Bhavneet Bajaj, Ph.D.
Scientific Program Manager
Dr. Bhavneet Bajaj joined the ILSI Research Foundation as a Scientific Program Manager in July 2018. She has been involved in projects related to safety assessment of foods and feeds derived from genetically engineered plants. She has served as a resource person in providing technical support for capacity building programs in biotechnology. Additionally, she manages operations for both the ILSI-Crop Composition Database and the World Nutrient Databases for Dietary Studies. She earned her Project Management Professional credential in May 2019 from the Project Management Institute.
Her research work over the past 12 years involves plant secondary metabolites of nutritional, agricultural and medicinal importance. Prior to joining the ILSI Research Foundation, Dr. Bajaj was a Visiting Scientist at the Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture, where she worked on carotenoid pathway regulation in tomatoes. As an Associate Investigator with the Plant Protection group at (then) DuPont, she devised a metabolic engineering strategy for insect control in soybean. Dr. Bajaj has worked as an Assistant Professor at Jaipur National University, India where she taught genetic engineering, enzymology and biochemistry courses to M.Sc. level students.
Dr. Bajaj received her B.Sc. (Chemistry, Honors) from Banasthali Vidyapith, India, M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Biotechnology from Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, India. Her graduate level research comprised genetic diversity studies on bacterial blight pathogen of clusterbean using molecular markers. Her post-doctoral training at the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, University of Maryland involved studies on triterpene glycosides and phenolic acids in Actaea racemosa cell suspensions and methodologies for accelerating seed germination.
Senior Program and
Ms. Stephanie Carter has over 25 years of experience at ILSI. She first worked with the ILSI Risk Science Institute as an Administrative Coordinator before it was folded into the Research Foundation. Ms. Carter serves as Senior Program and Conference Manager for the Research Foundation and provides the primary administrative and logistical support for all Research Foundation sponsored conferences, workshops, and symposia. Ms. Carter has extensive organizational experience and has been involved in the development, planning, and management of international conferences, workshops, and training programs since 2000. She served as a program manager for the Research Foundation’s TAKE 10! Program and did teacher training and school outreach to help promote physical activity and health in elementary schools.
Morven A. McLean, Ph.D.
Morven A. McLean Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the non-profit International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) Research Foundation, where she works with a dedicated team on multi-sectoral, interdisciplinary scientific and capacity building programs that span agriculture, nutrition and the environment.
Dr. McLean first joined the ILSI Research Foundation in in 2009 as Director of the Center for Environmental Risk Assessment, and in 2013 was additionally appointed lead for sustainable agriculture and nutrition security across the ILSI organization internationally. She has held the position of Chief of Canada’s Plant Biotechnology Office, the federal regulatory authority for the assessment and release of genetically modified plants, and was President of AGBIOS, a consultancy that works internationally with governments, non-governmental organizations, and the public and private sectors on issues of policy and regulation pertaining to genetically modified foods, crops, and forest tree species. Dr. McLean has served as a technical expert on biotechnology risk assessment, regulation and policy for many organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development, the United National Environmental Program and the Secretariat to the Convention on Biological Diversity, as well as many national governments.
Dr. McLean received her B.Sc. (Agriculture) from McGill University, M.Sc. in environmental biology from the University of Guelph, and Ph.D. in molecular plant virology from the University of British Columbia. She completed her post-doctoral training with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada’s Vancouver Research Station.
Rachel Melnick, Ph.D.
Senior Scientific Program Manager
Dr. Rachel Melnick joined the ILSI Research Foundation as Senior Scientific Program Manager in August 2019. She worked for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for nearly a decade both as a researcher and as a program manager.
Prior to joining the Research Foundation, Dr. Melnick was the National Program Leader for Agroclimatogy and Production Systems at the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), where she co-led competitive interdisciplinary research and extension grant programs on climate change and agriculture, sustainable agricultural systems, agricultural microbiome, integrated pest management, and Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems (INFEWs) with the National Science Foundation (NSF). She also managed a topic area in the USDA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. During her postdoctoral studies at USDA Agricultural Research Service, she studied the molecular mechanisms behind the physiological condition known as cherelle wilt of cacao and the mechanisms leading to formation of witches’ broom and frosty pods diseases on cacao. She currently serves as editor for the journal Biological Control.
Dr. Melnick received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Pennsylvania State University, where she studied biological control of cacao diseases.
Andrew Roberts, Ph.D.
Dr. Andrew F. Roberts is the Deputy Executive Director of the ILSI Research Foundation, where he is responsible for programs addressing environmental risk assessment and food safety assessment for biotechnology. Dr. Roberts joined the ILSI Research Foundation in December 2009 as the Deputy Director of the Center for Environmental Risk Assessment (CERA), where his first tasks included developing tools and materials for use in training and capacity building related to the problem formulation approach to environmental risk assessment published by the Research Foundation (Wolt et al 2009). He has served as the coordinator for CERA’s capacity building projects under the USAID funded South Asia Biosafety Program (SABP) and the World Bank funded Partnership for Biosafety Risk Assessment and Regulation, in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Vietnam as well as providing technical support for capacity building work in Brazil, India, Japan, Chile, and South Africa. In January of 2015 he became the director of CERA as well as the Center for Safety Assessment of Food and Feed (CSAFF), which works on food and feed safety assessment for foods derived from genetically engineered plants. In January 2017, he became the Deputy Executive Director of the ILSI Research Foundation.
Prior to joining ILSI RF, Dr. Roberts worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in several different capacities, all related to the regulation of agricultural biotechnology. He began his career at USDA as an AAAS Risk Policy Fellow in the Office of Science of Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS), the group responsible for regulating genetically engineered plants at USDA. After spending a year in the New Technologies office of the Foreign Agricultural Service serving as the lead for USDA’s efforts related to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, he returned to BRS to serve in the International Affairs branch where he remained until joining ILSI RF.
Dr. Roberts received his Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology from Rutgers University where he worked on signal transduction in the model nematode C. elegans.
Ms. Layla Tarar joined the ILSI Research Foundation in August 2017. A graduate of Boston University, she holds a dual degree in Biology and International Relations. Prior to assuming her current role, she worked as an Editor and Web Content Administrator at LUISS University in Rome, Community Liaison Office Coordinator at the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, and Management Assistant at the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi. At the Research Foundation, she supports our communications initiatives, as well as the Board of Trustees.