in B2B and B2C industry settings to help companies and academic research groups identify barriers and solutions during plant and cell-based meat, egg, and dairy product development. MJ holds a bachelor’s degree in food science and human nutrition from the University of Florida.

Allison Berke, Ph.D., Academic Research Advisor
Allison Berke received her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from UC Berkeley, B.S. degrees in math and biology from MIT, and previously worked in biomedical- and security-focused consulting with McKinsey & Co. She has experience managing research, education, and outreach activities as the Executive Director of the Stanford Cyber Initiative and teaches CS181 at Stanford (Computers, Ethics, and Public Policy). At GFI, Allison advises academic research and education initiatives related to clean meat and plant-based meat alternatives.

Elliot Swartz, Ph.D., Academic Research Advisor
Elliot holds a bachelor's degree in behavioral neuroscience from Lehigh University and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA. He has experience utilizing induced pluripotent stem cells for modeling neuromuscular disease as well as consulting with Verge Genomics in drug discovery for neurodegenerative disease. Elliot's work at GFI leverages these skills to educate the public, assist start-ups in clean meat development, increase the activity of clean meat and plant-based meat research, and expand awareness of the career opportunities in these fields.

Our doors are open. We hope you stop by! 

For background on GFI’s work, check out our team’s reviews of the clean meatplant-based meat, and cellular agriculture industries.  

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