Future readiness does not happen with one person alone. It takes the cumulative work of visionaries and implementers who have developed expertise in diverse fields. Our experts are known for their proven track records and willingness to reach across disciplines to create better living while protecting nature. For over 25 years, we’ve implemented mission-critical solutions across areas such as government, military, telecommunication, healthcare, construction, energy, financial services, retail and more. One common lesson learned is that diversity and interdisciplinary approaches are the most powerful ways to create sustainable, resilient and prosperous solutions. All ELI Experts have a passion for creating a positive impact to improve human life and nature.


Tolga Erkmens lifelong passion to transform technology for the benefit of society and nature led to ECOLAND Institute (ELI), which he founded to improve sustainability and future readiness of communities. Tolga is an entrepreneur, internationally-recognized speaker and systems integrator with over 20 years experience in mission critical applications, product commercialization, and strategic planning. Prior to ELI, he founded two international technology companies – ICCE Systems, a communication and energy management company, and Netsco, a software company specializing in large-scale solutions for Fortune 500 firms, government and military organizations – growing the latter to successful acquisition in 2004. He has served as CIO for healthcare IT companies and conducted market research for emerging products as a business development executive in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia region for Fortune 500 companies.   Recognized as a pioneer in Internet-based enterprise applications, he implemented one of the first Java-based military command control communication infrastructures, customer relationship management system and one of the first Interactive TV implementations in the USA. He has designed and successfully managed over 50 international programs ranging from two to 600 million dollars. He has presented globally at over 30 industry, military, government and university conferences relating to advanced technologies such as mission critical systems, RFID tracking, next generation built environments, advanced analytics, and future readiness.

Tolga is a member of the Cary Economic Development Committee, the Citizen Emergency Response Team, Citizens Assisting Police, the Wake County Hazard Mitigation Plan Coordination Committee, a licensed amateur radio operator and a former president of Cary MacGregor Rotary Club. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Management and a Master's degree in Computer Science with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence.

Bob Fuller is sought after by organizations such as the American Management Association, Lee Hecht Harrison Executive Coaching & Training, Balancing Life's Issues Institute, Creating We Institute and the International Center for Health for his uncanny ability to bring the human side of relationship and collaboration to teams tasked with left brain driven projects.  The result is the team's ability to align quickly and to produce impactful innovative solutions. 

As a Director of ELI, Bob integrates human factors into complex systems development. He has been the Director for the Chamber of Commerce in Fayetteville, NC, home of Fort Bragg, to develop the Angel Fund and Campus for Advanced Sustainability. He was a Managing Partner in Advanced Veterinary Imaging Corporation (AVIC), a company that provided high tech imaging solutions (MRI) to specialized veterinary practices. In addition, he spent ten years at Siemens Medical heading up their training and development group for sales, logistics and service. Prior to his work there, he managed international development, sales training and employee assistance programs (EAP) for UST, Inc., a consumer packaged goods company. After completing his graduate studies, he worked for numerous educational foundations and a mental health clinic in New Jersey.

Bob holds two masters degrees, in Counseling and Business Administration, is certified in numerous personal profile and 360 survey instruments, team building, Covey Seven Habits and Associate Executive Coaching. He recently published Half-off Sail, a humorous story of learning to navigate change and acquire new skills. 

Norma Owen, Workforce Futurist. Before we had the phrase "social entrepreneur," Norma was one.  Norma has designed piloted and implemented 21st Century workforce development programs for marginal groups such as the homeless and women at risk as well as dislocated workers affected by the recent economic downturn.  Simply put, Norma is one of the most successful professional practitioners in the region for helping communities flourish, even as they create their own future.  Norma knows how to maximize every opportunity in a situation, bringing a future-oriented, commanding presence to her presentations and projects.   

Business Leader magazine recognized her as a Woman Extraordinaire for her community and business initiatives.    She has been a Community Relations Chair for the National Association of Women Business Owners, a former board member of the Capital Area Workforce Development Board in North Carolina and President of her own entrepreneurial effort, The Avadon Group.  

