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Charles Abbas

Charles received a B.S. in Microbiology from the U of Minnesota, an M.S. in Microbiology from the U. of Montana and completed a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Cell Science at the U. of Florida (Gainesville). He has over 30 years of experience in industrial biotechnology first working at Difco R & D in Ann Arbor, MI as a senior scientist, and as a group leader, manager and until recently the Director of Yeast and Renewables Research at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Decatur, IL. Since retiring from ADM, Charles established a start up, IBiocat Inc, at the U of Illinois Research Park at Enterprise Works Incubator facility. IBiocat Inc focuses on the development, validaton, optimization and scale up of advanced biorefinery solutions in industrial biotechnology

Dr. Abbas is the author of over 100 abstracts, scientific articles, book chapters, review articles, patents and patent applications. In April of 2016, Charles was awarded the Charles D. Scott for his contributions to the use of biotechnology for the production of fuels and chemicals. In June 2016, he was also awarded the BBI FEW Award of Excellence for his contributions to fuel ethanol. the Dr. Abbas is considered a leading expert in yeast, large-scale industrial fermentations, and biorefining. Charles is credited for proposing the widely used biorefinery term in early 1990s to illustrate the bioprocessing of commodity crops to high value added products. His areas of expertise include: industrial biotechnology; fungal chemistry and biochemistry; biomass conversion; advanced biofuels and chemicals; bioprocessing of commodity crops and their residues to produce high value-added products; development of yeast strains for industrial fermentations; large-scale fermentation production of ethanol, polymers, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, carotenoids and organic acids using bacterial, fungal, and algal systems.

Rhea Sammons

Dr. Rhea Sammons has worked within the research division at Archer Daniels Midland Company for the past nine years.  During her time at ADM, she has been involved in a variety of projects including but not limited to; carbon capture and sequestration of CO2; the fractionation of corn stover by an integrated biorefinery; the commissioning and validation of a pilot scale membrane solvent extraction system for ethanol in collaboration with 3M; and rapeseed meal detoxification and protein enhancement by solid state fermentation.  Dr. Sammons is currently working on developing a predictive and interactive mass balance model around the starch separation process for one of ADM’s wet mills. 

Dr. Sammons completed a B.S. and M.S. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Tennessee.  She then completed a postdoc at the University of Tennessee Center for Renewable Carbon where she focused on spinning carbon fiber precursors from cellulose as well as lignin. 

Roger Theisen
Roger Theisen is business manager for specialty corn at Pioneer, a brand of Corteva Agriscience. Roger has held various roles in production agriculture since 1993 including crop protection, seed, and digital ag. In his current role, Roger works with wet and dry grain mills, distillers, alkaline cookers, and various grain companies and end-use stakeholders on all aspects of corn from field to a quality supply for food and industrial uses. Roger graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. degree in Agriculture Business and currently lives in Des Moines, Iowa.

Zhi-Yuan Chen

Dr. Zhi-Yuan Chen is a Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and Crop Physiology, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. He received his B. S and M. S degrees from Peking University, P. R. China, and his Ph D degree from Department of Plant Biology, Louisiana State University. He started working on reducing aflatoxin contamination in maize (corn) since 1996 first through identifying host resistance related proteins and genes using proteomics and RNAi interference at Southern Regional Research Center, USDA-ARS in New Orleans as a post-doctorate before taking the faculty position at LSU Agricultural Center. His current areas of research interests are: (1) to understand host-fungus interactions between maize and Aspergillus flavus, the fungus that produces aflatoxins during infection of susceptible crops; between soybean and Phakopsora pachyrhizi, the causal agent of soybean rust; and between soybean and Cercospora kikuchii, the pathogen causing Cercospora leaf blight; and (2) to develop strategies to enhance host resistance in maize and soybean to these fungal diseases. He applies various molecular techniques, such as proteomics, genomics, and lately next generation sequencing to identify host proteins/genes that are important for resistance to fungal infection and/or toxin production as well as genes from the pathogens that are important for infecting, colonizing host plants and producing toxic secondary metabolites. In addition, he is currently exploring novel approaches, such as Host Induced Gene Silencing (HIGS) and bio-pesticides, to reduce fungal infection and toxin production in maize and soybean.  The long-term goal is to enhance host resistance through upregulation of key resistance-related genes or through suppression of fungal growth or infection via HIGS or bio-pesticides. 



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Dennis Miller

Dennis Miller is a professor of chemical engineering at Michigan State University, where he has been on the faculty since 1982. His research interests include heterogeneous catalysis, reaction engineering, and advanced separations, primarily directed at the conversion of bio-based substrates to value-added fuels and chemicals. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering at the University of Toledo in 1977 and Ph.D. degree at the University of Florida in 1982.

Nathan Fields

Nathan Fields

Director of Biotechnology and Crop Inputs

National Corn Growers Association

Nathan has been with the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) since 2004 and currently is responsible for the Biotechnology, Economic Analysis, and Crop Protection programs within the organization.  NCGA’s Biotechnology and Crop Input programs focus on responsible stewardship of new and existing products in the corn industry. Trade and Economic efforts include broad analysis of current and future conditions and how they will affect growers, end use markets, and other aspects of the agricultural industry.

Prior to his employment with NCGA Nathan worked in the Bio-Pharmaceutical industry managing Research and Development, Production and Process Development of pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical excipients, custom bulk molecule synthesis, protein/DNA extraction and purification.   His post-undergraduate work included involvement with the private sector effort on sequencing the human genome.

Nathan graduated from the University of Illinois with a B.S. in biology from the University of Illinois and completed his masters in business administration (MBA) from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville.  


Fred Yoder

Fred Yoder is a 4th generation farmer who has lived and farmed near Plain City, Ohio for over 45 years. Along with his wife Debbie and his 2 children, he grows corn, soybeans, and wheat on his farm of 1500 acres. He also has operated a retail farm seed business for over 40 years.

Fred has served as president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). He has also served for many years in the Ohio Corn Growers Association in various leadership positions.

Fred has traveled many times to the European Union to speak about co-existence of production systems, where both organic and other production systems can thrive side by side as neighbors.  As a founding board member of the "Solutions from the Land Alliance" he is working and serving as Chair of the "North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance," representing all factions of production agriculture, and which is striving to ensure that farmer-to-farmer education and economics will be the driving force to adapting to feeding the world while dealing with a changing climate.  

Fred is also currently serving on the Trump Agriculture Advisory Committee, which gives guidance to the Administration in matters important to farmers, helping to ensure the interests of producers are heard, and to encourage common sense policy initiatives important to the health and well-being of our country's agriculture sector.


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Martha Marie Vaughan

Martha Marie Vaughan Ph.D.



