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Technical Advisory Council

The Technical Advisory Council (TAC) of Resource Innovation Institute is advisory to RII’s Board of Directors.

By charter, the Technical Advisory Council is an objective, multidisciplinary venue where all voices are heard. Horticultural best practices emerge out of professional and effective facilitation by the RII team.

Guides the development of standards
Shapes tools and resources to support best practices
Topics under consideration include:

  • AI & Advanced Robotics
  • Climate Control
  • Energy Management
  • CHP Integration
  • Site Feasibility
  • Decarbonization
  • Dutch Knowledge Transfer
Advocates for informed policies, incentives and regulations

New working groups will be launching in 2024

Qualified parties are encouraged to express interest at:

Please include qualifications, references and relevant project information.

CEA Leadership Committee

Tony AbbasStrategy & Business Development Manager Prospiant

Al ZylstraDivision Manager DRAMMwater

Al Zylstra is Division Manager of DRAMMwater, the water management and treatment segment of DRAMM Corporation of Manitowoc, WI. He has more than 30 years’ experience in the engineering, design, supply, and support of horticulture environment technology systems for commercial and institutional growing facilities throughout North America. Zylstra’s experience includes water treatment and water management systems, irrigation systems, nutrient management and injection systems, heating and computerized environment control systems, nurseries, and indoor growing facilities. Zylstra is backed by his team of Engineers, Project Managers, and purchasing and logistics specialists. He is a frequent presenter at horticulture industry seminars and forums.

Dr. Md Shamim AhamedAssistant Professor University of California Davis

Dr. Ahamed is interested in the energy-efficient design and operation of controlled environment agricultural (CEA) production facilities, including greenhouse, indoor/vertical farming, aquaponics, dairy and poultry barns, etc. Controlled Environment Engineering Lab focuses on different research topics in CEA, including thermal environment modeling and simulation; design optimization and evaluation of energy-saving techniques for the agricultural built-environment; net-zero energy (NZE) agricultural buildings; digitalization of CEA production systems; automated ongoing commissioning of HVAC systems. These research efforts aim to ensure the sustainability of CEA production systems through the minimization of energy usage.

Kyle BoothSenior Staff Engineer Energy Solutions

Kyle Booth is a Senior Staff Engineer and licensed professional mechanical engineer at Energy Solutions. As the lead CASE author for the 2022 and 2025 CA Title 24, Part 6 Controlled Environment Horticulture CASE Report, he led the research into minimum efficiency requirements for horticultural lighting, dehumidification, and greenhouse envelope measures. He is on the ASABE / ASHRAE X653 Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) for Indoor Plant Environments without Sunlight standards development committee. In addition to controlled environment horticulture codes development, Kyle is the lead engineer for several commercial midstream energy efficiency programs across the country. Before coming to Energy Solutions, Kyle performed agricultural energy efficiency audits on farms across the US for seven years with EnSave, Inc. Kyle comes from an agricultural background, growing up around his family’s dairy processing facility in Vermont, Booth Brothers Dairy.

Chris CallahanExtension Associate Professor The University of Vermont

Chris Callahan is the Extension Associate Professor of Agricultural Engineering at the University of Vermont. His work focuses on the application of the engineering practice to food systems. Specific engagement is with food producers, processors, and distributors to improve efficiency, quality, safety and cost control through integration of technology, systems integration and process controls.

Travis GrahamAccount Manager Global Business Development Schneider Electric

Travis has over 20 years of business development experience globally, and is a certified energy procurement/ sustainability/efficiency expert within multiple verticals including Pharmaceutical, Horticulture and Food and Beverage.

Dr. Tessa PocockChief Science Officer Soli Organic

Dr. Pocock is the CSO at Soli Organic and brings decades of experience in plant lighting and physiological research as well as indoor agricultural management to Soli Organic. She has held a variety of roles in academia and in the controlled environment agriculture sector, most recently as director of lighting optimization at Plenty. Pocock holds a doctorate degree in environmental stress biology and master’s degrees in plant biochemistry from Western University (formerly, The University of Western Ontario).

