In the News
Sweetwater Energy, Inc., a Rochester-based renewable energy company, today announced the formation of its scientific and engineering advisory board.
The new board is chaired by Robert Clark, dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Rochester. Filling out the board are Anthony Sionskey, Sinskey is a Professor of Microbiology in the Department of Biology at MIT; Craig Yunker, Managing Member of CY Farms; Thomas Judson, Chairman and CEO of The Pike Company; and Mike Baron, CEO of the Advanced Fibers Business for ChemChina.
“We have brought together leaders in cutting-edge engineering, science, and agriculture to provide valuable insight and perspective as we push the envelope on cellulosic sugars,” said Arunas Chesonis, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Sweetwater. “We are immensely pleased to have these individuals on hand to guide us as we expand in the exciting renewable energy marketplace.”
“Taking Sweetwater’s laboratory knowledge and turning it into commercial-scale machinery demands great engineering, and Rob’s expertise lies perfectly on that nexus of academic research and engineering,” said Mr. Chesonis. “We’re very excited to have Rob’s insight into how to move past some of the hurdles that inevitably crop up when a startup is moving science off the benchtop and into the field.”
“Alternative sources of energy are critical to the future of our nation and its economy,” said Dr. Clark. “The work undertaken at Sweetwater is aimed directly at providing alternatives to our nation’s dependency on oil and simultaneously serving the economy in upstate New York. I very much look forward to working with the leadership at Sweetwater in this exciting venture.”
Dr. Clark was appointed Dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Rochester in September of 2008. He spent the previous 16 years of his academic career at Duke University where he held several administrative roles in the Pratt School of Engineering inclusive of department chair, senior associate dean, and dean. Dr. Clark has more than 130 journal publications and has earned awards including the R. Bruce Lindsey Award from the Acoustical Society of America, the National Science Foundation Career Program Award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and the NASA Group Achievement Award. Mr. Clark received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1992.
“Tony is world-renown for his research in microbiology, and microbiology is at the heart of turning Sweetwater’s sugars into fuels and chemicals,” said Mr. Chesonis. “We couldn’t be more pleased to have Tony at the ready as we navigate the biochemical landscape before us.”
Mr. Sinskey is a Professor of Microbiology in the Department of Biology and Professor of Health Sciences and Technology in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology Program Engineering Systems Division, as well as Faculty Director of the Center for Biomedical Innovation. In addition to his academic career, Mr. Sinskey co-founded Metabolix a bioscience company focused on providing sustainable solutions for the world’s needs for plastics, chemicals and energy. The company takes a systems approach, from gene to end product, integrating sophisticated biotechnology with advanced industrial practice. Mr. Sinskey also co-founded Genzyme Corporation, Natural Pharmaceuticals, and Tepha, a medical device firm. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his Sc.D. in Microbiology and Food Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sinskey performed his post-doctoral work at the Harvard School of Public Health.
“Too often when people talk of renewable energy they forget that the agricultural component is one of the most difficult aspects to manage and control,” said Mr. Chesonis. “Craig is both a very successful farmer and entrepreneur. His knowledge will be invaluable to Sweetwater as we make the best and most responsible use of the land that will supply us with our next generation of energy.”
“I am excited to be involved with Sweetwater,” said Mr. Yunker. “It’s a project that has the important potential of combining the future needs of renewable energy with pioneering engineering and agriculture.”
Mr. Yunker is the owner and managing partner of CY Farms, LLC, in Elba, NY. CY Farms is recognized as one of the largest, most innovative and progressive farm operations in New York State with approximately 7,000 acres under cultivation. The business includes large acreage of fresh vegetables, a turf farm, a heifer-rearing facility, and a custom vegetable harvesting business. Since 2001, Mr. Yunker has served as a Trustee of Cornell University and is closely involved with the Western and Central New York business community. He currently serves in leadership roles on both state and national agricultural organizations, including the New York State Agriculture Society, and the Farm Foundation Roundtable.
“Manufacturing industrial sugars in a decentralized fashion requires facilities running under all kinds of conditions, using all kinds of crops, in all areas of the country, and Tom’s construction experience will be vital in helping guide Sweetwater in designing and constructing these facilities,” said Mr. Chesonis.
“It’s a pleasure to participate in this kind of sustainability project because it’s a win-win on so many levels,” said Mr. Judson. “Sweetwater has the opportunity to bring together agriculture and renewable energy in a way that can have a dramatic impact on both.”
Mr. Judson established the construction firm, The Pike Company, Inc. in 1985, which was previously the John B. Pike and Son, Inc., founded by his great-grandfather in 1873. Mr. Judson currently serves as the company’s Chairman and CEO. He currently serves on the boards of the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Center for Governmental Research, and the Business Council of New York State. In 2011, he completed his term as Chair of the Rochester Business Alliance Executive Committee. In 2009, Mr. Judson was inducted into the Rochester Business Hall of Fame. He was also honored with the Civic Award for Commerce and Industry from the Greater Rochester Metro Chamber of Commerce in 2001, and in 2003, he received the Rochester Business Journal’s inaugural Fifty Over 50 award. Judson earned his B.S. from Yale University and his M.B.A. from Cornell University.
“Part of Sweetwater’s focus is on valuable chemicals derived from plant material, and Mike will be key in giving insight into ways we can move Sweetwater’s sugars into the chemicals marketplace, both domestically and overseas,” said Mr. Chesonis.
“I am incredibly excited to join the Advisory Board for Sweetwater Energy and offer my experience to help the company move to the next level,” said Mr. Baron. “Sweetwater Energy has a great foundation and is well positioned to provide the market an economically viable, game-changing, renewable resource.”
Mike Baron has over 25 years’ experience building and leading businesses for Fortune 500 Companies across industrial and consumer markets. Mr. Baron is currently the CEO of the Advanced Fibers Business for ChemChina / Bluestar, a Fortune 500 Company and the largest chemical company in China. In his current role, he has responsibility for businesses and manufacturing facilities across Asia, Europe and the Americas. Mr. Baron spent the first fifteen years of his career in technology, operations and business leadership positions at DuPont in their Chemicals, Materials and Fibers Businesses. He then spent ten years at Nike, initially as the Global Research Director for Nike’s Apparel Business, and then as General Manager for a number of businesses focused on sports equipment and accessories.
Mr. Baron has a B.S. in Ceramic Engineering from Alfred University, and an MBA from the University of Richmond. He has several patents to his credit and has served on the boards of a number of philanthropic organizations.
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Sweetwater Energy uses a unique technology for producing low-cost nanofibrillated cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, sugars, and clean lignin from non-food plant materials to help meet the modern world's increasing bioenergy and biochemical demands.
2400 Mt. Read Blvd.
Rochester, NY 14615
Call Us: 585-647-5760
Email: [email protected]