Martha Vaughan is a molecular biologist with interdisciplinary training in plant stress physiology, defense signaling, and secondary metabolism. Her research focuses on how climate affects crop-fungal pathogen interactions in a manner that influences downstream mycotoxin production and grain contamination. She has expertise in evaluating the response of plants to combined abiotic and biotic stress factors. Her work has led to the identification, molecular characterization and functional elucidation of multiple novel defense metabolites. She has contributed to the understanding of how climate changes will effect crop susceptibility to Fusarium pathogens and mycotoxins. She has also been involved in the development of methods necessary to conduct climate change research including a plant culturing method that enables long term plant growth at a consistent level of drought. Through the evaluation of phenomena that naturally regulate mycotoxin production she seeks to identify sustainable and climate resilient strategies to eliminate mycotoxin contamination in grain and enhance food safety.

As a born and bred Hokie, Martha received both her BSc (2004) and PhD (2010) from Virginia Tech. She then conducted postdoctoral research with the USDA-ARS Chemistry Unit at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville FL. In 2013, she joined the Bacterial Foodborne Pathogens & Mycology Research Team at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, IL to pursue research on the effects of climate change on mycotoxin contamination of grain crops.  


Baozhu Guo

As a Research Plant Pathologist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Tifton, GA, Dr. Baozhu Guo serves as a lead scientist and conducts complex, multidisciplinary research that focuses on the responses of agricultural crops to biotic and abiotic stresses, particularly the elimination of aflatoxin contamination in corn and peanuts through genetic improvement of resistance.  Dr. Guo has been performing research for 30 years, and his creativity and consistent research productivity have been thoroughly documented by over 160 research publications and over 300 abstracts. Over his 20 years with ARS, Dr. Guo has developed a strong regional, national, and international reputation as a leader in the scientific community in elucidating disease resistance mechanisms in corn and peanut and released several corn inbred lines with improved resistance, and developed peanut mapping populations as community resources for genetic and genomic research. He was the recipient of 2014 US Peanut Industry Research and Education Award and 2017 Outstanding Senior Research Scientist at The University of Georgia Tifton Campus.

"Guo, Baozhu" <Baozhu.Guo@ARS.USDA.GOV>

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Vijay Singh

Biography - Dr. Vijay Singh is a Professor in Food and Bioprocess Engineering and Associate Director of Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  His research is on development of bioprocessing technologies for corn/biomass to ethanol, advanced biofuels, food and industrial products.  Dr. Singh has directed or codirected more than $130 million research, authored more than 200 publications and holds ten patents related to corn processing and biofuels production.  He has received numerous excellence in research awards from professional societies, academic institutions and trade organizations.  He received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Food and Bioprocess Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Brent Shanks


Dr. Brent Shanks is an Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering and the Mike and Jean Steffenson Chair of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Iowa State University.  He established and serves as Director of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC).  After receiving his B.S. degree from Iowa State University in 1983, he completed his Ph.D. degree at the California Institute of Technology in 1988.  From 1988 to 1999 he worked as a Research Engineer and Department Manager in the Catalyst Department at the Shell Chemical Company technology center in Houston, Texas.  He joined the faculty at Iowa State University in 1999 where his group’s research has primarily involved novel heterogeneous catalyst systems for efficiently converting biological-based feedstocks to chemicals and fuels.

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Jay-lin Jane

Dr. Jay-lin Jane is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of Agriculture and Life Sciences in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University.  Through her career, Dr. Jane has conducted research on starch structure, properties and applications, ethanol production from starch, and biopolymer-based plastics.  

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Joe Rich

Dr. Joseph Rich has been the Research Leader for the Renewable Products Technology Research Unit (RPT) at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria, IL since 2007.  Dr. Rich received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Iowa State University and a Ph.D. in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from the University of Iowa.  In 1996, he joined several colleagues in developing Combinatorial Biocatalysis as a drug discovery platform at EnzyMed.  He remained with Albany Molecular Research after their acquisition of EnzyMed to continue leading the Synthetic Biocatalysis group until December, 2004.  In 2005-2006, he served as both the founding Director of the Northwestern University High Throughput Analysis Facility and as Senior Research Scientist with Baxter Healthcare.  His research has focused on the development of enzymes as practical catalysts for synthetic chemistry.  He is the author of over 75 original research papers, reviews, book chapters, patents, and technical publications.

Chris Maragos

Chris Maragos

Chris currently serves as a Lead Scientist in the Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology Research Unit at the USDA-ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria, IL. Before coming to USDA, he received his doctorate from Cornell University, and served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Cancer Institute. He is a member of the Editorial Boards of the journal Food Additives and Contaminants, Mycotoxin Research, and the World Mycotoxin Journal. He has served in various capacities within the AOAC International and is an AOAC Fellow.   His research interests involve the development of new technologies and materials for the detection of mycotoxins in foods.

Patrick Westfall

Patrick Westfall completed his PhD in Botany from the University of Georgia in 2001.  After post-doctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco and the University of California Berkeley he joined Amyris Biotechnologies in Emeryville, California in 2006.  While at Amyris, Patrick was a lead scientist for the development a microbial production platform for the  anti-malarial compound, Artemisinin. In 2012 Patrick joined Dow AgroSciences in Indianapolis, Indiana as a group leader for R&D in the Advanced Technology Development group focused on enabling targeted genome editing for agricultural row crops.  Since November 2015, Patrick has been a Director of R&D at Zymergen (Emeryville, CA) where he leads a group focused on rapid prototyping of new microbial production hosts for agriculture and industrial applications.


Gene Fox

Gene Fox has been with Cargill Corn Milling for 25 years, since graduating with a Ph.D. from the Agricultural Engineering Department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He is presently working for Cargill Global Operations Team after 24 years as a Senior Principal Research Scientist.   Responsible working in the areas of corn quality and millability evaluation, optimization of wet and dry milling unit operations. He is involved with intellectual property creation and development of training programs. He also travels internationally, performing plant evaluations and training. In his personal life, he is an avid downhill skier and scuba diver.

Peter Ojiambo

Dr. Ojiambo graduated with a BSc (Agriculture) and MS (Plant Pathology from the University of Nairobi and a PhD from the University of Georgia, Athens, USA in 2004. Following completion of his studies, he was hired as a post-doctoral fellow at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Ibadan, Nigeria, where he worked on diseases of corn, cassava, soybean and banana. He joined the Department of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University in 2008 where he is currently an Associate Professor. His research primarily focuses on the use of mathematical and statistical approaches to study disease dynamics in time and space and applies population ecological methods to study the biology of plant pathogens. His current research projects focus on the epidemiology and population biology of cucurbit downy mildew, Stagonospora nodorum blotch of wheat and biocontrol of aflatoxin contamination in corn. Dr. Ojiambo currently serves as the Chair of Graduate Admissions for Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University.

