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Panelist Biographies - On Meat without Animals

Bruce Friedrich

BRUCE FRIEDRICH is executive director of The Good Food Institute and co-founder of New Crop Capital, a nonprofit organization and venture capital fund that promote and invest in alternatives to animal agriculture. Bruce graduated magna cum laude from the Georgetown Law and Phi Beta Kappa from Grinnell College, and also holds degrees from Johns Hopkins University and the London School of Economics. Bruce has held leadership roles for the past two decades at top nonprofit organizations working to reform animal agriculture. 



Paul Shapiro

PAUL SHAPIRO is the vice president of policy for The Humane Society of the United States, the world’s largest animal protection organization. An inductee into the Animal Rights Hall of Fame, Shapiro has been interviewed by hundreds media outlets as an authority on animal welfare and advocacy. He’s published dozens of articles about animal welfare in publications ranging from daily newspapers to academic journals. Shapiro is also the author of a forthcoming book on the cultured meat movement.



Naomi Starkman

NAOMI STARKMAN (Moderator) is the founder and the editor-in-chief of Civil Eats, a daily news source for critical thought about the American food system, and a winner of the James Beard Foundation’s Publication of the Year. She was a 2015-16 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford and a founding board member of the Food & Environment Reporting Network. Naomi served as the Director of Communications & Policy at Slow Food Nation and has worked as a media consultant at Newsweek, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, GQ, and WIRED magazines. She was previously the Director of Communications for the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). After graduating from law school, she served as the Deputy Executive Director of the City of San Francisco’s Ethics Commission. Naomi is an avid organic gardener, having worked on several farms. 


Uma Valeti

UMA VALETI is CEO and Co-Founder of Memphis Meats. He is laser focused on advancing the commercial viability of real meat farmed directly from animal cells. A cardiologist by training, he believes that meat should not only be safe and sustainable but also good for the body and the soul. He has extensive experience in entrepreneurship and business and has invested in a variety of food, medical and tech companies. Uma is an advisory board member at The Good Food Institute, a former Board member of New Harvest and is a leader in the cultured meat movement. In addition to his many contributions in the health sciences, he wants his biggest contribution to be leading the development of a profitable and a world positive future food system. Fun fact: Uma has rescued several people in cardiac arrest.


Cor van der Weele

COR VAN DER WEELE is professor of humanistic philosophy at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. She was trained as a biologist and a philosopher; her PhD in philosophy of biology focused on metaphors as tools of selective attention in explanations of embryological development. About ten years ago, she learned about the idea of cultured meat through bio-artist Oron Catts. She has been studying developing responses and ideas on cultured meat in interdisciplinary projects, working and publishing with lab pioneers, social scientists and designers. In the field of meat alternatives, selective attention remains a core interest.