Ashley Cruz – Events & Administrative Assistant, Biomass Energy Network

Ashley is a graduate of NAIT’s Event Management Program with a Specialization in Program Planning. Formerly an interior designer at Stantec, she has experience working with architects and engineers on energy-efficient design of interior spaces. After transferring to an administrative role more focused on events and marketing, she became a certified event planner and joined the client care team at River City Events, identifying clients’ event requirements to provide suitable event rental and planning solutions. During her time with the Biomass Energy Network, Ashley is excited to gain experience planning “green” events, expand her knowledge of low-carbon biofuel technologies, and play a small part in the movement towards cleaner energy in Alberta.

Ashley currently serves as a Director of Marketing and Communications with the International Live Events Association (ILEA) Edmonton Chapter, and she was also a Future Leader award finalist at the 2019 Edmonton Event Awards. She is passionate about sustainability and optimistic about reducing the world’s carbon footprint one step at a time.

Michael Chae – Operations Director, Biomass Energy Network

Dr. Michael Chae has helped oversee several research programs in the area of biomass conversion during his five-year tenure as the Program Manager of the Biorefining Conversions and Fermentation Laboratory (UofA).  This experience has cultivated a desire to advocate for the development of novel bio-based technologies that can accommodate the growing global demand for renewable fuels, products, and chemicals.  In addition to his vast experience in facilitating laboratory research, Dr. Chae has also served as a Project Manager for BioFuelNet Canada and is currently serving as a member of the Bioeconomy Alberta team.

Through his various laboratory experiences, Dr. Chae has received extensive training in genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and inorganic chemistry.  Working in the Biorefining Conversions and Fermentation Laboratory has exposed Dr. Chae to the value of multidisciplinary collaborations in accelerating the development of innovative and disruptive technologies.  This tenet was a key factor leading to Dr. Chae’s involvement in the establishment of the Biomass Energy Network.

Dr. Chae received his PhD from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta in Molecular Genetics. His work focused on using a model organism, Neurospora crassa, to study intracellular signaling pathways.  Following his graduation, he was awarded a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Postdoctoral Fellowship to study the process of ageing at Saitama University in Saitama, Japan. He then moved to Dallas, Texas for another postdoc at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of circadian rhythms. In 2012, he moved back to Edmonton, Alberta to work for Maxxam Analytics, an environmental testing laboratory, as a Scientific Specialist, and was later promoted to Soils Supervisor of the Inorganics Department.  In April 2014, Dr. Chae was recruited to the University of Alberta where he serves as the Program Manager for the Biorefining Conversions and Fermentation Laboratory, and the Operations Director of the Biomass Energy Network.