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Colin Crankshaw

Colin Crankshaw has been the Vice president of Dedert Corporation since 2012. Previously he worked for GEA Process Engineering.

He has worked in the starch, Food and Biofuels Industry  for 30 years. He received a BS Chemical Engineering from McGill University, Montreal in 1988.  He has worked in various functions including process design,  R&D and pilot plant,  Product and Business Development , Sales and Marketing. His specialties include Drying, Solids handling, Evaporation, Energy integration and Pollution control.

XinzhI Ni

As a Research Entomologist with the Crop Genetics and Breeding Research Unit, USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Tifton, GA, Dr. Xinzhi Ni serves as a lead scientist and conducts complex multidisciplinary research that focuses on genetic and ecological aspects of corn and sorghum plants in response to biotic and abiotic stresses under the hot and humid environmental conditions in the Southeastern Coastal Plain Region of the U.S.  In particular, the project was aimed to reduce aflatoxin contamination in corn through better understanding of genetics and ecology of corn plants and pests under the field conditions.  Dr. Ni has over 30 years of research experience, and his research has been documented by over 130 research publications. He has 96 refereed publications, 9 invited book/proceedings chapters, and 30 technical reports. In the last 14 years with ARS at Tifton location, Dr. Ni has developed a strong research program on developing new corn and sorghum germplasm with insect resistance and reduced aflatoxin accumulation and understanding insect and disease resistance mechanisms in corn and sorghum.


"Ni, Xinzhi" <Xinzhi.Ni@ARS.USDA.GOV>

Eric Schmelz

Dr. Eric Schmelz has been directly involved in uncovering the biochemical and genetic basis of induced plant defense responses to insects and pathogens for over 25 years. During this time, model plants have focused primarily on tobacco, spinach, beans and maize. Dr. Eric Schmelz completed his PhD with the Center for Insect Science/Plant-Insect Interactions Group at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He then continued mechanistic studies on plant-biotic interactions at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service located at the University of Florida, Gainesville. During this time he received an area wide Scientist of the Year (SOTY) Award in 2007. His research enabled the discovery of new plant-derived biochemical signals, receptors, and defense pathways that control crop plant interactions with both insects and microbes. A predominant focus in the past 10 years has been on the elucidation of previously unknown antifungal biochemical defense mechanisms in maize. Dr. Schmelz joined the Division of Biological Sciences as a full professor at the University of California, San Diego in July 2014 to enable the continuation of this research (https://biology.ucsd.edu/research/faculty/eschmelz).


"Schmelz, Eric" <eschmelz@ucsd.edu>

Jake Fountain

Dr. Jake Fountain serves as a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia, Tifton, GA, in the lab of Dr. Baozhu Guo and Dr. Bob Kemerait. Dr. Fountain’s research has focused on using “omics” to study the interaction of important agricultural crops including maize with Aspergillus flavus under environmental stress aimed at preventing aflatoxin contamination under drought stress. Currently, he is focusing on the use of transgenic and genome editing methods to enhance drought tolerance and reduce aflatoxin contamination in corn and peanut. A recent UGA graduate, Dr. Fountain has begun to establish a reputation for scientific productivity with 15 peer reviewed research publications and 30 abstracts. He is also the recipient of several awards for paper presentations from professional societies including the American Phytopathological Society (APS) and the American Peanut Research and Education Society (APRES).


"Jake Clayton Fountain" <jfount1@uga.edu>

Eli Borrego

Dr. Eli Borrego was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas. His undergraduate studies were at Texas A&M University-Kingsville and he received a PhD in Plant Pathology from Texas A&M University in 2014. After his graduate studies, he was hired as Postdoctoral Research Scholar in TAMU’s Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology and was recently promoted to Assistant Research Scientist. Eli works with Professor Michael Kolomiets exploring a group of poorly understood fatty acid derived hormones, known as oxylipins, in plant-pathogen and -insect interactions using maize as a model system. His expertise with mass spectrometry and deep understanding of oxylipin biology has helped the group secure $2M in research funding in the last two years alone. Since joining TAMU, Eli has helped train over 60 undergraduate, graduate, and international scholars in molecular plant pathology and entomology. He aspires to become a professor and continue to explore the chemistry underpinning plant-biotic interactions.

"Eli J. Borrego" <eli.borrego@gmail.com

Ashli Brown

Ashli E. Brown is the Mississippi State Chemist and Director of the Mississippi State Chemistry Laboratory (MSCL), and serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology.  The MSCL is a state appropriated regulatory agency for the State of Mississippi. The Lab provides the analytical data to ensure the quality, accurate labeling, and safety of all fertilizers, animal feeds, human foods, pesticides and petroleum products sold in the State.  Brown supervises 23 MSCL analysts, has 2 active graduate students, and advises 39 undergraduate students.  Her research group is using a system biology approach to identify and characterize factors in Aspergillus that control the degradation of aflatoxin for improved food safety.  Additionally, they are investigating are investigating the volatiles of Mp708, a line of maize resistant to feeding by fall armyworm in order to better understand the method of resistance.  Brown’s laboratory also uses an analytical approach to improve method development for regulatory testing. In 2008, Brown received the American Chemical Society, AGRO Division, National New Investigator Award and in 2010 she earned the Mississippi State Pride Award, additionally she holds a Certificate of Commission with the FDA.

Shon Van Hulzen
As Director of Quality Control for POET Shon Van Hulzen is responsible for the design, implementation, and management of the quality framework for POET’s network of 28 Biorefineries, including its newest cellulosic ethanol production site in Emmetsburg, IA. The quality control infrastructure includes policies, procedures, and accreditation processes for the feed, food, and fuel sectors of POET’s business. In this capacity, Shon serves as the leader for over 80 quality assurance professionals. In his 20 years with POET, Shon has seen the business grow from a few Biorefineries to a production network that now produces over 1.8 billion gallons of ethanol, 4.5 million tons of DDGS, and 500 million pounds of corn oil annually. Shon is an officer of ASTM International and is involved with many other ethanol industry technical venues. Shon is also an inventor on several POET patents, most notably the Raw Starch patent which is POET’s proprietary low temperature hydrolysis process. Shon holds a BA in Chemistry from Dordt College and an MBA from the University of Sioux Falls.
Timothy Norden

Dr. Timothy Norden


Dr. Timothy Norden is an analytical chemist and Chief Scientist for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Federal Grain Inspection Service and is responsible for the methods development and quality assurance programs that support the official quality and safety testing of cereals, oilseeds, and related agricultural products.  Dr. Norden has earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in physical-organic chemistry.  He has over 27 years of experience in developing and implementing analytical methods and quality assurance programs for mycotoxins, pesticide residues, heavy metals, and biotechnology events in cereal grains and oilseeds.  He has given numerous invited presentations on analytical methods and quality assurance programs for the analysis of a wide range of mycotoxins.  He is the U.S. Alternate Delegate to the Codex Alimentarius Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling and a panel member of the United States – Japan Joint Panel on Toxic Microorganisms.

