Alex McCalla
CIFAR Advisor
Agricultural Economics

Alex F. McCalla, PhD, is Professor emeritus of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Graduate School of Management, UC Davis. Dr. McCalla received his first two degrees from the University of Alberta before moving on to the University of Minnesota where he received his doctorate in Agricultural Economics in 1966. Throughout his academic career he was associated with UC Davis where he served as Dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Associate Director of the California Agricultural Experiment Station (1970 75) and Founding Dean, Graduate School of Management (1979 1981).

Dr. McCalla is best known for his research in international trade where he has published extensively. The quality of his research and communication skills have been recognized by the American Agricultural Economics Association which presented him with its Quality of Communication Award in 1979 and its Quality of Research Discovery Award in 1982. He was elected Fellow of the American Agricultural Economics Association in 1988, a Fellow of the Canadian Agricultural Economics Society in 2000 and a Distinguished Scholar of the Western Agricultural Economics Association in 2004. He was a founding member and co convener of the International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium. He served as the Chair of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) from 1988 to 1994.

He elected early retirement from the UC Davis in 1994 to become the Director of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department of the World Bank in Washington, D.C. During his tenure he led a major effort to revitalize the World Bank's commitment to Rural Development. He was Director of Rural Development from 1997-1999.

In 1998 and 1999, respectively, he was awarded the Degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, by McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and the Doctor’s Degree of Honor by the Georgian State Agrarian Universit. In 2004 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Alberta.

He served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of CIMMYT- the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, a CGIAR Center with Headquarters in Mexico,(2001- 2005) and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis. He is a Past-President of the UC Davis Emeriti Association.

Sam Cunningham
CIFAR Advisor

Food and Nut Technology

Sam Cunningham, PhD, is the owner of Cunningham Business Consulting Inc, a firm with a network of relationships in global food and agriculture businesses. He is a charter member and current Chairman of the Nutrition Research Committee for the Almond Board of California.

Dr. Cunningham is a professional food scientist with strong international business experience. He began his career as Professor at the University of Tennessee (Food Science) prior to spending 10 years in business development with Frito-Lay Inc and Pepsico Foods International. Before beginning the consulting business, Dr. Cunningham was Director of R&D/QA at Blue Diamond Growers in Sacramento California, the world’s largest almond company.

Dr. Cunningham is a member of the Institute of Food Technologists, American Oil Chemists Society and other professional organizations. He has degrees in food science and a doctorate in Biochemistry from Texas A&M University.

Dr. Cunningham and his wife, Diana, have has two grown sons, two grandsons and live in Folsom, California.

Zack Wochok, PhD
CIFAR Advisor
Business Management

Zachary S. Wochok, PhD, a veteran C-Suite executive, is the retired CEO of food ingredient company, PGP International, Inc. Currently, Dr. Wochok is the President and Founder of management consulting business, The Wochok Group, LLC ( Prior to joining PGP Dr. Wochok served for three years as CEO of specialty ingredients company, NURTURE, Inc. He was President and COO of Calgene, Inc. and prior to its merger with Calgene, he was CEO of agricultural biotechnology company Plant Genetics, Inc. He also held positions at Monsanto and Weyerhaeuser.


Dr. Wochok is a Director of Puroast, Inc., Phyllom, LLC. and an advisory board member of CIFAR. He is a member of IFT and IMC. Dr. Wochok began his career as professor of biology at the University of Alabama, following a post-doctoral position at Yale University. He received his Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology at the University of Connecticut.

Mark Fenn
CIFAR Advisor
Strategic & Business Planning

Mark Fenn is Managing Director, Business Planning International, LLC. Specializing in small business environment logistics, remote systems applications for independent business collaborations, creating business plans, project analysis, financial models and solution implementations. Fenn has over 30 years experience in operations; finance; accounting; corporate planning and analysis; strategic investments and acquisitions.

Prior to starting Business Planning International, Fenn held positions at Rayonier Inc. a multinational forest products company. He served in numerous roles including Director Corporate Planning & Analysis responsible for the planning and analysis of strategic growth and acquisition opportunities in the US and Australia. Assistant Corporate Controller leading financial, accounting and systems function for Forestry, Real Estate and Wood Products Divisions, generating $350 million in sales. Director of Financial Planning responsible for all aspects of corporate forecasting, budgeting & planning. Fenn also held financial management positions at Ingredient Technology Corporation a food ingredient processor and importer; as well as, Microdot Inc, a manufacturer of industrial, automotive and aerospace subassemblies.

