Speakers

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Tom Adams
Chief Executive Officer
Pairwise Plants

Dr. Adams became CEO of Pairwise in April of 2018 after a 20-year career at Monsanto where he most recently served as Vice President of Global Biotechnology leading the development of Monsanto’s next generation of biotechnology traits.  Prior to that, Dr. Adams had numerous technology leadership roles including Vice President of Chemistry Technology,  of Genomics Technology, and Director of Yield and Emerging Technologies.  Before joining Monsanto, Dr. Adams was an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at Texas A&M University.  Dr. Adams has PhD in Microbiology from Michigan State University and a BS degree in Botany and Plant Pathology from Oregon State University. Dr. Adams and the team at Pairwise believe genome editing in plants has the power to offer healthier, more sustainable, accessible and affordable food. By harnessing the natural diversity in plants, the team will bring new varieties for fruits and vegetables to the produce aisle, while partnering to develop traits in row crops that address global challenges to food production.

Day One

Thursday 13th December 2018

9:10 am | Exploring Base Editing to Enhance Crop Diversity and Benefit Consumers

Richard Peterson
Senior Director, Head of the Animal Sciences Division
Intrexon

Dr. Richard Peterson performed his graduate work at Medical University of South and post-graduate studies at Yale University studying molecular mechanisms of tissue development and regeneration. His experience at Intrexon has spanned multiple areas to include production, R&D, regulatory, business operations and strategy. As Head of the Animal Science Division at Intrexon. he has led projects focused on improving animal health through development of food animal vaccines, therapeutics, advanced feeds as well as development of animal lines with engineered traits.

Day One

Thursday 13th December 2018

11:40 am | FLT 01 Tilapia: Nile Tilapia with Enhanced Sustainability Derived from New Breeding Techniques

Yiping Qi
Assistant Professor
University of Maryland College Park

Yiping Qi is interested in plant synthetic biology and plant innate immunity. His lab works on plant genome editing with sequence specific nucleases (SSNs) including ZFN, TALEN, CRISPR/Cas9 and Cpf1. Working with collaborators, his team are currently developing and testing multiple genome and epigenome editing tool systems to aid reverse genetics, accelerated breeding and metabolic engineering in important staple crops such as rice and wheat as well as energy crops such as Camelina and poplar. They also study plant immune signaling networks in Arabidopsis and rice. The long-term goal of his lab is to engineer synthetic plant immunity in major crops.

Day One

Thursday 13th December 2018

8:40 am | CRISPR-Cas Systems for Plant Genome Editing & Transcriptional Regulation

Gözde Sultan Demirer
Ph.D. Candidate, Landry Lab
UC Berkeley

Gozde S. Demirer is a PhD candidate in the department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley in the Markita Landry Lab.  She received a B.S. in Chemical and Biological Engineering from Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey. Her current research centers on the development of nanomaterial-based delivery vehicles for genes and proteins into model and non-model plants towards genome editing applications. She exploits the highly tunable chemical and physical properties of nanomaterials, specifically carbon nanotubes, for targeted delivery of biological cargoes to plants. She is a recipient of Faculty for the Future Fellowship from Schlumberger Foundation and selected as one of MIT’s ChemE Rising Stars. For more details about her work, see Landry lab’s recent Nature Nanotechnology paper: High aspect ratio nanomaterials enable delivery of functional genetic material without DNA integration in mature plants, 2019 (DOI: 10.1038/s41565-019-0382-5).

Day One

Thursday 13th December 2018

9:40 am | Discovering Advanced Gene Delivery Methods: Nano-Mediated Delivery

Leena Tripathi
Principal Scientist and Deputy Director
East Africa Hub at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)

Leena Tripathi is Principal Scientist in Plant Biotechnology at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Kenya. She is Deputy Director of East Africa Hub and Country Representative of IITA-Kenya. Dr. Tripathi is leading the transgenic and genome editing research at IITA based at Biosciences for east and central Africa (BecA) hub. Her primary research focuses on genetic improvement of banana/plantain, cassava, enset (false banana) and yam for disease and pest resistance. She has global collaboration including advanced labs in USA, UK, Australia and National and regional partners in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi . Dr. Tripathi obtained her Ph.D. in Plant Molecular Biology and M.Sc. in Molecular Biology & Biotechnology. She worked at University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA before joining IITA. She has been involved in Plant Biotechnology research for more than 20 years with specific interests in crop improvement.