Matthew Stasiewicz
Matthew Stasiewicz is an Assistant Professor of Applied Food Safety in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  His work focuses applying engineering and data analytic approaches to advance food safety microbiology.  Most relevant to the CUTC meeting, some of this work is developing multi-spectral imaging to identify mycotoxins in corn, to eventually enable toxin-specific in-line sorting.

He went to Michigan State University for undergraduate study, earning both a B.S. in Biosystems Engineering, focusing on food process engineering, and a B.A. in Philosophy, focusing on ethics.  He then studied at Cornell, receiving an M.S. and Ph.D. in food microbiology, working on risk analysis in microbial food safety.  He has also worked on international teams to develop appropriate technology to manage mycotoxins in Kenyan maize, with his passion being single-kernel sorting strategies using relatively simple hardware.  

Mark Busman

As a Research Chemist with the Mycotoxin Prevention and Applied Microbiology Unit, USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Peoria, IL, Dr. Busman conducts multidisciplinary research that focuses on the reduction of mycotoxin contamination in corn and corn-based products. Dr. Busman has over 30 years of research experience, and his research has been documented by over 90 peer-reviewed research publications. In the last 13 years with ARS at the Peoria location, Dr. Busman has developed a research program on utilizing a variety of mass spectrometry techniques to improve the understanding of the production of fungal toxins in agricultural products and to mitigate their impact.

Renee Arias

Renée S. Arias

Molecular Biologist/Plant Pathologist


Ph.D.  Plant Pathology (Bacteriology) (1998)  University of Hawaii, USA.

M.S.   Plant Pathology (Bacteriology) (1994)  University of Hawaii, USA.

M.S.   Soil Microbiology (1990)  Univ. Nacional del Sur, Argentina.

B.S.   Agronomic Engineering (1983)  Univ. Santiago del Estero,  Argentina.

- USDA-ARS-SAA, Research Pathologist, Peanut diseases with focus on Aflatoxin. 2011-present

Recent Awards

  • Early Career Scientist of the Year for the USDA-ARS-SAA, (2013)
  • Presidential Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) (2014)

-     Two patent applications

-     Obtained more than $ 1M in grants as principal investigator

-     International Collaborations with Uganda, Mexico, Ethiopia, Kenya, Brazil, Argentina and Malawi

Monica Schmidt

Monica Schmidt is an Assistant Professor in the School of Plant Sciences in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and the BIO5 Institute at the University of Arizona. She received a PhD in Genetics from the University of British Columbia and then post-doctorate positions at the University of Georgia and USDA/at the Danforth Plant Science Center. Dr. Schmidt’s research interests are in both functional foods and functional genomics.  Her research aims at applying molecular biology and genetic techniques to help alleviate major agricultural problems.  She works primarily in seed traits in the global commodities soybean and maize. Current research involves investigating cellular mechanisms to enhance the metabolic engineering efforts to fortify crops with nutraceutical carotenoids. Dr. Schmidt is also investigating means to engineer a healthier oil as soybean oil is a major component in the American diet.  Other functional food projects aim at the suppression of deleterious compounds in crops, such as toxins produced from contaminating fungus, in maize and peanuts.  She uses techniques of genomics and plant biotechnology in crops to investigate gene function, at a cellular and entire plant level. 


Tom Binder

Thomas Binder Ph.D., was Senior Vice President of Research at Archer Daniels Midland Co aand is currently retired.  He joined ADM in 1986 as a research scientist and has held various management positions in process development and fermentation research.

Dr. Binder holds B. S. degrees in biology and chemistry from Fort Hays State University and a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry from Iowa State University.   He also has post doctoral experience in medicinal chemistry from the University of Iowa.

Dr. Binder has carried out research in a variety of areas while at ADM and has developed processes for the manufacture of high purity dextrose, lysine, and tocopherols.  He is author or co-author of 41 patents and applications and 10 peer reviewed publications.   He led the Biomass Team for the NPC report on Energy Supply by 2030 for the DOE. He served on the Federal Advisory Committee for Biomass Research from 2002 to 2008 and led the subcommittee developing the 2007-2008 Vision Statement and the Roadmap for Biomass Research as required by Congress.  He served on the Board of the Decatur Public Schools Foundation, was an advisory member of the Decatur Education Coalition, served on the National Corn to Ethanol scientific advisory board, and is chair of the advisory board of the CenUSA program at Iowa State University (Agriculture and Food Research

Initiative Competitive Grant No. 2011-68005-30411).


Pierce Paul

Dr. Pierce A. Paul is a Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at The Ohio State University, with research (60%) and extension (40%) responsibilities for diseases of field crops. Paul’s primary research interest is epidemiology and integrated management of diseases of field crops, primarily corn and small grains. He is particularly interested in the use of statistical and computer models to describe plant disease dynamics in the field and to make disease management decisions based on risk assessment and disease predictions. He has researched and published on various aspects of the epidemiology and integrated management of foliar and ear/spike diseases and associated mycotoxins. He is a leading member of several multi-state teams of researchers responsible for developing and validating risk assessment systems and integrated management strategies for corn and wheat diseases. He has published extensively on the use of a statistical technique called meta-analysis to interpret results from disease management trials and to evaluate the economic benefit of fungicide use in corn and wheat.



Naresh Magan

Professor Magan holds the Chair in Applied Mycology at Cranfield University. He is Head of the Applied Mycology Group in the Environment and AgriFood Theme. He has been carrying out research on food security/safety and spoilage moulds for 35+ years. Current research focusses on impacts of climate change factors on the molecular ecology and ecophysiology of mycotoxigenic fungi in staple cereals, especially maize. He is involved in the development of resilient minimisation and prevention strategies for mycotoxins in a range of food commodities including biocontrol. He has published widely in this research area with 275+ peer-reviewed papers.

Home page: https://www.cranfield.ac.uk/people/professor-naresh-magan-299815

E.mail: n.magan@cranfield.ac.uk

LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/naresh-magan-aa351229

Twitter: @cranmycology

Matthew Gilbert

Matthew Gilbert, PhD. is a Research Biochemist with the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, and conducts research at the Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Gilbert’s research at the USDA began in 2011 in the Cotton Fiber Bioscience Research Unit and focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms controlling favorable fiber structure and quality. In 2013 he joined the Food and Feed Safety Research Unit where his research focuses on understanding and combating pre-harvest aflatoxin contamination by the saprophytic fungus Aspergillus flavus. His initial work included characterizing the metabolic and transcriptional regulation of development and toxin production by a global transcription factor, and the application of RNAi technology for imparting crop resistance. Other projects are aimed at identifying the gene networks involved in biocontrol effectiveness and microbiome-pathogen-host interactions. Recently, Dr. Gilbert and colleagues have initiated studies using transcriptomics, metabolic profiling and morphological analysis to study the impact of environmental factors on fungal development and host plant resistance. These studies are aimed at mitigating aflatoxin contamination in food and feed crops, with specific efforts towards anticipating the challenges presented by near-future environmental conditions.