Fenn is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University and received an MBA in Finance from the University of Connecticut.

Mark Linder
CIFAR Advisor
Culinary and Agriculture

Mark Linder has dedicated over 30 years to serving California and American Agriculture. He is widely recognized as the first president and co-founder of the Agriculture in the Classroom program which he helped to establish, first in California, then throughout the United States and across the globe during his 23 years with the California Farm Bureau.

Mark is a co-founder and served as president of Food, Land & People, an educational organization representing diverse sectors of society with the common interest of positive dialogue focused on the interdependence of food production, environmental quality and the sustainability of human cultures.

Raised on a 5th generation family farm in Iowa, Mark is a graduate of Iowa State University, a fellow of the California Agricultural Leadership Program and an Agricultural Fellow of the John J. McCloy Fellows Program to Germany. Mark is recognized for his leadership in creating strategic partnerships and as a pioneer in educating urban sectors with the values of the agricultural perspective.

He is currently the U. S. Agriculture Liaison for The Culinary Institute of America and is a consultant to CreAgri, Inc., Advanced Microbial Solutions, Innovative Growers, America’s Heartland television show on PBS and various other food and agricultural related businesses. Mark has been a member for many years on the California State Fair’s Agricultural Advisory Committee and actively serves on the boards of the Center for Land-Based Learning, California Institute of Food & Agricultural Research and the UC Davis Olive Center. He presently serves as president of his family’s faming operation in Iowa and is a founding partner of Community Minded Partners, Remember Your Hometown and Culinary One Investments. Mark has a deep love for agriculture and has focused his career on the promotion of rural/urban connections.

Mike Campbell
CIFAR Advisor Agriculture

Mike Campbell.

Allen Bah
CIFAR Advisor

Technology and Finance

Allen Bah, MBA, is an Executive Vice President of Global Investment Holdings Co, Ltd (GIH). GIH is a 23 year old integrated financial service firm headquartered in Taipei, with branch offices in China. Since inception, GIH has invested and nurtured 400 portfolio companies, about 200 of them have achieved successful exit (85% via IPO). Many of the companies have grown into multinational firms (e.g. TSMC, Acer, ASUS, D-Link, UMC, Del-solar, NSP & etc) with active presence in the Greater China and North American markets.

While with GIH, Mr. Bah played a lead role in the development, negotiation and execution of an investment and strategic alliance relationship with Bank of Nova Scotia (the third largest bank in Canada). Moreover, he is responsible for the firm’s international operations and plays a key role in the firm’s Financial Advisory Services (i.e. investment banking), and Venture Capital division respectively.

Prior to GIH Mr. Bah held several positions, as a venture Partner of Ventana Capital, as Executive Vice President & a founder of Wearne USA Inc. and in the strategic planning and international banking departments of Bank of America.

Mr. Bah is literate and fluent in Chinese and English. He earns his MBA & BA degree from UCLA & University of California (Irvine) respectively.