Day One

Thursday 13th December 2018

1:40 pm | Using CRISPR Cas 9 for Disease Resistance

Tim Kurt
Scientific Program Director
Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

Dr. Kurt builds research collaborations between industry, government, university and non-profit partners to address critical challenges facing science and agriculture. His programs at the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) include the International Consortium for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Agriculture (ICASA), the Egg-Tech Prize, SMART broiler and ROAR – a mechanism for rapid research in the face of emerging disease threats. He is passionate about advancing human and animal well-being through science. Dr. Kurt is a graduate of the DVM/PhD combined degree program at Colorado State University, where he studied infectious and neurodegenerative diseases of livestock, wildlife and humans. Prior to joining FFAR, he worked as a Research Scientist at the Center for Veterinary Sciences and Comparative Medicine at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), where he was the lead investigator on awards from the NIH, the Morris Animal Foundation and the AVMA/AVMF.

Day One

Thursday 13th December 2018

11:10 am | Exploring FFAR’s Advanced Animal Systems Challenge Areas

Tad Sonstegard
Chief Scientific Officer
Acceligen

Dr. Tad Sonstegard is an internationally recognized leader in livestock genetics with more than 20 years of experience in the field. Tad has made seminal contributions to the sequencing of livestock genomes, development of industry-standard genetic diagnostic platforms and elucidation of the genetic basis for traits impacting food animal health, production and well-being. Prior to joining the Recombinetics team, Tad developed and led federally funded projects in applied genomics for ruminant genetic improvement at the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Animal Genomics & Improvement Laboratory. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Biochemistry from Iowa State University and a PhD in Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology and Genetics from the University of Minnesota.  

Day One

Thursday 13th December 2018

12:10 pm | Gene Editing to End Castration of Pigs

Greg Gocal
Executive Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer
Cibus

Greg Gocal, PhD is a co-founder and serves as Chief Scientific Officer & Executive Vice President. In 2000, Dr. Gocal joined an innovative cross disciplinary team at ValiGen, Cibus’ predecessor, as the lead molecular biologist. Within the Plant and Industrial Products Division, his team began developing the RTDS suite of technologies in plant and microbial systems in what was then the nascent field that has become gene editing. Continuing this focus and enabling our technologies and product pipeline, at Cibus, Dr. Gocal has held various research management positions. Dr. Gocal has studied many aspects of plant biology. He was awarded undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Calgary. He worked at CSIRO Plant Industry in Canberra, Australia where he received his PhD in Plant Molecular Biology from the Australian National University, then continued studying in this field as a postdoctoral scientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California.

Day One

Thursday 13th December 2018

2:40 pm | Development of Cibus’ Trait Machine™ to Efficiently Apply Gene Editing

Eyal Maori
Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer
Tropic Biosciences

Dr. Eyal Maori is an entrepreneur and scientist with special interest in the RNA interconnection of infection, immunity and gene dynamics. In recent years Eyal scientifically co-founded the RNAi company Beeologics (acquired by Monsanto in 2011), and later served as a Chief Science Officer at Forrest Innovations, which develops an RNA-based platform for mosquito control. In 2016 he co-founded Tropic Biosciences; a UK-based startup that develops gene-editing technologies and product pipelines for tropical crops including coffee and banana.