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Kevin Hicks

Kevin Hicks, Ph.D. is the former Research Leader of the Sustainable Biofuels and CoProducts Research Unit of the Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC), ARS, USDA in Wyndmoor (suburban Philadelphia) PA. At ERRC, where he worked for 34 years, Kevin led a team of 35 scientists and engineers conducting research to develop sustainable biofuels and bio-products from agricultural commodities, energy crops, crop residues, and agricultural byproducts. The research included work on biodiesel, fuel ethanol, pyrolysis-derived advanced biofuels, and numerous food, feed, nutraceutical, and non-food bio-products as well as the economic and life cycle analyses needed to support these research efforts. Dr. Hicks is the author of over 170 peer-reviewed publications, 16 patents, and approximately 70 other technical publications as well as hundreds of presentations to national and international audiences. He has won 13 major awards for his work, including a 2013 Award of Research Excellence from the Fuel Ethanol Industry and a 2010 Technology Transfer Award from ARS/USDA for helping to develop a new advanced biofuel, winter barley ethanol, which led to the construction of a 65 million gallon per year winter barley ethanol production facility in Hopewell Virginia. In 2014 Kevin was made a Fellow of the American Chemical Society. Kevin’s collaborations include numerous University collaborators such as Virginia Tech, University of IL, University of Nebraska, Mississippi State University, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Drexel University, and University of Delaware, where he is an Adjunct Full Professor. His industrial collaborators have included ADM, Cargill, Genencor/DuPont, ZTrim Holdings, Osage Bio Energy, National Starch and Chemical Co, Monsanto, Prairie Gold, Eggland’s Best and many more. Dr. Hicks has served as Chairman of the Carbohydrate Division of the American Chemical Society and in several other professional societies. Kevin is President of the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, the oldest agricultural society in the USA (founded in 1785). 

 Google Scholar Publication Citations: http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=BPlhle8AAAAJ

Kevin was born in Southeast Missouri and received his BS (Chemistry, 1974), MS (Agricultural Chemistry, 1976), and PhD (Biochemistry, 1979) from the University of Missouri-Columbia. 

Gregory Phillips

Dr. Gregory Phillips is a Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State University.  Dr. Phillips participates in genomic and metagenomic studies involving multi-institutions to understand the interaction between microbiota and host.  Research efforts include use of gnotobiotic mouse models to identify genes important for colonization and survival in the GI environment, including inflammation and cancer.  

Richard Pratt

Rich Pratt is a professor of plant breeding and director of the Cropping Systems Research Innovation Program at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  Rich works with native crops and plant genetic resources from the Southwest to preserve and expand their role in future desert cropping systems.  Current research also emphasizes food and nutritional qualities of blue and white corn.  He is internationally recognized for his earlier work with host-resistance to foliar pathogens, and introgression of desirable traits from exotic germplasm into temperate zone maize.  Rich has provided leadership to several organizations, and has chaired the CSSA science policy committee.

Pat Heist

Dr. Heist is well known in the fuel and beverage ethanol industries for his problem solving skills relative to the microbiology and biochemistry of fermentation and overall process experience. Education includes B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Kentucky in Plant Pathology and microbiology-related fields. Heist currently serves as Co-Owner and Chief Scientific Officer for Ferm Solutions, Inc. based in Danville, Kentucky, a provider of yeast and fermentation products, technical support and training to the fuel and beverage ethanol industries. Dr. Heist and his research team collaborate with industrial and academic partners on projects related to controlling bacterial contamination during ethanol production and yeast strain selection and improvement. In 2013, Ferm Solutions expanded its operations and formed Wilderness Trail Distillery, which produces a variety of craft-distilled spirits including Wilderness Trail Kentucky Straight Bourbon and Rye Whiskies, Blue Heron Vodka and Harvest Rum.

Elizabeth Summer
Dr. Elizabeth Summer received her PhD in 1994 for research in the field of Plant Viral Synergism in the lab of Dr. Vicki Vance.  Her postdoctoral training included the study of chloroplast development and thylakoid membrane protein targeting pathways the lab of Dr. Ken Cline at the University of Florida.  In 2002, Dr. Summer accepted a position in the lab of Dr. Ry Young at Texas A&M University, where she was instrumental in setting up the Center for Phage Technology, with an emphasis on the study of phages active against plant and animal pathogenic bacteria including Burkholderia, Xylella, and Rhodococcus.  Dr. Summer’s bioinformatic analysis in the then novel field of phage genomics lead to her discovery of classes of phage proteins called “spanins” that promote bacterial lysis as a result of directly connecting the inner and outer bacterial membranes.  In 2008, Dr. Summer co-founded Ecolyse, a biotechnology company focused on developing products for microbial control in industries such as oil and gas and biofuel fermentation.  It was through a SBIR funded project for developing phage products to control lactic acid bacteria during corn ethanol biofuel fermentation that she had the privilege of meeting, and collaborating with, Dr. Ken Bischoff.  
Peter Keeling

Peter L Keeling (PhD) is Director of the Innovation Program at the NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC), based at Iowa State University. Peter has over 30 years of R&D and management experience in the biotechnology and biorenewables sector. Peter received his PhD and BS degrees in Biochemistry from the Council for National Academic Awards, UK. After his postdoctoral research, Peter worked for the R&D division of ICI/Zeneca in what is now Syngenta, was a Founder and Research Director of ExSeed Genetics and then became Unit Research Director of a division of BASF Plant Science. He is also co-founder of multiple startup companies in the bioproducts space. In 2009 Peter took his current role at the interface of academia and industry when CBiRC became fully operational. As well as working closely with CBiRC's industry members, Peter teaches entrepreneurship and runs the BioBased Foundry, a startup mentoring program.

Alex Buck

Alex Buck is a native of Iowa growing up in Cedar Rapids.  He has been at Iowa Corn for 3 years as the Industrial Innovation Manager where he manages the new uses research, develops and implement IP strategy, and commercializes new chemicals, fuels, and plastics.  Alex attended Iowa State where he received is bachelors in chemistry and PhD in Organic Chemistry.  He has previous experience in technology scouting bringing together companies and research in academia through open innovation.