Leslie Halleck GreenIndustry Consultant, Horticulture & Agriculture Business & Marketing Halleck Horticultural, LLC

Halleck is a Certified Professional Horticulturist (ASHS) who has spent her 30-year career hybridizing horticulture science with industry and consumer needs. Halleck earned a B.S. in Biology/Botany from The University of North Texas and an M.S. in Horticulture with a concentration in floriculture and greenhouse production, from Michigan State University. Halleck currently runs Halleck Horticultural, LLC, through which she provides high-level strategic green industry and agriculture business and marketing consulting services, as well as horticultural consulting for growers, the landscape industry, garden centers, and product innovation and development. Halleck is an award-winning marketer and writer for industry and consumer publications, a book author, and columnist for GIE Media. She is also a UCLA Extension Horticulture Instructor and holds a Medical CEA Cultivation Technology Certificate, USU.

Shanita PennyFounder & CEO Budding Solutions

Shanita Penny is a supply chain and business strategist, small business advocate and entrepreneur with over 18 years of experience helping world class companies and startups solve complex issues and improve business performance across multiple industries. In 2015, she rebranded her consulting business to Budding Solutions, a boutique cannabis business strategy and public policy consultancy. Shanita is a past president of the Minority CEA Business Association (MCBA) and has provided testimony on equitable cannabis policy in several cities and states and testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Small Business Committee regarding the role of small businesses in the CEA industry.

Corinne WilderVP, Global Commercial Operations Fluence by OSRAM

Corinne’s interests lie in environmental protection and sustainability - whether that has to do with energy efficiency, eco-responsible business practices, researching new government legislations, or simply doing a community trash clean-up, count me in. She gets deeply engaged in program management, analytics and business development activities, as she likes to dig into detail in order to determine trends and potential gaps, but also have the bandwidth to initiate and drive new processes internally and externally. She is looking to continue to grow in this exciting field through new business ventures and initiatives.

Dr. Chieri KubotaProfessor - Controlled Environment Agriculture | The Ohio State University

Dr. Kubota is a professor at Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, and Director of Ohio Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (OHCEAC) at the Ohio State University. Her research mission is to serve in the development of science and technology in the area of controlled environment agriculture (CEA). Her projects are in an interdisciplinary area that encompasses plant physiology and horticultural engineering to enhance understanding and efficiency of CEA plant production systems such as greenhouses, warehouses (vertical farms), and growth chamber. Dr. Kubota’s research and extension contributions include greenhouse strawberry production, LED-lighting application, and low temperature storage of high quality transplants. Dr. Kubota is very active in training professionals through online courses, hands-on training, and consultations.

Kyle Clark, EnSaveVice President, Business Development

Kyle first came to EnSave in 2007 before going on to earn a master’s degree in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science at Sweden’s Lund University. After rejoining in 2013, Kyle has concentrated on business development and relationship building with EnSave’s industry partners, including several leading milk cooperatives.

Dr. Morgan PattisonPresident & Scientist | Solid State Lighting Services, Inc

Dr. Morgan Pattison also serves as consulting Senior Technical Advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy Lighting R&D Program for over 12 years and works with the National Park Service to develop lighting practices that preserve the natural ecosystem. Other SSLS clients include investors, product developers, growers, and lighting buyers. Morgan has a PhD in Materials Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara with thesis research on advanced LED device design and fabrication.

Nona YehiaCo-Founder & CEO, Vertical Harvest

Nona Yehia is the CEO and co-founder of Vertical Harvest. An architect by training, and already a partner in a successful design firm, Nona conceptualized Vertical Harvest in 2010 with co-founder Caroline Croft-Estay, to be North America’s first vertical hydroponic greenhouse and a pioneering enterprise focused on inclusive, customized employment for people with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. She holds an M.A. in architecture from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation, and a B.A. in architecture from the University of Michigan. But her most enduring credentials are her fierce optimism, ability to champion potential, and inspire people from wildly different walks of life to rally around a common cause. Her ability to connect people with ideas and move them to action is the engine behind Vertical Harvest’s success.

Keith CoursinPresident, Desert Aire

Keith Coursin is the president of Desert Aire LLC, a Milwaukee-based manufacturer of integrated environmental control systems including GrowAire™ Systems for the CEA cultivation industry. In addition to his duties at Desert Aire, Mr. Coursin served in 2009 as chairman of the board of directors of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). He has also served on numerous AHRI committees. Mr. Coursin is also a member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Keith Coursin’s efforts to drive market-based solutions that promote resource efficiency include development of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Model Aquatic Health Code as well as ANSI/ACCA standards detailed in the CDC’s HVAC Design for Swimming Pools & Spas (Manual SPS).