Day One

Thursday 13th December 2018

3:40 pm | A Novel Genome Editing Technology

Venkatesan Sundaresan
Distinguished Professor, Department of Plant Biology / Plant Sciences
University of California, Davis

Venkatesan “Sundar” Sundaresan studied Physics at the Indian Institute of Technology, obtained his Ph.D. on the genetics of nitrogen-fixing bacteria at Harvard University, and did postdoctoral research on maize transposable elements at the University of California-Berkeley.  His first faculty appointment was at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where he and his colleagues developed methods for functional genomics in Arabidopsis.  He went on to become the founding Director of the Institute of Molecular Agrobiology (now the Temasek Life Sciences Laboratories) at the National University of Singapore. Subsequently, he moved to the University of California-Davis, where he expanded his research to rice.  In the period since, he served as Chair of the Department of Plant Biology, and as Program Director at the National Science Foundation of BREAD, a program to benefit developing countries.  His current research interests range from mechanisms of plant reproduction and synthetic apomixis, to the complexity of host-microbiome interactions.

Day Two

Thursday 13th December 2018

9:10 am | Manipulation of Gametes for Fixation of Hybrid Vigour in Seeds

Sachin Rustgi
Assistant Professor of Molecular Breeding
Clemson University

Dr. Sachin Rustgi is currently affiliated as Assistant Professor of Molecular Breeding with the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences and Faculty Scholar with the School of Health Research at Clemson University, and Adjunct Assistant Professor with the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences at the Washington State University, Pullman. He holds a master’s degree in Botany from MJP Rohilkhand University, Bareilly and a Ph.D. degree in Crop Biotechnology from CCS University, Meerut. Dr. Rustgi’s research primarily focuses on the improvement of nutritional value in the small grain cereals and legumes especially by elimination or detoxification of antinutritional elements and enhancement of health-promoting factors. To achieve these objectives, he has developed a multidisciplinary team of experts across different Colleges, and the School of Health Research of Clemson University. His research has resulted in some high impact publications in internationally recognized journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, the Journal of Experimental Botany, Plant Molecular Biology, Heredity, PLoS One, and Nutrients, to name a few. In addition to it, Dr. Rustgi authored two monographic books on his research. Given his academic contributions, he was awarded the 2014 Faculty Excellence in Research Award of the Washington State University College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences and invited to join as a member of the Wheat Initiative Expert Working Group on Wheat Quality for Processing and Health. He is also a member of the Crop Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy.

Day One

Thursday 13th December 2018

2:10 pm | Adapting to Novel Breeding Strategies to Develop Crops Safe for Consumption and that Produce in Surplus

Timothy Kelliher
Science Fellow Reproductive Biology
Syngenta

B.A. in Biology at Swarthmore College. Studied leaf cell fate specification under Prof. Scott Poethig and Dr. Stuart Gillmor at the University of Pennsylvania. Then studied germinal cell fate acquisition in Drosophila under Prof. Steven DiNardo at the University of Pennsylvania. Pursued a Ph.D. in Biology at Stanford University, studying with Prof. Virginia Walbot the topic of reproductive cell fate specification in plants. Discovered the physiological cue of hypoxia involved in meiotic cell fate acquisition. Joined Syngenta in 2013 after completing the Ph.D., and cloned the haploid inducer gene in maize MATRILINEAL. Developed haploid induction in rice and other crops, and then developed HI-Edit technology. Runs a small lab working on Reproductive Biology topics including wide-hybridization, microspore culture, haploid induction, genome doubling and genome editing technologies.

Day Two

Thursday 13th December 2018

9:40 am | HI-Edit: Direct Editing of Commercial Crop Germplasm during Haploid Induction

Revel Drummond
Scientist, Plant & Food Research, Plant Development Team
New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltd

Dr Revel Drummond is a plant development scientist at Plant & Food Research, a New Zealand-based science company providing R&D that adds value to fruit, vegetable, crop and food products. Dr Drummond’s research focuses on the discovery and characterisation of genes involved in plant hormone biology and the investigation of CRISPR-Cas use in plant agritechnology.
A graduate of the University of Auckland, Dr Drummond has taught at his alma mata in both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. He is also a contributor to SING Aotearoa, a training program in genomics for people of indigenous deNew Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltdscent.