Eric Karp

Eric Karp is a Chemical Engineer in the National Bioenergy Center (NBC) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). His work focuses on downstream process development for renewable specialty and commodity chemicals. Specific research interests include:

Nitriles and amine-based products
Separations in bioprocesses
Analytical tools for complex sample analysis
Chemical process automation
Clean technology commercialization

Ali Hussain Motagamwala
Ali Hussain Motagamwala was born in India and received a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, India in 2011. Then he moved to Toronto where he earned a master’s degree from the University of Toronto, focusing on fluid flow in low Reynolds’ number regime. Currently, Ali Hussain is working towards earning a PhD degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison under the tutelage of Professor James Dumesic. His doctoral work has focused on developing processes for conversion of lignocellulosic biomass to fuels and value added chemicals. 
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Richard Gell

Richard Gell graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.  Richard is pursuing his Doctorate in Genetics at North Carolina State University studying under Dr. Ignazio Carbone.  His research approaches understanding of Aspergillus flavus biology through examination of first generation progeny strains from controlled sexual crosses. He is currently developing the tools for genetic mapping in three sexual crosses, which include the major biocontrol strains, in order to understand the effects one generation of genetic exchange have on recombination as well as create panels of isolates which can be used for association mapping of A. flavus characteristics.

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Jane Marian Luis

Jane Marian Luis graduated from the University of the Philippines Los Baños with Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. She took her MS in Plant Pathology from the University of Georgia, studying about drought stress phenotyping and aflatoxin contamination in peanuts. Marian is now pursuing her PhD in Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University. Her research aims to characterize the process of fertilization within the sclerotia of Aspergillus flavus in order to determine methods that can improve the efficacy of biocontrol agents in the field. She is also interested in characterizing a locally-selected A. flavus strain for potential use as biocontrol agent against aflatoxin contamination in corn fields.

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Megan Molo

Megan Molo graduated from Coker College with a Bachelor of Arts in molecular and cellular biology. Megan is pursuing her doctorate degree in plant pathology at North Carolina State University under the direction of Dr. Ignazio Carbone. Her research focuses on understanding how biological control of Aspergillus flavus impacts the underlying population dynamics of A. flavus and other mycotoxin producing fungi. She is currently working to track the fate of the current biocontrol strains in corn fields from four different geographic regions in the United States over the course of two years to better understand how biocontrol reduces aflatoxin contamination and develop novel strategies that are sustainable for long-term reduction of aflatoxins.

Chuck Hill

Chuck Hill Bio                 AgriGold Hybrids                                  3/14/2018

Chuck Hill is the Specialty Products Manager for AgriGold Hybrids, a division of AgReliant Genetics LLC. AgriGold is a leader in premium corn markets through Chuck’s direction the past twenty years. Chuck started with AgriGold in 1987 in sales after five years with Monsanto. He is a 1982 graduate of Illinois State University with a BS in Agribusiness, where he is also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity. He grew up on a family grain farm in Central Illinois where he learned the value of hard work. His work as Specialty Products Manager involves interacting with corn buyers and processors to identify hybrids that benefit their process. This gives AgriGold customers the opportunity to capture those premiums adding value to their operations. Chuck and his wife, Renee, live near Jacksonville IL where they have raised three sons who are currently in college or have started their careers. He spent many enjoyable years watching and coaching his sons and other kids in various sports. As a Kiwanis member, Chuck now spends his spare time working on projects that help the children of Jacksonville. Being a lifelong Cubs fan has helped Chuck understand how to endure the tough times and enjoy the great ones, 2016. Professionally Chuck is a Certified Crop Advisor(CCA) and recently became a Sustainability Specialist (SSp) through the CCA program.  You can contact Chuck via email atchuck.hill@agrigold.com or on Twitter at @agold_chuck. 

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Jodi Pearson

Jodi is currently the Regional Merchandising Manager for Cargill’s Starches, Sweeteners and Texturizing facilities of Hammond, IN, Indianapolis, IN, and Paris, IL, helping oversee and lead the corn origination strategies for those facilities. Previous to her current role, Jodi worked within Cargill’s Agricultural Supply Chain enterprise on both the seed origination and meal sales side of the business in various merchandising roles. Having joined Cargill in 2002, Jodi has worked at five different Cargill locations during her tenure: West Fargo, ND, Sioux City, IA, Gainesville, GA, Shanghai, China, and Wayzata, MN. Jodi was born and raised on a small grain and beef cattle farm in southcentral North Dakota. Jodi received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration from Jamestown College (now University of Jamestown) in Jamestown, North Dakota. Jodi and her husband Matt live in Plymouth, MN with their four kids – Maggie (7), Kyle (5), Alex (3), & Luci (1).  

Chris Cook

Chris Cook heads Stewardship for Syngenta Seeds, NA. Syngenta is a leading agriculture company helping to improve global food security by enabling millions of farmers to make better use of available resources. Through world class science and innovative crop solutions, our 28,000 people in over 90 countries are working to transform how crops are grown. We are committed to rescuing land from degradation, enhancing biodiversity and revitalizing rural communities. To learn more visit www.syngenta.com and www.goodgrowthplan.com. Follow us on Twitter® at www.twitter.com/Syngenta

Chris earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy from South Dakota State University, in Brookings SD. Chris has held several different positions in his career including roles as an agronomist, both with Farmland Industries, Inc. and Syngenta, as well as several different management positions from his days in retail, to heading Agronomy for both the Seeds US business and the integrated Syngenta business in the US.  Chris joined the Enogen team in 2015 heading up Stewardship and Stakeholder Relations and now leads the Stewardship team for Syngenta Seeds NA.  Chris has been with Syngenta for 19 years.

Ken Dallmier

Ken Dallmier serves as President and Chief Operating Officer of Clarkson Grain Company, Inc. Clarkson Grain supplies grains and oilseeds throughout the year to clients in North and South America, Asia and the EU who demand identity preserved grain to their exacting standards. It offers products cleaned, sized, raw or processed, and traceable back to the producing farm for organic, non-GMO and conventional markets. Clarkson Grain contracts with farmers throughout the US Midwest to obtain specific organic and non-GMO hybrids and varieties that its clients want. Products made from organic raw materials provided by Clarkson Grain appear in almost every grocery store in the US.

Ken earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Illinois, and Ph.D. from Iowa State University. He has held management positions with his family business, Sturdy Grow Hybrids, Inc., as well as Syngenta Seeds, Inc., Agrible, Inc., and Clarkson Grain Company, Inc. He has served on the Board of Illinois Foundation Seeds, Inc. and is now serving on the Organic Trade Association’s Global Supply Chain Integrity Task Force.

