Bill Aimutis is currently the inaugural Director for the North Carolina Food Innovation Lab managed by North Carolina State University on the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. Bill’s team works with entrepreneurial and multi-national companies in fruit, vegetable, and plant-based product development and scale-up in a pilot plant operating under cGMP standards. Prior to his current position, Aimutis was a Research Fellow and Global Director of External Innovation for Cargill, Inc. where he developed the External Innovation program for Cargill’s core businesses, including interaction with global venture capital groups. Bill retired from Cargill in September, 2018. An Indiana native, Bill received a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science at Purdue University and graduate degrees from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the Food Science Department. Bill has held several research and operations leadership and management positions in his career. Bill is a Fellow of the American Dairy Science Association, and a Distinguished Agricultural Alumnus from both Purdue University and Virginia Tech. Additionally, he was awarded an Outstanding Food Science Award from the Food Science Department at Purdue University. Aimutis has been invited to speak at numerous meetings about innovation and investments in the agriculture and food industries. Aimutis also serves on industry advisory committees for Agricultural Engineering (Penn State University), Food Science (Virginia Tech University), the Agriculture Innovation Forum (Larta), and the University of Illinois’ Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory.
A pioneer in biofuels process development, Rahul Basu has been a leader in developing processes for viable conversion of biomass into renewable energy. Basu’s many accomplishments include the startup and operation of one of the country’s earliest pilot plants in fermentation-based biochemical/bioenergy research. Over his career, he has provided technical leadership for the design, commissioning, start up and operation of fermentation-based process plants in the United States. One of the patented technology led to the establishment of a biomass-to-ethanol commercial plant.
More recently Basu has been overseeing the commissioning & startup of a commercial manufacturing unit of fungal fermentation to produce cellulase enzymes for a biofuels plant in Iowa.
He currently serves as application development manager in DSM’s Bio-based Products & Services division. He earned a PhD in chemical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology, has been awarded numerous U.S. patents, and holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India.
Paul Bloom is vice president, Process and Chemical Research, at Archer Daniels Midland Company. In that role, he leads research efforts in process development and chemical research to help ADM develop technologies that will improve the company’s cost position and drive new product opportunities. He also works with ADM’s commercial and production teams to move technologies from the laboratory to deployment.
Bloom joined ADM in 2001 as a research scientist and, in 2007, was named director, Chemical Technology Strategy; during his time at ADM, he has authored more than 20 patents. He also played a key role in developing the research portfolio for ADM’s industrial chemicals group. In 2010, Bloom took on a commercial management role within ADM’s Corn business. Most recently, he served as general manager, Evolution Chemicals™, and director, Technology Commercialization.
Bloom holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Illinois State University and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Iowa State University. He received the Research Excellence Award from Iowa State University in 2001 for outstanding research accomplishments during his graduate studies.
Haotian Xiao got his Bachelor’s of Science from Peking University in China. He majored in Biological Science with a minor in mathematics. Haotian is conducting an internship performing research in the medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. He is working in the Gene Therapy Program specifically with Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC). His day-to-day tasks involve cell culture, image processing, and data analysis. Though the work is not directly involved in drug development, the work is related to developing a disease model and tools for future application. After graduation, Haotian plans to find a technical position in the bioenergy or bio-medicine industry.
Kalyani Ananthakrishnan is from India. She came to the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign to pursue her masters in Bioprocessing and Bioenergy. Kalyani completed her Bachelor of Technology degree from SRM Institute of Science and Technology in Chennai, India with a major in Biotechnology. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, she developed an interest in the bioprocessing field. Her interest led her into working on a project involved in the removal of fermentation inhibitors formed during acidic pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass, using enzymes produced by Trichoderma sp.. With the Professional Science Masters course, Kalyani aims to acquire knowledge from the science as well as the business curriculum that will make her stand out in the crowd and will also be beneficial while working in the industry.
Joshua Bales is a graduate student in the class of 2019 in the bioprocessing and bioenergy PSM program. He graduated from Purdue University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. After working in analytical environmental testing for four years, he decided to come to the University of Illinois for his master’s degree. He is looking forward to learn the fundamentals in biofuel production and gain knowledge in new feedstock used for biofuels. He is also hoping to learn more about the business around the biofuel industry. Joshua wants to eventually work at a corn or biomass biorefinery. He wants to be involved with a field that is working to provide renewable energy to people.
Xinyu Liu is a first year PSM student in Bioprocessing and Bioenergy. He received his bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Science at University of Illinois as well. He is interested in bioprocessing generally but with a particular interest in the process of converting crops into ethanol, diesel, and other co-products.
Laura Pelaez Medina got her Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from the Santo Domingo Institute of Technology, Dominican Republic. She is currently studying for a Professional Science Master’s degree in Bioprocessing and Bioenergy at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. During her experience working in the Logistics area for a local company, she started to gain interests in bioprocessing, renewable energy sources especially in the bioenergy field, since it was one of the few local companies that used biomass as an energy source for some of their food production processes. Therefore, Laura though that she found the best master that could combine her previously skills in managing production processes with her interest in the bioenergy and bioprocessing areas. Her goals for the PSM program is to develop research skills and achieve the required knowledge in that area to be able to put into practice. As an alumni, Laura hopes to be part of a company related to bioenergy or production processes.
Rahul Krishnan Viswanath is from Bangalore, India. Having completed his Bachelor of Technology from Manipal Institute of Technology, in Biotechnology (May 2018), he is currently pursuing the Professional Science Master’s (PSM) in Bioprocessing and Bioenergy at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
During his B. Tech degree, Rahul gained interests towards Bioprocessing, Food Technology, and the Environmental Biotechnology fields. His interests also lie in the Bioenergy sector, especially in the production of Bioethanol and Biodiesel. Rahul undertook internships at Syngene International Limited and Biozeen Pvt Ltd in the fields of industrial Biotechnology, where he dealt with topics like downstream processing, fermentation and animal cell culture. He also experienced an internship at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, where he worked on the “Pretreatment and Bioconversion of Lignocellulosic Biomass to Sugars.”
Rahul feels the professional development from the PSM course will enable him to work towards the business and scientific component within the Biotechnology industry. He hopes to build networking skills through the PSM coursework and seminars.
After graduation, Rahul wants to work in the Food Processing or Bioenergy sector. He has interests in different domains of the Biotechnology market like Pharmaceutical, Food Engineering, and Environment Protection by working on fermentation and downstream processing.