Thomas C. Wong
CIFAR Advisor
Beverage Processing

Thomas C. Wong, Ph.D. is retired from the position of Director of Research for E&J Gallo Winery, Modesto, CA. He obtained his B.S. degree in Food Science and Technology from Oregon State University in 1967, and his Ph.D. in Agricultural Chemistry from the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis in 1970. He started to work for Gallo Winery right after graduation. During his first 10 years as Senior Research Scientist, he invented many important wine processing material and developed many processing techniques. All these developments were aimed for more efficient raw material utilization, reducing process time and labor costs, water and energy usage. His other expertise was in solving processing and quality problems in wines. He was promoted to Director of Research in 1980 and served in that position until his retirement in 2001. His great success in R&D is his ability to visualize and select research projects that have high potentials to be developed into successful commercial products. His other ability is to simplify complex industrial processing steps into more efficient and cost-reducing new schemes, without sacrificing quality of the products. All these achievement were made possible when he was given the opportunity to initial his own research projects and developed them from laboratory research results all the way to industrial production scale. Because Gallo Winery is the world’s largest winery, its production scale may mean many million gallons of wine, or thousands tons of non-wine products. His research interests and scientific specialties are in industrial application of enzymes, solid-liquid separations, including developing an asbestos replacement for wine filtration and a new membrane filter for microbial (yeast) removal in wines , fermentation technology, natural colors and natural polymers, oxidation problems in foods and beverage, anti-oxidative food components, nutriceutical properties in foods, bio-processing of heat sensitive material, food stability, food packaging and packaging material, by-product recovery from food wastes, and food waste treatment. He owed his ability to do wide varieties of research to the good course works and dedicated teachings from talented professors in food science and technology at the above two universities. From 2001-2007, he served as advisor to the president of Valley Research, an international enzyme company located in South Bend, Indiana. The majority of Valley Research’s enzyme products are for food applications, although it also supplies enzyme to fermentation, feed and fuel-ethanol industries. In his advisory capacity, Tom further extended his expertise to other non-wine industries, including dairy, fruit and fruit juice, corn syrup, fat and oil, starch and baking, flavor, nutritional and dietary supplement, protein and protein hydrolyzates, feed, and ethanol fuel. In addition to his involvement in enzyme R&D in Valley Research, Tom also involved in production, marketing and sales of enzyme products. As many food companies started to depend on the technical services of their vendors, Tom help solved many production problems for the customers of Valley Research, although most of these problems are not related to application of enzymes. Tom also served for many years as industrial advisor for Cornell University, Oregon State University, University of Calif at Davis, China Agricultural University in Beijing, the Wine Institute (US), Tobacco and Wine Bureau of Republic of China, Taiwan. Food and beverage industries in People’s Republic of China.

Li Ni
CIFAR Advisor

Chinese Food Culture

Li Ni, PhD, is a professor of food chemistry, the deputy dean of the College of Bioscience and Biotechnology, and the director of Institute of Food Science and Technology of Fuzhou University, Fujian Province, China. Her teaching includes Biochemistry, Food Chemistry, Enzymology and its applications. Her research group focuses on biochemical evidence behind the traditional Chinese Yin-Yang theory, mechanism of rice wine and oolong tea making. She has received more than 30 awards of excellence for her teaching and research. She was elected as secretary-general of the Institute of Food Science and Technology of Fujian Province in 2009. She earned her B.S. at Fuzhou University and PhD. at Jiangnan University and has studied at the University of California, Davis in 2001 as a postdoctoral researcher and in 2011 as a visiting scholar.

Henry He
CIFAR Advisor
Global Trade in Agricultural Products

Mr. Henry He is CEO of WildBee Nutrition USA Group, Inc., and WildBee Fine Wine, Inc. He also serves as Director of 99people. Inc ( and Director of SVIEF ( Silicon Valley Technology Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum),

Mr. He has more than 20 years experience as a trader in the agricultural and industrial sectors. He is a member of the Association of Food Industries and the National Honey Packers and Dealers Associations. His company is currently exporting California wine throughout the world and especially to Asian countries.

Steve Shaffer
CIFAR Advisor

Steve Shaffer is an independent consultant supporting agriculture in the areas of environmental and agricultural policy and regulations, natural resources stewardship, renewable energy technologies, and communications and outreach. He currently represents the American Farmland Trust on the California Roundtable on Ag and the Environment (CRAE), the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops, the Best Management Practices Challenge. and the California Rountable on Water and Food Supply. Previously, Steve managed the Office of Agriculture and Environmental Stewardship at the California Department of Food and Agriculture. see also.

Pamela R. Contag
CIFAR Advisor


Pamela R. Contag, Ph.D., is currently the CEO of Cygnet Inc. Cygnet builds partnerships in the areas of renewable fuels, and platforms for the production of low cost therapeutics, biologics and industrial enzymes, and is currently working to develop a carbon dioxide capture and conversion bioreactor to produce biofuels from waste carbon dioxide.

Dr. Contag founded Xenogen Corporation in 1995 and has served as President and Founder at Xenogen from 1995 to 2006, and concurrently, the CEO of Xenogen Biosciences from 2000-2006 when Xenogen merged with CaliperLS. In 2000, Xenogen Corporation was listed as one of the “Top 25 Young Businesses” by Fortune Small Business and in both 2001 and 2003 received the R&D 100 award for achievements in Physics. In 2004, Xenogen was named in one of the top 100 fastest growing companies by the San Francisco Times and received the Frost and Sullivan Technology Innovations awards. Dr. Contag was named one of the “Top 25 Women in Small Business” by Fortune magazine. She was also awarded the Northstar Award from Springboard Enterprises.

