Who We Are
Meet the fermentation intersection of, scale-up, semi-commercial works and project development, meet Zea2 Bioworks.
Meet our Management & Operations Team
Jason Webber
Managing Director

Jason leads Zea2 Bioworks’s business development and technology outreach to partners. He is a polymath and has worked in venture capital and entrepreneurship since 2005. He brings in-depth technological and financial knowledge to the firm, spanning a variety of engineering disciplines. Jason has conducted research for both the Department of Energy and NASA. His previous experience includes plasma research at the Fusion Studies Laboratory, propulsion research at Moscow Aviation Institute, time at an Illinois-based venture capital firm and founding of a Fin-Tech startup and the ignition of SC Ventures. More recently he has shifted to operations, leading capital upgrade projects at Zea2 and the downstream process development and purification for amino acids. He is also a U.S. veteran, volunteering for multiple tours in the Middle East, as well as deployments to Bosnia (under NATO) and Peru (for drug interdiction). He holds an M.S. in Nuclear Engineering, a B.S. in Engineering Physics, a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and an MBA all from the University of Illinois.

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Michael Windrim
Production Manager

Michael began at ZeaChem as a process engineer and played a critical role in the successful completion of ZeaChem’s $12M AFRI grant from the USDA for cellulosic feedstock analysis. As a Production Engineer he was instrumental to the success of all areas of the L-alanine pilot process development at the Zea2 Bioworks facility focusing on chromatography and crystallization. Michael has a B.S. in Bioresource Science & Engineering from the University of Washington.

Brent German
Plant Manager Pro Tem

Brent is a highly experienced plant commissioning leader having spent 25 years in the manufacturing, construction, and engineering fields. He oversaw all construction activities for a greenfield $210MM oilseeds plant including engineering, procurement, construction, staffing, training, commissioning, startup, and subsequent operation. Post-startup, he led all facility activities including operations, EHS, HR, and continuing site project management and engineering. Brent German currently serves as Zea2’s Plant Manager pro tempore. Brent’s expertise hails from 25+ years of engineering and industrial project management with Cargill Inc., Louis-Dreyfus, and Ag Processing. Brent holds a B.S. in Agricultural Economics and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Kansas State University.

Meet our Advisory Board
Bill Aimutis
Food Scientist

Bill Aimutis is currently Executive 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 on plant-based product development and scale-up in a pilot plant operating under cGMP standards.

Industry Experience

“The food industry is in an interesting evolution as consumers seek less processing, cleaner labels, and more localized production of their food.” 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.

Research Leadership

Bill has held several research and operations leadership and management positions in his career. Bill is a Certified Food Scientist, 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 agricultural and food industries.

Aimutis also serves on industry advisory committees for Food Science (Virginia Tech University), the Agriculture Innovation Forum (Larta), and the University of Illinois’ Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory. Additionally, Bill is on several corporate scientific advisory boards.

William H. Baum
Biotechnology Industry Expertise

Mr. Baum has served as a director of Gevo since January 2016 and serves on the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. Since January 2015, he has operated a consulting business advising small biofuel and renewable chemical companies on a variety of commercial matters.

Business Leadership

"Bill has great relationships with major players in the chemicals and fuels industry. He brings significant expertise in the areas of chemicals, strategic alliances, M&A, and bio-based products that is highly relevant..."

- Pat Gruber, CEO GEVO.

Mr. Baum served as Chief Business Development Officer of Genomatica, Inc. from September 2010 until April 2014. From August 1997 to September 2010, Mr. Baum served in various roles at Diversa Corporation (now known as Verenium Corporation), a biotechnology company focused on the development of biofuels, including Vice President Sales and Marketing from August 1997 to November 1999, Senior Vice President, Business Development from November 1999 to July 2002 and Executive Vice President, Business Development from July 2002 to August 2010.

Biotech Directorships

Prior to joining Diversa, Mr. Baum served as the Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing at International Specialty Products, Inc., a specialty chemicals company, and held a variety of executive positions, both in the United States and internationally, at Betz Laboratories, Inc., a specialty chemicals company.

Mr. Baum currently serves as a director on the board of directors for Watt Companies, Inc., Leaf Resources Limited and Arzeda Corporation.