Norma is leading researcher on new approaches to workforce development with more than two decades of hands-on experience.  She brings perspective and insight from someone who has designed and implemented leading-edge workforce development practices in the trenches.   Her experiences and thought provoking solutions are included “Foresight 2025”.  Co-authored with Dr. Charles Grantham and Executive Coach Terry Much, “Foresight 2025” delves into the enormous forces shifting the work and education landscape of today and suggests a framework from which communities can create solutions. 

Sara Girotto is passionate about creating human centered spaces, spaces built for people. Her research interests are at the intersection of Architecture and Psychology. She has extensive education and knowledge in architecture, urban planning, spatial cognition and psychology of space. Her personal experiences and knowledge gained growing up and completing her undergraduate studies in Italy coupled with her studies and experiences in the USA provide her with a unique perspective on timeless communities. Sara possesses an exceptional combination of knowledge and skills, rarely found in the same professional figure.  

Sara has experience investigating individuals’ behavior and interactions with the built environment, from both an architectural and a psychological point of view. Her end goal is to make such interactions as easy and productive as possible. She has collaborated with the Rochester Community Design Center (Rochester, NY), facilitating communities’ involvement in community design. Sara has experience in cognitive modeling, human factors, and human-centered design evaluation. She conducted cognitive load studies for the FAA and developed cognitive models for user interfaces. She is currently consulting with the Applied Informatics Group (AIG) at Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA), providing them with insights on human-centered technology development.  

Sara holds a Bachelor’s in Architecture from Politecnico di Milano (Milan, Italy), a Master’s in Psychology from Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX), with a focus on gender differences in spatial cognition, and a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX). Her Ph. D. has a concentration on metacognition of spatial information, i.e. studying individuals’ awareness of degree of learning of spatial information.  

Board of Advisors

Berrin Serdar, MD, PhD, is a public health expert with substantial training and expertise in medicine, environmental health, toxicology and epidemiology. Her research focuses on the interaction between environmental stressors and the human body, particularly those related to mixtures (e.g., jet fuel, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals, or tobacco smoke). Her work has been recognized by various awards including the Technical Innovation Award presented her recently by the Colorado Public Health Association. She has established many research collaborations with other researchers, government agency personnel and industry members. Berrin is the author of numerous research papers in the area of environmental & occupational health, and serves regularly as peer reviewer for scientific journals, professional societies, international expert panels, as well as federal grant review panels. She has developed and taught a number of courses in the area of environmental & occupational health, epidemiology, exposure monitoring, and toxicology. Berrin enjoys mentoring and supervising graduate students, medical residents, postdoctoral researchers, and laboratory and field study personnel.

Berrin earned her Ph.D. degree in environmental health sciences at the School of Public Health, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. She has a medical degree from Ankara University, Turkey and received her postdoctoral training at the University of North Carolina, School of Public Health as well as at Duke University Medical Center. She is an Assistant Professor of Environmental & Occupational Health and Epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health.

Samuel Whitt is an executive with business and legal experience.  He currently serves as Special Counsel to Nexsen Pruet, PLLC, a regional law firm with approximately 200 lawyers in eight offices across the Carolinas.  Prior to his current stint practicing law, Mr. Whitt worked as Executive Director of Cherokee Gives Back a $2 billion Brownfield redevelopment fund.  While working with the Cherokee organization, he was part of the original team that created the Make It Right Foundation, a nonprofit entity founded by actor Brad Pitt to build sustainable, green homes, using LEED standards in New Orleans. Mr. Whitt served as the initial Executive Director of the Make It Right Foundation and continues to serve as its Board Chair.    Prior to joining Cherokee, he served in various C-level positions with growth organizations, including CEO of Wind Channel Communications, a wireless telecom company, which grew from start-up phase in 2003 until sold to a venture-backed company in 2006, and COO & General Counsel of MediaSpan Group, a media services company with over 200 employees and 4000 media customers.  

Mr. Whitt earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Brigham Young University and a Juris Doctor from George Mason University School of Law, where he served on the Law Review.