Doug Miller

Mr. Doug Miller is currently the Chief Executive Officer at the Illinois Crop Improvement Association. Doug has been with Illinois Crop Improvement for almost 25 years. Over those years Doug has developed bioassay procedures for diseases and herbicides and implemented protein methods along with coordinating DNA testing. Doug is also a Registered Genetic Technologist and a past president of the Society of Commercial Seed Technologist. Doug has a Masters Degree in Plant Pathology from Kansas State University and an undergraduate degree in Botany from Eastern Illinois University. He is also an active member of the AACCI Molecular Biomarkers for Grain committee formally under ILSI. Doug has also traveled with the Sampling and Detection workshop group as part of the presentation team in Argentina, Brazil, Trinidad and Peru.  The Illinois Crop Improvement Association is an independent, not-for-profit organization designated by law as the seed certification agency in the State of Illinois. The association participates in the OECD Seed Schemes, National Seed Health System and the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies. Beyond seed certification the association operates a winter farm in Puerto Rico and in Illinois offers greenhouse, seed lab and grain lab services under an ISO/IEC 17025:2005 laboratory accreditation.

Angelica Bautista

Dr. Angelica Z. Bautista is a scientist at REG-Life Sciences based in South San Francisco, CA. She works on engineering Escherichia coli for industrial-scale production of specialty chemicals. Prior to joining REG in 2014, she obtained her Ph.D. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from University of California – Los Angeles, working on natural product biosynthesis.

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Jean-Philippe Tessonnier

Jean-Philippe Tessonnier is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Iowa State University and the Scientific Director of Sumatra Biorenewables LLC. He earned his Ph.D. degree from the University of Strasbourg, France, in 2005. He worked at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Germany from 2005 to 2010 and in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Delaware from 2010 to 2012. He then joined Iowa State University (ISU) as a faculty in 2012 and became a member of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals (CBiRC). In 2015, he co-founded Sumatra Biorenewables LLC to translate ISU technology for the production bio-advantaged polymers. Prof. Tessonnier has published over 70 peer-reviewed publications and is a co-inventor on 9 patents

Yi Tang

Yi Tang received his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering and Material Science from Penn State University.  He received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from California Institute of Technology under the guidance of Prof. David A. Tirrell.  After NIH postdoctoral training in Chemical Biology from Prof. Chaitan Khosla at Stanford University, he started his independent career at University of California Los Angeles in 2004.  He is currently the Chancellor Professor at the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UCLA, and holds joint appointments in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; and Department of Bioengineering.  His recent awards include the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Allan P. Colburn Award (2009), the American Chemical Society (ACS) Biochemical Technology Division (BIOT) Young Investigator Award (2011), the ACS Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (2012), the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2012), NIH DP1 Director Pioneer Award (2012) and the ACS Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry (2014). 

Mark A. Arnold

Mark Arnold is the Edwin B. Green Chair Professor of Laser Chemistry at the University of Iowa.  He earned his doctorate degree in analytical chemistry from the University of Delaware in 1982 and has since been a member of the faculty in the Department of Chemistry.  His research centers on the development of chemical sensors for real-time monitoring of complex biological systems.  At present, he serves as the Director of the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing (CBB) at the University of Iowa.  This campus-wide interdisciplinary research center advances basic and translational research associated with biocatalytic sciences. 

Nathan Mosier

Nathan S. Mosier is the Indiana Soybean Alliance -Soybean Utilization Professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. Dr. Mosier earned a B.S. in BioSystems Engineering from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Purdue University. Dr. Mosier was also a NSF-IGERT Ph.D. fellow in the Innovation Realization Laboratory at the Krannert School of Management.

Dr. Mosier has more than 15 years of experience in research related bioprocessing technology for transforming corn, soy, and cellulosics to biofuels and chemicals.  He is the author or co-author of  >60 journal publications, 7 book chapters, co-author of a textbook, and has been inventor on 7 awarded US and international patents.  Dr. Mosier's research addresses fundamental topics in bioprocessing with current projects in enzyme mimicking catalysts for transforming renewable resources to fuels and chemicals, cellulose pretreatment for biofuel and biochemical production, thermochemical conversion of cellulosics to fuels and value-added chemicals, and bioprocess simulation. Students from his research group work in biofuels, biocatalysis, pharmaceutical, and food industries applying engineering principles to solving challenges in sustainable manufacturing, health, and food.


Ron Cascone

Ron Cascone is a Principal in the Energy and Chemicals Advisory at Nexant, Inc. and a leader of the company’s broad and unique involvement in bio-renewables as well as being highly experienced conventional chemicals and fuels.  He is a chemical engineer with over 50 years of experience in the process industries.  Ron has led or assisted in many technical, economic, and business feasibility analyses and finance due diligence assignments across a wide range of industries and technologies, and mostly of late, in renewable chemicals, fuels, and polymers technology developments and first-of-a-kind projects.

Ron has a broad knowledge of the global chemical and energy industries, biofuels, renewable chemicals, and other bio-based materials, bio-based processing, agriculturally-related sustainable development strategies, and many other industrial and economic sectors. He has authored or advised on numerous Nexant multiclient reports on first generation and advanced liquid biofuels, including by gasification, fermentation, pyrolysis and chemical conversion. Chemicals examined include bio-alcohols, bio-olefins, bio-aromatics, terpenes, and other renewable chemicals from sugars, grains, biomass, solid and gaseous wastes, oilseeds and fats, algae, and bio-based feedstocks. He has studied waste disposal issues and technologies, including AD. He also is current on carbon reduction strategies and renewable energy.

Ron majored in chemical engineering at Manhattan College and Columbia University. He has authored many published articles and conference papers and holds two US patents in synfuels. 


Darrell Sparks

Darrell L. Sparks is an Associate Professor and the Undergraduate Coordinator of the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology at Mississippi State University.  Additionally, he is Associate State Chemist for the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory.  His research areas include remediation of agricultural products contaminated with mycotoxins, effect of dispersants used in oil spill cleanup efforts, incorporation of supercritical fluids in process chemistry, and chemical communication among endangered species.  Dr. Sparks is an active member of the American Chemical Society, the American Oil Chemists Society, and the Society of Research Administrators.  

Stephanie Ward

Dr. Stephanie Hill Ward grew up in Canton, North Carolina, a small town in the heart of Appalachia. She attended NC State and received her Bachelor’s of Science in Animal Science and Master’s of Science in Dairy Nutrition, under the advisement of Dr. Brinton Hopkins and Dr. Low Whitlow. In 2007, she completed her PhD at Virginia Tech under the advisement of Dr. Katharine Knowlton. Dr. Ward started as an assistant professor in Animal and Dairy Science at Mississippi State University in 2008 and was promoted to Associate professor in 2014. In 2016, Dr. Ward accepted a position as the state Dairy Extension Specialist at NC State University. While her primary responsibilities are extension focused, she also conducts applied research. In addition to reduced transfer of aflatoxin into milk of dairy cows, Dr. Ward has research interests in:

              Dairy heifer development

              Nutrient Management

              Heifer and lactating cow nutrition

              Grazing management

 At NC State, Dr. Ward is also the advisor to the Dairy Club and coaches the Dairy Challenge team.

