Affiliates have realized that CIFAR is a unique organization that yields high value returns on membership investment. By understanding the needs of both the business community and researchers, CIFAR offers specialized connectivity of its members' specific interests through a network of relevant individuals and programs.


Profile shot of Sharon Shoemaker
Sharon Shoemaker
Executive Director

Sharon Shoemaker, PhD, joined UC Davis in 1991 as founder and director of the California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research (CIFAR), where she brings together a wide variety of organizations and individuals, forming collaborations and project teams to conduct applied research, and organize conferences to disseminate state-of-the-art knowledge in emerging technology areas.

Since founding CIFAR, she has initiated a number of new activities at UC Davis through guidance of an executive committee and advisory affiliates board. A sampling includes:

  • Multi-investigator research and forums on lignocellulosic conversion since 1991;
  • Dedicating the Herman Phaff Yeast Culture Collection (1996);
  • Establishing and directing the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center site in Advanced Processing and Packaging at UC Davis (94-’04);
  • Administering the nation-wide testing of technology for more efficient use of water and energy, plus waste reduction, in food processing operations (’92-’02);
  • Constructing a Roadmap for energy efficiency in California’s food processing industry;
  • Creating research directories of UC Davis faculty in Food for Health (editions ‘96, ’98, ’01, ’02) and in Utilization of Agricultural “wastes” (‘01); and
  • A collaborator with the nationally recognized Food Foresight (since 1993).

Shoemaker holds B.S. degree in Chemistry, M.S. degree in Food Science and Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry and Nutrition from Virginia Tech. After doing post-doctoral training in biochemical engineering, she worked for 15 years in the biotechnology industry before joining UC Davis. Her career research focus has been on biomass, especially studying cellulases and their applications; developing enzyme-to-mixed sugar processes and optimizing microbial strains for production of the value-added products, such as lactic acid and ethanol. Her industrial experience led to patents on cellulases, novel yeast strains to convert biomass-to-ethanol and novel bacterial strains to produce new forms of cellulose. She also led team efforts to improve enzyme systems to convert biomass-to-sugars and subsequent fermentation to chemicals, and to characterize and develop ligninase systems for use in the pulp and paper industry.

Shoemaker is a signaturee in the original DOE Biomass Roadmap Compact, a DOE Industries of the Future valued partner in Agriculture, and invited lecturer at the Marcus Wallenburg Prize (Sweden, 1985). She has been a long-time contributor to strategic plans, technical programs and organizing committees for DOE, USDA, and American Chemical Society. Shoemaker has active ties to China, Japan, The Netherlands and India. In China, she is a visiting professor at Beijing Technology and Business University’s Advanced Innovation Research Center in Food Nutrition and Human Health and at Dalian Polytechnic University. She is the UC Davis lead in the Jiangnan University-UC Davis Joint Research program in Chinese Traditional Fermented Foods. In Japan, Shoemaker is administrative lead for the UC Davis exchange program supporting Hokkaido University’s new Graduate School in Global Food Resources. Shoemaker is a partner in the Agri-food Nexus with Wageningen UR and the Global Action Platform. In India, Shoemaker is a program leader in Clean Works – India. Shoemaker is editor-in-chief of the Nature partner journal: Science of Food. She is the 2002 recipient of the Charles D. Scott Award for Biotechnology Research Applied to Production of Fuels and Chemicals.

Profile shot of Richard Amón
Ricardo Amón
Energy Management Project Leader

Ricardo Amón completed a Bachelors of Science in Community Economic Development and a Master of Science in International Agricultural Economic Development, both from the University of California, Davis. Ricardo was hired by the California Energy Commission in 1988, to lead the state’s Energy in Agriculture Program. This program was designed to advance science, technology and best practices aimed at reducing energy consumption in agricultural production and food processing, as well as to convert biomass to energy. In 2010, Ricardo was hired by the UC Davis California Biomass Collaborative to conduct a statewide food and beverage processing industry residue assessment. In 2011 he joins the California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research (CIFAR), to implement the US Department of Energy’s Industrial Best Practices Program and advance adoption rates among food and beverage industrial facilities. Ricardo is collaborating with senior engineers and food industry managers to develop and implement a Water Energy Nexus Assessment methodology to calculate water energy intensity and to identify water and energy conservation opportunities.

Profile shot of Lei E
Lei E

CIFAR – China

Lei E is an advisor to CIFAR and liaison to CIFAR China. Mr E. is a program manager for the California Center, which is part of Golden California. Additionally, he is a consultant in international trade with McWong International. Mr. E is assisting CIFAR to future develop business relationships between U.S. and China in agricultural technologies from concepts to products. He has a B.S. in Biology from Fudan University (Shanghai, China), an M.S. in cotton genetics and breeding, and is a Ph.D. candidate on alfalfa genetics and breeding from New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM).

Profile shot of Ruth Ann Kinselle
Ruth Ann Kinsella
Executive Assistant to Sharon Shoemaker

Ruth Ann Kinsella is assisting with recruiting, communications and interactions in CIFAR's global network. Kinsella provides a wealth of knowledge, experience, and style

Profile shot of Elizabeth
Elizabeth Chin
Web Communications Leader

Elizabeth Chin is a Ph.D. candidate in Food Science and Technology at UC Davis. Her research focuses on identifying changes in citrus metabolism during infection with the pathogen that causes Citrus Greening Disease. Her work has a direct impact on the California citrus industry, and she works to help keep citrus growers informed by writing non-technical articles about her work and other ongoing citrus-related research, as well as by giving presentations; this has fostered her passion for science communication and translating complex, technical ideas to diverse audiences. Elizabeth works on maintaining the CIFAR website and improving CIFAR's social media presence.

Executive Committee

  • Alan Bennett
  • David Block
  • Roger Boulton
  • Bruce German
  • Clare Hasler-Lewis
  • You-Lo Hsieh
  • Bryan Jenkins
  • Carl Keen
  • John Labavitch
  • Maria Marco
  • David Mills
  • Jim Murray
  • Zhongli Pan
  • Ray Rodriguez
  • Jim Seiber
  • Paul Singh
  • Ruihong Zhang
  • Sharon Shoemaker, Executive Director
  • David Reid, Associate Director and Professor emeritus, Food Science and Technology
  • Ricardo Amon, Agriculture and Energy Specialist
  • Mary Dulany, Dean, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

External Advisors

  • Allen Bah, Technology Investment
  • Pam Contag, Renewable Technologies
  • Mike Campbell, Agricultural and Food Business
  • Pam Contag, Biologies
  • Henry He, Global Trade
  • Sam Cunningham, Food and Nut Technology
  • Mark Fenn, Strategic and Business Management
  • John Foster, Organic Production and
  • Dee Graham, Food Processing and Preservation
  • Glen Lewis, Energy and Supply Chain Management
  • Mark Linder, Culinary and Agriculture
  • Alex McCalla, Agricultural Economics
  • Pinfan Rao, Global Food
  • Li Ni, Global Studies Program with Fuzhou University
  • Steve Shaffer, Environmental Stewardship
  • Tom Wong, Beverage Processing