Day One

Thursday 13th December 2018

4:10 pm | Using NBTs and CRISPR in the Development of High Value Fruit Crops

Tim Ulmasov
Chief Technology Officer
CoverCress, Inc

Tim Ulmasov is a Chief Technology Officer for CoverCress, a St. Louis, MO company focused on development a cover crop, pennycress, into CoverCress. a profitable oilseed crop. Tim has over 30 years of experience in life sciences, including 18 years in various leadership roles at Monsanto, directing cross-functional teams focused on product development using both conventional breeding and biotechnology.  Prior to Monsanto, Tim studied molecular mechanisms of plant transcription at University of Missouri-Columbia, where he made important discoveries in auxin signaling. Tim has a Masters in Physical Chemistry, a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Institute of Molecular Genetics in Moscow, Russia and MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. Leading both R&D and Business Development at CoverCress, Tim is passionate about introducing a pioneering solution to sustainable agriculture that will protect the environment and generate additional income for American farmers currently planting 35M acres in a corn-soybean rotation each summer.

Day One

Thursday 13th December 2018

4:40 pm | Merging Breeding and Gene Editing: Rapid Domestication of Pennycress, a Novel Oilseed Cover Crop

Kristi Snell
Chief Science Officer and Vice President of Research
Yield10 Bioscience

Dr. Kristi Snell is the CSO and VP of Research at the agricultural bioscience company Yield10 Bioscience, a company focused on development of disruptive technologies to produce step-change improvements in yield for food and feed crops to enhance global food security.  She has over 20 years of experience in metabolic engineering of plants and microbes for production of polymers/chemicals or to increase plant yield.  Dr. Snell received a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Purdue University and performed post-doctoral research at MIT. Prior to Yield10, she led the plant science research programs at Metabolix, an industrial biotechnology company, to produce biopolymers in plants.

Day Two

Thursday 13th December 2018

11:40 am | Exploring Novel Approaches for Gene Target Selection and Trait Validation in Crops

Marcus Meadows- Smith
Chief Executive Officer
BioConsortia

Marcus Meadows-Smith is an experienced and successful executive in the specialty chemicals and biologics space, with a passion for innovation in sustainable agriculture. Marcus currently serves as Chief Executive Officer. Prior to BioConsortia, Marcus held the position of Head of Biologics for Bayer CropScience. He assumed the leadership role following Bayer's purchase of AgraQuest, where Marcus was also the CEO. Within four years, Marcus and his team had transformed the small biopesticide company, AgraQuest, from financial distress to the technology leader in the biological market, closing the sale at $425 million plus milestone payments. Previously, Marcus had a 14 year career at Chemtura Corporation, assuming multiple managerial roles ultimately becoming EVP for a $2 billion portfolio of businesses: crop protection, consumer products and plastics additives. Earlier in his career he worked for Sumitomo Corporation. Marcus holds a degree in Biological Sciences, Genetics from the University of Birmingham, UK. He is a graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program.

Day Two

Thursday 13th December 2018

12:10 pm | Increasing Crop Yields by Enriching the Microbiome

Jim Presnail
Vice President, Research and Development
Calyxt

Jim Presnail received his PhD in Entomology from the University of California, Berkeley.  He then went on to work for 19 years at DuPont in several capacities including as senior research manager for the validation of insect control discovery.  Prior to joining Calyxt, Jim spent three years working for Evogene where he was the director of US operations.  Jim joined Calyxt in January of 2018.

Day Two

Thursday 13th December 2018

2:40 pm | Calyxt’s High Oleic Soybean; from Concept to Commercialization

Mark Guiltinan
Professor of Plant Molecular Biology, J. Franklin Styer Professor of Horticultural Botany
Pennsylvania State University

