Business Briefs

By Erin Voegele | April 14, 2016

Warren Preston has been selected to serve as USDA deputy chief economist. He has served as senior economist for agricultural policy in the Office of the Chief Economist since August 2015, after serving as USDA’s acting deputy chief economist beginning in February 2015. He joined USDA in 1992. In his new role, Preston will advise the chief economist, the secretary and top policy officials regarding the economic implications of programs, regulations and legislative proposals affecting the U.S. food and fiber system and rural areas. He supports USDA policy decision making by evaluating policy options on complex domestic and global agricultural issues and serves as the backup to the chief economist. 
ACE Group has launched ACE Renewable Energy Environmental Protection, the first dedicated environmental policy for companies in the renewable energy industry in the U.K. and Ireland, as ACE continues to invest in its environmental risk capabilities. ACE Renewable Energy Environmental Protection covers the full spectrum of environmental risks faced by renewable energy companies, providing seamless coverage. It is available to energy producers in every renewable sector, including solar, onshore and offshore wind, tidal, hydro, waste-to-energy, biofuel and landfill gas extraction. 

The Department of Energy’s Joint Bioenergy Institute has announced Aindrila Mukhopadhyay will step into the role of vice president of the Fuels Synthesis Division. Mukhopadhyay, who joined the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2003, will continue to serve as director of JBEI’s Host Engineering group and as interim division director of LBNL’s Biological Systems and Engineering in the Biosciences Area. She leads a team responsible for the study of signaling and stress response in both environmental and engineered organisms. Her research focus at JBEI is the development of robust microbial strains that show high tolerance and productivity during biofuels and chemicals production. Her team has conducted many discovery, strain engineering and systems biology studies to explore the causes of growth inhibition and low productivity, and has developed strategies to improve these phenotypes. With her team, she has published numerous research papers and holds patents on the use and optimization of cellular transport system to improve tolerance to final products as well as improve intake of carbon sources. Taek Soon Lee has been named deputy vice president of the Fuels Synthesis Division, a position previously held by Mukhopadhyay. Lee joined Jay Keasling’s group at UC Berkeley and LBNL as a postdoctoral researcher in 2006, and since 2008 Lee has served as director of metabolic engineering in the Fuels Synthesis Division at JBEI. His research group focuses on the identification of potential drop-in biofuels and building and optimizing the metabolic pathways to produce these target fuels in microbes.

Novozymes has announced the formation of three divisions: Household Care and Technical Industries, Agriculture and Bioenergy, and Food and Beverages. The organizational change aims to enhance the company’s ability to deliver more innovation to customers with more speed and commercial impact. Each division will be led by a newly named executive vice president. They are: Agriculture and Bioenergy, Tina Sejersgård Fanø, formerly vice president of sales; Household Care and Technical Industries, Anders Lund, formerly vice president of sales; and Food and Beverages, Andrew Fordyce, formerly vice president of Business Operations.
     The divisions will be supported by one central Research, Innovation and Supply organization led by Thomas Videbæk, chief operating officer and executive vice president. Benny D. Loft, chief financial officer and executive vice president, is head of Corporate Functions, and Peder Holk Nielsen will continue as CEO and president.

Deinove recently announced it has received 10 new patent grant agreements. Patent family PF7: “Bacteria and uses thereof”  received an initial agreement for issuance by the U.S. Patent Office. The patent protects the production of compounds such as ethanol, proteins, enzymes or drugs from Deinococcus bacteria. The company has also obtained new grant agreements for five families of patents already issued in other geographical areas. The Deinove patent portfolio now includes 19 patent families protecting its technology platforms, development of selection methods for a wide variety of Deinococcus and related bacteria, their use in the production processes of various biobased products of interest, and their industrial applications. 

Trevor Morgan has joined the Phibro Ethanol Performance Group as a technical sales representative, bringing 20 years of experience in operations, production management, technical sales, new technology development and engineering to the position. The addition of Morgan continues Phibro EPG’s commitment to invest in the highest quality team in order to deliver technically sound support to help customers increase profits.    

Auto industry veteran Tracey King has joined the Renewable Fuels Association as the organization’s new technical director. King will serve as the RFA’s top liaison to the automakers, and will focus on forging the path to future high-octane fuels and optimized spark-ignition engines. King spent 17 years with Chrysler, where she primarily focused on technical issues surrounding fuels and lubricants. Previously, she worked in research and development at both Nissan and General Motors. Most recently, King worked for Haltermann Solutions, a manufacturer of test and reference fuels. She also has extensive experience with ASTM and other standards-developing organizations.
Biofuel consultant Bernie Hoffman has joined K·Coe Isom, an agriculture  and biofuels accounting and consulting firm. Hoffman is a petroleum engineer with a depth of knowledge in biofuels technologies, upgrades and expansions, product diversification, carbon intensity issues, profitability enhancement, or even exit. He has three decades of experience in the ethanol and biomass-based diesel industries and has held numerous leadership positions, including his most recent role as vice president of WB Services. In addition to working with the K·Coe Isom team in the areas above, Hoffman will head the business development effort and consult with plants on mergers and acquisition opportunities, feasibility evaluations, and sustainability efforts. His work complements K·Coe Isom’s sustainability-related service offerings that significantly expanded with the firm’s acquisition in 2013 of Vela Environmental.

Biofuels industry veteran journalist Rachel Gantz has joined the Renewable Fuels Association as the organization’s new communications director. Gantz will serve as the RFA’s spokesperson, communicating the group’s top messages to reporters, and will focus on growing RFA’s footprint in the media. Gantz spent nearly 17 years as a reporter, most recently at Oil Price Information Service, where she was a senior reporter covering the biofuels industry. She also worked at Hart Energy Publishing’s Oxy Fuel News, and Argus Air Daily, covering the biofuels and air emissions industries.