A tree trunk covered in moss in front of a blurry background on the forest in winter

Our Team

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Chris Walton

CRIBE CEO

Chris Walton is the CEO for the Centre for Research & Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIBE); Chris is a management professional with over 20 years of experience specializing in government relations, strategic planning, sustainability planning & project development, with a focus in the forest products & bio-economy sectors.

Prior to joining CRIBE, Chris was the President & Principal Consultant for a Thunder Bay based boutique management consulting company that specialized strategic planning, government relations & organizational planning and prior to that he was responsible for the environment and energy portfolio for a large integrated pulp & paper facility.

Mike Barten

Mike Barten

Nextfor Coordinator

Mike is the Nextfor Coordinator with CRIBE, overseeing industry collaboration activities through Nextfor, Industry Challenge Funds, and leading forest innovation initiatives. Prior to joining CRIBE Mike worked as a natural resources consultant at a Thunder Bay based firm, specializing in the permitting and the forest products sector; and previously as a forestry technician at several working forests in Connecticut, USA.

Mike has 8+ years of experience as an environmental science & natural resources professional in the sustainability, permitting, environmental and forestry consulting field.

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Sarah Benčić

GIS Innovation Coordinator

Sarah Benčić is a multidisciplinary GIS & Environmental professional with a great eye for cartography, design, & compelling analysis. She joined Cribe after completing an undergraduate in Environmental & Biological Sciences, & a post-graduate in GIS Cartographic studies. With years of experience in the Silviculture, Forestry, and Energy sectors she’s a well rounded interdisciplinary critical thinker with a passion for creating user friendly cartographic products.

Sarah loves the Thunder Bay region and is very excited to see positive change & growth in the space of bio-economy; while supporting the existing forest industry members. She loves working with our Nextfor partners to configure new tools & datasets to steer our pursuit of geospatial decision-making with our partners in Ontario & around the world.

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Advait Shanker

Policy Analyst Intern

Advait is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto Mississauga, completing his B.A. with a specialist in Economics and Political Science and minor in French in June 2023. Over his university years, he worked in the Environmental Governance Lab as an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the Centre For Global Health Security & Diplomacy as a policy analyst. As CRIBE’s current Policy Analyst Intern, he is excited to learn about the global state of the bioeconomy through benchmarking legislations around the world relating to sustainable building materials, innovation parks and the like and preparing case studies of successful innovation parks and growth in other clean-tech, with the goal of providing actionable recommendations to spur the growth of Ontario’s bioeconomy. 

Board of Directors

CRIBE’s Board of Directors includes senior executive leadership from forestry, science, business, academics and finance. Expertise from the bio-chemical, bio-product and forest sectors ensures projects are relevant and fosters a culture of collaboration.

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Doug Murray

Chairman of the Board

Doug Murray has significant experience working with communities and industry in Northwestern Ontario, through Board participation, economic development, and involvement in the forest industry. As CEO of the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission, Doug interfaced with many public organizations and government agencies; understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario economies. Doug spent over 30 years in the forest industry, as a professional engineer and Forest Industry General Manager. During this time, he had to manage through significant business downturns. It is this experience that drives him to work on the Bio-Economy as a future growth engine for Ontario.   

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Michael Willick

Past Chairman of the Board

Michael Willick has served on the Board of Directors for CRIBE since it’s inception. Willick brings with him, years of experience with government and the forest industry.

Willick has a wide range of executive experience in the Ontario government, including policy and program development, stakeholder relations, negotiations, and operations. Willick established the Forests Division within the Ministry of Natural Resources as Assistant Deputy Minister.

He holds a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of New Brunswick and is a Registered Professional Forester. In the past, Mike has also held the positions of Chair of the National Forest Strategy Coalition, Director of FPInnovations, Director of FERIC, and Director of the Ontario Lumber Manufacturers’ Association.

Willick continues to be heavily engaged in economic development and forestry, through his consulting work. He lives on the shore of Rainy Lake near Fort Frances with his wife Gail.

Marianne Berube

Marianne Berube

Vice Chairman of the Board

Marianne Berube lives and works from North Bay, Ontario. She graduated from Nipissing and York Universities with degrees in Environmental Science and Business,  and later her Certified Investment Management designation. She has extensive experience within the Finance, Construction and Wood industries and recently retired from the Canadian Wood Council. Marianne sits on several boards, and is the present Chair of Nipissing University’s Board of Governors and CRIBE’s Vice Chair.

Marianne was the Executive Director of Ontario Wood WORKS!  for the past 22 years, building the program from its pilot launch to the Provincial initiative it is today. Marianne has been recognized for her efforts by receiving the CIBC Chairman’s Award, an Influential Women’s Award from Northern Ontario Business, the Ontario’s Forest Sector Champion Award from the OFIA and a Nipissing University Influential Alumni Award.

Marianne is looking forward to using her experience in the forest sector to support and grow CRIBE’s mandate.

Cem Gercek

Cem Gercek

Board Member

Cem Gercek is the Director of Operations and Head of Decarbonization at Carmeuse, a leading global producer of lime products and aggregates. He is a senior leader with 20+ years of experience in Operations, Mining, Change Management and Leadership.

Cem believes in the importance of developing a strong bio-economy in Ontario to support the path to decarbonization for hard-to-abate industries. With net-zero deadlines fast approaching, biomass will play a crucial role in decarbonizing heavy industries in Ontario valorizing existing forest by-products while creating new jobs.

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Bernard West

Board Member

Bernard West graduated in chemical engineering from the University of Manchester – UMIST. He held increasingly responsible positions in the Canadian chemical industry at Polymer Corporation Imperial Oil, Delegue Pays for Rhone-Poulenc Canada, COO of Canada Colors and Chemicals Limited and CEO of CANSOLV Technologies

Bernard has also been very active in industry associations and industry-government bodies.  For the past two decades he has been a leader in the Sustainable initiatives. Past Member of the Board and Founding Co-Chair in 2008 of the Bioindustrial Innovation Canada / Sustainable Chemistry Alliance, Sarnia, Currently Co-Chair of the Canadian Green Chemistry and Engineering Network, Ottawa, a member of the Board of Life Sciences Ontario, Toronto and a member of the Board of the Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy [CRIBE], Thunder Bay.

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Mahima Sharma

Board Member

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Murali Reddy

Board Member

Murali Reddy is a Group Technical Manager at Canada Colors and Chemicals (Manufactured Plastics), and has 15+ years of experience in plastics and sustainability, automotive sectors.

Murali excels in new product development, circularity initiatives, technology marketing, and crafting robust sustainability strategies. He boasts a track record of co-inventing numerous pioneering polymers-related and sustainable materials technologies and holds a portfolio of 24 patent applications (with 6 already granted).

Murali has PhD in Chemical Engineering from Melbourne, Australia and MBA from John Molson School of Business, Montreal, Canada. He also serves as board of director at Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIBE), Ontario’s leading forest-based innovation accelerator.

Murali believes that Ontario’s biomass is well positioned to address the decarbonization of the economy and can have significant impact on climate change. As a CRIBE Board Member, he looks forward to applying his experience and expertise in carbon-negative materials and the automotive sector to promote the province’s biomass and sustainable manufacturing.

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Emma Master

Board Member