Mark Guiltinan is a Professor at Penn State University and Director of the Penn State Program in the Molecular Biology of Cacao. He has published over 90 manuscripts, mentored 20 Ph.D. scholars, provided hands on experience to >80 undergraduates in plant research and has hosted cacao scientists from 12 countries during extended scientific exchange programs. He holds a B.S in Botany from California State University-Humboldt, and a Ph.D. from the University of California-Irvine.  (guiltinanlab.cas.psu.edu). He pursued postdoctoral training at Texas A&M University, the Univ. of North Carolina and inside industry, after which he joined the faculty at Penn State University in 1991 as a member of the Horticulture Department.  His research has explored the molecular basis of plant development and applications of plant science to crop improvement with funding from the US Dept. of Energy, National Science Foundation, Gates Foundation, USDA, and from industry sponsors.  He has been the Director of the Penn State Endowment for the Molecular Biology of Cacao since 1995, Chairman of the International Group for the Genetic Improvement of Cacao since 2003 and serves as Director of the Plant Science Center of the Penn State Huck Institute of the Life Sciences.  Dr. Guiltinan teaches undergraduates and graduates in plant biotechnology and plant science research and has hosted visiting scientists from cocoa producing countries such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Brazil and Malaysia.  Visit http://guiltinanlab.cas.psu.edu Dr. Guiltinan participated in the sequencing of the cocoa genome, which has revolutionized the field of cocoa improvement for enhanced disease resistance, yield and quality. Research into the flavonoids, lipids and other pathways in cacao aim at developing new varieties with added value nutritive qualities. His lab is exploring the genetics of mineral uptake in cacao and other species with the goal to reduce the uptake and accumulation of undesirable heavy metals in plant products such as cadmium and aluminum.

Day Two

Thursday 13th December 2018

10:10 am | CRISPR/Cas9-Mediated Genome Editing of the Tropical Tree Crop Theobroma Cacao for Enhanced Disease Resistance

Paul Skroch
Vice President, Data Science and Platform Engineering
Benson Hill Biosystems

Paul joined Benson Hill in 2016 as Vice President of Data Science and Platform Engineering overseeing the data science and systems biology groups as well as software development. Paul brings over two decades of experience in genetics, breeding, data science and enterprise platform design to support Benson Hill’s rapid growth in advanced analytics and digital platform strategies.  Prior to joining Benson Hill, Paul served as director of R&D information technology analytics at Monsanto where he developed and led the company’s first advanced analytics team, inventing solutions using machine learning, pipeline simulation, geospatial analytics and operations research. These discoveries transformed Monsanto’s discovery, development and manufacturing pipelines and set the stage for the future of data science at Monsanto. Skroch held prior leadership positions developing systems for genotyping, molecular and predictive breeding, pipeline analysis and advancement. Paul completed his postdoctoral training at Washington University, Saint Louis. He earned his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and his B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison

Day Two

Thursday 13th December 2018

11:10 am | Leveraging Data and AI in CropOS to Accelerate Innovation in Food and Crops

Mitch Abrahamsen
Executive Vice President, Chief Commercial & Scientific Officer
Acceligen

Previously to joining Recombinetics, Dr. Abrahamsen was the Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Cobb-Vantress for Tyson Foods, Vice President of Research at Hill’s Pet Nutrition for Colgate-Palmolive, Vice President of Research and Development, Chief Scientific Officer of Pyxis Genomics, Inc, and a professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology and Director of Graduate Studies, Molecular Veterinary Biosciences at University of Minnesota. Dr. Abrahamsen received a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Washington.

Day Two

Thursday 13th December 2018

1:40 pm | Gene Editing Solutions for Improved Animal Welfare and Heat Tolerance in Cattle

Bridget Preiss
Research Manager
Arcadia Biosciences

Bridget Preiss has been with Arcadia Biosciences for more than 14 years. After nine years at the molecular biology lab bench, she managed laboratory evaluations for the regulatory department. Most recently she has been leading the development and optimization of Arcadia’s gene editing technologies. Bridget still tries to spend as much time at the lab bench as possible. She holds a BS in Genetics from UC Davis

Day Two

Thursday 13th December 2018

2:10 pm | Using CRISPR to Supplement TILLING in Development of Next Generation Gene Edited Crops

Jeff Rosichan
Director, Crops of the Future Collaborative
Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR)

Dr. Rosichan earned his doctorate in genetics and cell biology at Washington State University and did postgraduate work at University of California, Davis.   He joined FFAR in January 2018 as the inaugural Director of the Crops of the Future Collaborative.  Jeff brings 30 years of agriculture industry experience as a senior R&D executive with significant management, scouting and early stage milestone development expertise.