Don DiMasi
Biotechnology Commercialization Advisor

Don DiMasi has been an Industrial Bioprocessing professional for 30 years, and is currently SVP of Process R&D and Operations at Brightseed, Inc., an AI-powered nutritional ingredient start-up. He recently served as SVP of Engineering and Process Development for Impossible Foods, Inc., where he was responsible for the design, build, and deployment of novel fermentation and food manufacturing facilities.

"Crucial for scale-up and Bio-Business success is a tight, collaborative, transparent, and trusting relationship between the bio-business owner’s key stakeholders and process development staff, the engaged professional engineering firm, and the host contract manufacturer. Critical, but often neglected areas of focus include risk analysis, contingency planning, robust commissioning, and start-up and shut-down procedures. As these areas often influence process design, they need to be considered as early in the process as possible."

Previously, Don was VP of Process Development at Solazyme (now Corbion) developing products and processes for biofuels, triglyceride oils, food ingredients, and cosmetics made from algae. Prior to relocating to the Bay Area, Don was VP of Process R&D at Mascoma Corporation, working on consolidated bioprocessing of cellulosic biomass, Director of Process R&D at CP Kelco, developing new products and manufacturing processes for microbial polysaccharides, Associate Director at Diversa, developing novel thermostable enzymes, and Senior Engineer at American Cyanamid, developing fermentation processes for animal health products.

Education

Don received his B.S. from M.I.T., M.S. from the University of Virginia, and Ph.D. from Tufts University, all in Chemical Engineering, and also an M.S. in Executive Leadership from the University of San Diego School of Business Administration.

Jeff Lievense
Biotechnology Scale-up Pioneer

As founder and CEO of Lievense Bioengineering and in that capacity serves as an advisor to several biotechnology companies. Previously, he was Senior Advisor to the CEO, Bioengineering & Technology, at Genomatica, a leader in commercial development of biobased process technologies for chemical production.

"Scaling up fermentation processes can require more time and investment than for R&D. Smart scale-up begins with the end in mind; is diligent in the details; and prepares for the unexpected"

Jeff has decades of industrial metabolic engineering, fermentation process development, and scale-up experience at several companies spanning a range of products, including landmark achievements in the field: 1,4-butanediol (Genomatica), farnesene (Amyris), 1,3-propanediol (Tate & Lyle), and indigo (Kodak-Genencor).

Thought leader and educator

For years he served as lead instructor for a UC-San Diego short course on Microbial Fermentation and a contributing instructor to another course on Metabolic Engineering. He organized and co-chaired the first conference on Commercializing Industrial Biotechnology, sponsored by AIChE’s Society for Biological Engineering. Jeff has been recognized for excellence in the field as a recipient of Purdue University’s Outstanding Chemical Engineer Award (2014); SIMB’s Raphael Katzen Award (2018); AIChE’s Fellow status (2018); and National Academy of Engineering Member status (2019). or relevant content. In 2016, Biofuels Digest named him one of the Top 100 People in the Advanced Bioeconomy.

He earned B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan and Purdue University, respectively.

Tim Staub
Biotechnology Executive

Tim Staub is the CEO of Locus Performance Ingredients and owner and Managing Director of Oxford Advisory Services, LLC, a management consulting company focused on the scale-up and development of synthetic biology and industrial biotechnology in food, agriculture, and material sciences. His experience includes food proteins, aquaculture, fungicides, pesticides, antimicrobials, bio-based alcohols and solvents, bio- based organic acids, and biosurfactants.

Industry Leadership

"Collaborative scale-up is the critical key that unlocks the value of your technology."

Tim has been an entrepreneur, executive and consultant in the specialty chemicals industry and in industrial biotechnology for over 30 years in CEO, COO, VP and other senior level roles. He was CEO of Fermentum, Inc., a bio-foundry fermentation start-up, and was Global Vice President of Business Development for Green Biologics (and its predecessor company, Butylfuel Inc.), a biobutanol and acetone company. Tim served as President and COO of CellFor, Inc., a Vancouver, BC based forestry biotechnology firm, and Director – Forestry Biotechnology for Monsanto, where he was a founder of Arborgen – the world’s leading forestry seed company. He worked in various roles over his career at Monsanto, including sales, general management, and procurement in the chemical division. He was sales and marketing director for Arch Chemicals (now Lonza) antimicrobial business unit, focusing on personal care, home care, and industrial markets.

Tim earned a BSc Industrial Management at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business.