Our Team

// \\

Our Team

Jessica Lillie

Jessica Lillie currently serves as the as Executive Director for the US – Mexico Foundation for Science. Jessica oversees the identification and development new funding opportunities to support and expand the organization’s mission. She is responsible for identifying viable programs and projects; appropriate regional, state or national partners; and ensuring their successful implementation and operation within the United States. She has worked for the Foundation since 2011 serving as the Board Liaison and Administrative Coordinator for US activities. Prior to her career with the US -Mexico Foundation for Science, Jessica worked as an associate for the United States Senate. Lillie earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Spanish and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and International Development from the University of Montana. She completed two study abroad experiences in Mexico during her time at the University. A portion of her Master’s program focused on sustainable development and the political history of economic development in Mexico at the Center for Language Study and Ecotourism in Patzcuaro, Michoacán.

Eugenio Marín

Eugenio Marin currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the US – Mexico Foundation for Science, responsible for overseeing the global performance of this organization. He is a results-driven technology, strategy, and operations executive with over 18 years of organizational leadership experience and proven track record as young entrepreneur. He is a mechanical engineer graduated from The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), specialized in Mechatronics. His professional experience begins as entrepreneur, co-founder in 2003 of a startup company in alliance with a German organization dedicated to engineering design and systems integration for the aeronautical sector and other mass transportation systems.

He has over 15 years of experience developing more than 800 technology-based Mexican companies in their international scale, deploying commercial acceleration models and market penetration strategies in the United States, Canada, and Europe through the TechBA acceleration program (Technology Business Acceleration).

Some of those companies he personally developed are related to the Renewable Energy & Sustainability sector: Electric power (manufacturing, transmission hardware, smart grid, harmonizers for power stations, etc.); Solar panels, batteries & heaters; Wind turbines; Wastewater treatment technologies, etc. He was involved as well in the design of business models behind Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) of power utility through solar farms.

Dr. Jianzhi (James) Li

Dr. Jianzhi (James) Li holds President’s Endowed Professorship at The University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley. Professor Li received his Bachelor of Science degree in Automotive Engineering and Master of Science degree in Manufacturing Engineering from Tsinghua University, China. He received his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Texas Tech University. Professor Li has more than 20 years of leadership and research experience in the areas of laser material processing, additive manufacturing, process modeling and optimization, logistics, and sustainable manufacturing.

He also has eight years of industry experience, including business incubation and serving as chief technology director in IT and logistics fields. Professor Li is director of Center for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation and Cyber Systems. He is the founding director of the DoD I-DREAM4D Consortium created on a DoD MEEP grant, focusing on talent preparation for defense innovation leveraging research and education in additive manufacturing and smart manufacturing. He is the founding director of a DOE/NNSA national consortium, supporting additive manufacturing research for energy systems. He was one of the key members of the management team of the North American Advanced Manufacturing Research & Education Initiative funded by the Department of Commerce to support Rapid Response Manufacturing at South Texas. Throughout his career, Professor Li has maintained a distinguished scholarly record and committed to developing new programs that significantly benefit the institution and the manufacturing community.

Professor Li is currently leading multiple research/development projects with about $15 million in grants supported by NSF, DoD STEM, Army, NIST, DOE, and Department of Commerce. His research and education endeavors are also sponsored by industry partners and private foundations including Dell, Honeywell, Caterpillar, GE, BD, ALPS automotive, Bose Foundation, US-Mexico Foundation for Science, among others.

Dr. Farid Ahmed

Dr. Farid Ahmed is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Manufacturing and Industrial Engineering at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. His research interests include additive manufacturing processes and applications, convergent manufacturing, laser material processing, sensing technologies for monitoring applications in advanced manufacturing, and printed electronics. Dr. Ahmed is particularly interested in all-laser hybrid manufacturing systems and composites processing to study convergent manufacturing and applications. He is also interested in the integration of photonic and electronic sensors in systems and processes toward quality control, process monitoring, and implementation of the Digital Twin platform for additive manufacturing. Dr. Ahmed published more than 50 journal and conference articles in the field of laser material processing, additive manufacturing, and photonic/ electronic sensors.

David Ortiz

David Ortiz is the TMAC Regional Director at UTRGV and has 15+ years of industry and academic experience in the areas of continuous improvement, project management, training development, engineering management, and grant administration. He has provided training and consulting to over 50 companies in the South Texas region. Projects include consulting in layout re-design for a small food manufacturing company, assisting in production planning and setting up performance metrics for a multi-national network of distribution centers, and consulting in strategic planning for a client in the construction sector. David has also developed training plans and operational excellence initiatives for different industries. As TMAC Director, his current role includes leading a team of experienced engineers and staff, developing the team, growing the local partnerships, managing the grant, and helping improve the operations of regional manufacturing companies and implement EDA, DOE, and DOC projects.

Linda Ufland

Linda Ufland is the Director of Entrepreneurship, Commercialization, and Innovation for the Office of Workforce and Economic Development at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley located in deep South Texas. Linda is charged with providing leadership and oversight to the Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center (ECC) with focus in business incubation, entrepreneurial development, commercialization and innovation, and incubation management consultation across the region. She drives the vision for the UTRGV ECC in assisting local and international entrepreneurs to create and scale ventures in the Rio Grande Valley that will impact our region's economy and create opportunities for generations to come. Her focus is to develop partnerships with economic development organizations, and international organizations to envision and develop solutions for the region and beyond with a strong commercialization path. The UTRGV ECC is a founding partner of the eBridge project, largest entrepreneurial center in the region. eBridge supports the economic development of South Texas with a focus on scalable businesses.

Linda was raised in Matamoros, Mexico but attended high school in Brownsville, Texas. She earned a bachelor’s in international business and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Her professional drive comes from a sincere dedication to public service and to being part of a transformational economic and entrepreneurial change in our region.