In 2005, Dr. Contag founded Cobalt Technologies, Inc., a venture backed company that produces biobutanol from renewable feedstock. She was the Chairman and CEO of Cobalt Biofuels from 2005-2008. In 2008 Cobalt was named one of the top 20 Cleantech Companies and in 2009 one of the top 100 Cleantech Companies. In 2007, Dr. Contag co-founded ConcentRx, Inc. a biotechnology company developing a unique cancer therapy developed by three Researchers from Stanford University. Dr. Contag founded Cygnet BioFuels in 2009. Cygnet BioFuels, her second biofuels company, is a company focused on the utilization of novel organisms for feedstock and biofuel production. In 2011 Dr. Contag was awarded “Cleantech Innovator of the Year” award for Cygnet technology.

Dr. Contag has held board positions, public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Dr. Contag was a Director of Xenogen Corporation (Nasdaq) (1995-2005) and a Delcath (Nasdaq) Board Member (2008-2011). In the private sector she was CEO and Chairman of Cobalt Technologies (2005-2008), Cygnet Biofuels (2009-present), Director at ConcentRx (2007-present) She also joined in 2009 the DOE Biomass technology Advisory Committee and two nonprofit boards, Springboard Enterprises, an accelerator of women entrepreneurs and the Molecular Sciences Institute as executive chairman and in 2011 merged that entity into MSI/VTT, and remains a Director. Dr. Contag also consults in biotechnology for academics and industry, including consulting Professorship at Stanford School of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics (1999-present), the Dean’s Advisory Board of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (1999-2005). In 2010 Dr. Contag joined the Merrick Engineering Consultancy specializing in the energy field and in 2011 Dr. Contag was named to the Start-up America Foundation National Board.

With more than 25 years of microbiology research experience, Dr. Contag is widely published in the field of Microbiology and Optical imaging and has over 35 patents in Biotechnology. Dr. Contag received her Ph.D. in Microbiology at the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1989 studying Microbial Physiology and Genetics (for Alternative Fuels) and completed her Postdoctoral Training at Stanford University School of Medicine in 1993 specializing in “Host/Pathogen Interactions”.

Glen Lewis
Energy & Supply Chain Management

As the former Director of Energy & Indirect Procurement for Del Monte Foods, Lewis has over 30 years of experience in all facets of operations management including production management, technical, laboratory and quality services, process reengineering, engineering, maintenance, supply chain management and energy management. Glen is a member of the American Production & Inventory Control Society (APICS) Board of Directors – Sacramento Chapter. He is certified in energy procurement and management by the Association of Energy Engineers and completed the US Department of Energy-Federal Energy Management Program. With the US Department of Energy, California Energy Commission, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and CIFAR, Lewis has led a spectrum of major federal and state energy technology and supply chain-related initiatives applicable to California’s food industry relating to demand response and energy efficiency. He was recently a project leader for the US Air Force-Air Combat Command in electricity smart grid development for the military.

Lewis was the team leader for a US Department of Energy demonstration project for the US food industry. The demonstration project objective was to develop Best Practices in enterprise energy management (EEM) to optimize WAGES resource management (Water, Air, Gas, Electricity, Steam) and to integrate with enterprise asset management (EAM) to maximize equipment life cycle energy efficiency and working capital management. The EEM-EAM Best Practices demonstration project earned a 2005 State of California Flex Your Power award for Energy Education & Leadership. The technologies, currently called Green Energy Management System (GEMS), are applied in the food and beverage industry as well as other energy-intensive industries for energy management and sustainability integration. Sierra Nevada Brewery is a leadership example of GEMS technologies integrated with sustainability objectives and metrics. In addition, the GEMS technologies have been innovatively integrated with wastewater chemistry and realtime weather data. The applicable work is recognized by the US Department of Energy-Office of Scientific & Technical Information as a Best Practice in energy-water resource management.

Lewis is a graduate of UCLA and received his MBA from The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA. He completed an executive education program in supply chain management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA and continues executive education there in operations, technology and supply chain management.