Smita Shankar | AIChE

Smita Shankar

SVP of Biomanufacturing
Impossible Foods

Smita Shankar is the SVP of Biomanufacturing at Impossible Foods. She leads the team responsible for manufacturing and scaling Impossible Burger’s “magic” ingredient – soy leghemoglobin, or “heme” – which provides the unmistakable flavor and aroma of meat. Previously, Smita was the VP of R&D at Impossible.

Smita joined Impossible Foods in 2013 as one of the company’s first R&D hires. Following Impossible’s discovery of heme as a key ingredient in 2014, she built the company’s microbial strain development program from scratch, leading to industrial-scale production of recombinant proteins. Over the next seven years, Smita oversaw the implementation of new research and technology, built multiple production plants, and established a world class team of scientists and engineers. In 2017, her work resulted in a mission-critical patent covering Impossible Foods’ unique method of producing heme at scale.

Prior to Impossible Foods, Smita worked at Codexis engineering microbes to make sustainable bio-based detergent alcohols.

Smita got her Ph.D. in Biochemistry, Molecular and Cellular Biology at Cornell University, where she studied bacterial gene expression. Following her Ph.D. she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco, where she researched the genetic manipulation of yeast through a fellowship from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.