Cor Rademaker is acknowledged as an expert in the areas of urban concepts and smart cities. As CEO of Strateq since 1988, Cor has been involved in a large number of urban projects in both Europe and in the USA. His projects incorporate and implement sustainable viewpoints for coherent social and economic development, including work on areas, buildings, utilities, techniques and transportation. He regularly presents at conferences globally, including in the US, the UK, Portugal and the Netherlands. Cor’s efforts include collaborations with universities internationally. Together with the Technical University Delft he developed both The Green Campus and The Green Village. For the University of North Carolina he has created a new class on Smart Sustainable Cities. Cor studied interhuman behavior and urban environment, and social geography.

He holds a masters of engineering from Tilburg, and masters of science from  Rijksuniversity Utrecht and an MBA from Erasmus Rotterdam.

Boyce Byerly is an analytics and evaluation expert who has worked across many different domains.   He believes if it matters, it can be measured, and is passionate about finding the data to solve problems.  He recognizes the importance of Ecoland as a living laboratory for experimentation with new technologies and new lifestyles, and wants evaluation built into Ecoland projects from the ground up.  His expertise is in human capital analytics, predictive analytics, statistical analysis, big data, data visualization, and return on investment calculations.  Boyce currently bases his analytics consulting in healthcare, working in clinical trials and continuing medical education.  He is Professor of Business at Bellevue University, teaching in a Human Capital Management doctoral program he helped to found, Adjunct Professor in the school of Human Resources and Labor Relations at Michigan State University, and presents corporate workshops upon request.   He was the recent founder and Chief Scientist of Capital Analytics, where he led the consulting and software engineering teams, serving a lengthy list of Fortune 500 companies and non-profits.  He is the co-author of the recent book Human Capital Analytics:  How to Harness The Potential of Your Organization’s Most Important Resource, and has presented at dozens of conferences, and written dozens of journal articles and book chapters.

Boyce holds a B.S. from Duke University double-majoring in computer science and English, a Masters in Computer Science from Rutgers, and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Computer Science and Cognitive Psychology from Duke.  He believes strongly in service to community and the environment, and currently serves as a scout leader.

Philippe Machuel began his career in financial optimization for warehouse management and manufacturing companies. He eventually progressed into energy optimization, and 15 years ago, founded Shelly North Carolina Incorporated, where he serves as the president and chief executive officer. Aside from his professional endeavors, he is affiliated with the Wildlife Association, and enjoys engaging in sports and martial arts. In the years to come, Mr. Machuel plans to give his career additional value by making a difference in the USA Energy industry and bringing business back to the states, all while protecting the environment.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and master’s degree in physics from Israel Institute of Technology.

Andrei Mitran, founder, IVC, Inc. Andrei has 35 years of experience as an executive manager, technical manager, senior systems architect, project manager and lead software developer. His experience ranges from host based solutions to multi-tier distributed object systems with embedded rules engines to cloud based applications. Andrei has been instrumental in the design of many widely used systems and successfully delivered multi-million dollar solutions to customers around the globe in industries such as healthcare, financial, telecommunications, mining and manufacturing.

Expert Practitioners

In a complex world of interconnected systems, great solutions require input from people with a variety of competencies, qualifications, knowledge and experience.  The ELI network includes practitioners from a diversity of disciplines. Our experts understand the importance of integrating human experience into the many aspects of nature and technology.  Many of these practitioners have expertise and credentials in multiple fields.  All are committed to the mission of achieving communities with sustainable prosperity.


Our Fellows are graduate-level researchers who are interested in validating research in a living environment. Graduate Fellows manage ELI mission-specific, and industry-driven projects. Fellows may also define and deliver a project during their academic career. In these circumstances, ELI will partner with the University to supplement the Fellow's formal education plan.


Our interns participate as part of a team to research and validate ELI-mission-specific and industry-driven questions. The Rising Experts Program of our eXtended Learning Initiatives includes parallel tracks to build knowledge and skills necessary for success in an interdisciplinary market. As with our Fellows Programs, we may partner with a University, college or other educational institution.