ABO appoints new executive director

By Algae Biomass Organization | August 28, 2020

The Algae Biomass Organization’s board of directors on Aug. 20 announced the selection of Rebecca White as the ABO’s new executive director, effective Oct. 1. White is a recognized leader in the algae industry having led algae production operations at several companies, expertly represented the algae industry in Washington, D.C., and helped initiate youth education and engagement programs. White will lead the 15-year-old organization in its commitment to promote and accelerate the power of algae to create a step-change in the health and well-being of humanity and the environment.  

 “Dr. White has been a passionate and tireless advocate for the algae industry and we are thrilled she will be ABO’s new Executive Director. Her leadership will increase ABO’s impact and accelerate our efforts to advance algae to help solve some of the world’s most challenging problems,” said Jill Kauffman Johnson, chair of ABO’s board of directors and head of global market development for Algae at Corbion.  “She has an inclusive vision to advance all algae types of production to meet the needs for innovation in food, feed, biomaterials, biofuels, agriculture, wastewater treatment, and other ecosystem services.”

White brings to ABO deep algae and biotechnology industry experience. Her current and ongoing role as chief technology officer for Pebble Labs and Trait Biosciences in Los Alamos, New Mexico, has broadened that experience to the ag biotech sector.  Early in her career, White joined algae biofuel pioneer Sapphire Energy and brought the company’s first-of-its-kind algae production facility into operations, a feat that required extensive technical and logistical coordination. When Sapphire’s biofuels program concluded she joined Qualitas Health Inc. as vice president of operations, and worked with Green Stream Farms to bring the Sapphire facility into commercial production for a new generation of algae-based products. She then led the commercial process development for Qualitas’ iWi brand of algae-based health products: Qualitas has successfully brought the new brand to more than 12,000 stores nationwide and customers online.

Much of what White has accomplished in her career is at the core of ABO’s mission. She received a Ph.D. in Microbiology from Texas A&M University, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. She went on to complete her postdoctoral work at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

White began her engagement with ABO in 2012, joining as an industry member. She has since served on ABO’s board of directors, organized the annual Algae Product Showcase at the Algae Biomass Summit and contributed to ABO’s technical standards that set parameters for industrial algae production. On the policy front, she worked closely with ABO members and members of Congress to ensure that algae was recognized as an agricultural crop for the first time in the 2018 Farm Bill

White has also been active in workforce development for the algae industry. She is a long-time supporter of STEM education initiatives and serves on the Algae Foundation’s board of directors and industrial advisory board. She participates in “Skype A Scientist” in K-12 classrooms across the country, and mentors early-career scientists every year at the Summit’s Young Innovator’s Lounge.

White will lead ABO as its diverse membership has made substantial progress in areas of food, feed, biomaterials, biofuels, wastewater treatment and other ecosystem services.  The ABO has an active and strong bipartisan Congressional Algae Caucus and an engaged Algae Working Group comprised of six federal agencies.  ABO is putting its weight behind establishing an Algae Center of Excellence to create connections between academic institutions, government agencies, and industry partners to accelerate commercialization of algae products and services. 

“In my work with algae producers, researchers, policymakers and educators, I see the critical role that ABO plays in supporting and accelerating the algae industry,” said White.  “I look forward to joining ABO as the executive director and advancing our mission to help expand the algae industry to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.”

White has been advising ABO management and the board as a senior Advisor since February and will continue in that role until stepping in as executive director in October 2020. 



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