Matt BonavitaPresident, Ludvig Svensson

Matt Bonavita is the President of Ludvig Svensson, North America (US/Canada). Previously, he served as the North American Sales Manager within Svensson.From Raleigh, North Carolina, Matt has lived in Charlotte for the past 15 years. Svensson’s US/Canada based production and confection facility is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Svensson is the pioneer and world leader in climate control and energy efficiency through textile based solutions. Our functional climate screens control humidity, temperature, and UV radiation according to requirements, creating excelling conditions for better and greater production in greenhouse all over the world. Matt previously worked for a Japanese based company who manufactured power supplies. As that company was widespread in many industries (semiconductor, automotive, Universities, automation equipment and OEM’s), Matt realized that he found high interest in the automation industry and OEM industry for Agriculture. Many of the power supplies were used in the automation equipment used in greenhouses. Therefore, Matt then followed his passion and interest, and now is a member of the Svensson family.

Dr. Genhua NiuProfessor, Texas A&M University

Dr. Genhua Niu is a Professor of Urban Agriculture at the Texas AgriLife Research Center at Dallas and the Department of Horticultural Sciences. Her areas of expertise are in controlled environment agriculture, indoor vertical farming and plant stress physiology.

Dr. Dave BubenheimSenior Research Scientist NASA

David Bubenheim is a Senior Research Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center and an affiliate of the Global CEA Consortium.

Chris HigginsPresident & Co-Founder, Hort Americas

Mr. Higgins is the President and General Manager of Hort Americas, LLC ( a wholesale supply company servicing all aspects of the commercial horticultural industries. Over the past years Hort Americas has had a special focus on horticultural lighting, hydroponics substrate and nutrient management making them one of the leading resources for greenhouse and vertically farmed vegetable growers. He is also owner of (online education content provider) as well as an active board member for both industry start-ups and non-profit organizations focused on food production and distribution. He has been active internationally as a founding partner of the Foundation for the Development of Controlled Environment Agriculture and the International Congress on Controlled Environment Agriculture in Panama. With over 20 years of industry experience, Chris is dedicated to the commercial horticulture industry and is inspired by the current opportunities for continued innovation in the field of controlled environment agriculture.

Andy LeeGlobal Technical Knowledge Manager, Grodan

Andy joined Grodan in 2000 as a crop consultant and became Technical Manager in 2014. He is a regular speaker at industry conferences and grower events. He has published numerous research reports as well crop technical articles which have appeared in horticultural trade magazines throughout the world. Andy’s unique position allows him to stay close to the leading edge developments in Europe. In 2009 Andy founded and still chairs the “Green Expert Platform” – a knowledge exchange forum for internationally recognised greenhouse crop consultants and industry specialists. Since 2017 Andy has been helping Grodan shape its vision for data driven Precision Growing. From 2021 he has lead a small team who are dedicated to knowledge generation and communication across a range of greenhouse grown crops.

Patrick HidderPrincipal ARCO/Murray Design Build

Patrick joined ARCO/Murray in 2010 and has provided operational leadership since 2015, when he helped start ARCO's Dallas office. He has been integral in building teams within new niches, providing successful management and leadership for over 200 projects across ARCO's major verticals, including tenant improvements, heavy processing, entertainment, industrial, self-storage, and controlled environments. In addition to his executive oversight, Patrick provides coaching and mentorship to high-performing project managers, focused on helping them grow into the next generation of ARCO leaders.

Jeannie SikoraSenior Energy Engineer, CLEAResult

Jeannie Leggett Sikora’s career in energy efficiency spans the agricultural, residential, and industrial sectors. Her main responsibilities at CLEAResult include serving as an agricultural subject matter expert, measuring and verifying savings for efficiency programs, and consulting on utility energy efficiency program design. Prior to joining CLEAResult, she worked in university cooperative extension on various farm and food processing energy issues, conducted research and outreach for the home building industry, and operated a consulting business. Ms. Sikora holds an M.S. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Penn State, is an author of two home building books, and resides in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Active TAC Working Groups

Controls & Automation
Working Group

Water Circularity
Working Group