 She’s married to an Engineer who has learned to tolerate her and is the owner of one very old, lazy brown dog.

Haibo Yao

Dr. Haibo Yao is currently an Associate Research Professor at Mississippi State University’s Geosystems Research Institute. Prior to joining Mississippi State University, he was with the Institute for Technology Development at Stennis Space Center, MS.  He earned his PhD in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His research interests are hyperspectral imaging, rapid contamination detection in grain, food safety, multivariate image processing, instrument development, and precision agriculture.

Erika Womack

Dr. Erika Womack serves as a postdoctoral researcher for the USDA-ARS Corn Host Plant Resistant Research Unit in Starkville, MS under Dr. Paul Williams. Dr. Womack’s work currently focuses on mapping QTL in populations that confer insect and Aspergillus flavus resistance in maize. For the continuation of her postdoctoral research, Dr. Womack hopes to apply various ‘omics’ techniques to elucidate host genes/proteins that are important for resistance to insect pests.

Rajtilak Majumdar

Dr. Raj Majumdar serves as a ‘Research Plant Pathologist’ (post-doctoral) at the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services (USDA-ARS), Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans, Louisiana (USA), in the lab of Dr. Jeff Cary. His B.S. (Genetics and Plant Breeding) and M.S. (Plant Physiology) degrees were from the State Agricultural Universities in West Bengal, India. He received a Ph.D. in ‘Plant Biology’ from the ‘University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire (USA) in 2011 under the supervision of Prof. Subhash Minocha. His dissertation work demonstrated how modification of a single major rate-limiting step of the polyamine biosynthetic pathway positively affects carbon and nitrogen assimilation, and overall growth and development in plants. After finishing his Ph.D., Dr. Majumdar accepted a post-doctoral position at the Washington State University where his work demonstrated the role of amino acid transporters in enhancing yield (quantitative and qualitative) in crop plants. His transition to plant-microbe interaction came when he accepted a post-doctoral position in grapevine powdery mildew resistance with the USDA-ARS, Agricultural Experimental Station at the Cornell University in Geneva, New York. He was successful in obtaining an extramural funding to enhance powdery mildew resistance in grapevine using genome editing approach during this time. His current work involves understanding and improving aflatoxin resistance in maize using host-resistant genes, RNAi technology, next generation sequencing, and characterization of Aspergillus flavus genes that regulate overall fungal virulence, development, and secondary metabolism.

Jeffrey Robert

Biography - Jeff joined Fluid Quip Process Technologies in November 2016 to support the deployment of a unique separation technology producing Clean Sugars. Bringing more than 35 years of extensive technology development, commercial implementation, and operations management background, he interfaces with Corporate, Operations, Investment and Technology firms to develop the most optimal configuration to meet commercialization needs.  Having spent roughly half of his career in manufacturing facilities, a hands-on problem solving approach with both teams and processes is second nature.  As a seasoned executive in the bioeconomy, Jeff has spent the last 20 years in First Gen ethanol, Cellulosic Technologies, and Biochemicals.  Jeff holds a BS Chemical Engineer (University of Wisconsin – Madison).

Joel Stone

Biography - Joel is the President of ConVergince Advisers, and serves as Executive Vice President of Lee Enterprises Consultants, the world’s premier bioeconomy consulting group. He has been a long-term visionary and respected leader in commercialization of industrial biotechnology. ConVergInce Advisers is focused on delivering “Visionary & Innovative Solutions” including commercialization assistance for advanced technology clients in renewable chemicals, biochemicals, biofuels, and agricultural and biobased ingredients for food and consumer products. Joel is the former President of Green Biologics Inc. Previously he was responsible for leading several biofuel companies to commercial success where he has built and started up nearly a half billion gallons of biofuel capacity. Joel holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic University; and an M.S. in Chemical and Biochemical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He serves as a Board Advisor for the Biorenewable Deployment Consortium; serves on the GC3 Startup Network Steering Committee; and serves on the Board of Directors of Fermentum.  http://www.convergince.com/

Sundeep Vani

Sundeep has 20+ years of experience in technical and leadership roles in the field of Industrial Biotechnology.  During this time, he has worked at the interface of R&D, operations, strategy development and commercial activities to help commercialize multiple new products and processes serving the food, feed and fuel and industrial chemicals markets.  He has a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Rice University and MBA from Northwestern University

Joaquin Alarcon

Joaquin Alarcon

With an international background in Europe, U.S. and Latin America, Joaquin Alarcon has more than 2 decades of experience managing large corporations and multi-million-dollar projects in the renewable energy, agribusiness, technology development, industrial construction and information technology sectors.  He has established new markets for new products around the world and served on the boards of directors of numerous companies.

Currently the owner and CEO of Catalyxx, Inc a technological company that transforms ethanol into higher value chemicals,  of ARC International, a boutique consulting company specializing in the development and financing of renewable energy projects and President and CEO of H2B2 USA, a company that is developing the hydrogen economy, Joaquin previously held top executive positions with several companies in Spain, Brazil, Missouri, Nebraska and California under the umbrella of the multinational Spanish company Abengoa S.A. and its subsidiary Abengoa Bioenergia S.A., beginning in 2000. 

Among his many accomplishments with Abengoa companies have been executing an agreement for a US$200 million project that became the largest ethanol facility in Spain; leading Brazilian operations that included 3 sugar mills with crushing capacity of more than 7 million tons of cane, sugar production of more than 500,000 tons and ethanol production of 180 million litres; and securing a $300 million high-voltage transmission line project in California.

Joaquin holds Masters degrees in Chemical Engineering and in Environmental Management and Engineering as well as an MBA.  Fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese, he has permanent resident status in Brazil and has dual US and Spanish citizenships.

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William Beeson

Will works as a research scientist at Corteva AgriSciences, the Agricultural Division of DowDupont.  He received a bachelors of arts in Chemistry at University of Florida and while there performed mechanistic enzymology research on substrate channeling in asparagine synthetase.  Will then moved to UC Berkeley to pursue a PhD in Chemistry and Chemical biology.  His thesis work focused on the oxidative depolymerization of cellulose by filamentous fungi, specifically using systems biology and biochemical approaches to better understand the role of polysaccharide monooxygenases and cellobiose dehydrogenase in cellulose metabolism.  In 2012, Will joined Dow Chemical in Michigan working on portable nucleic acid diagnostics in Core R&D.  In late 2013, Will moved to Indianapolis and joined an Agronomic Traits  group in Seeds Discovery where he developed metabolite analysis techniques for corn and discovered novel cytokinin biosynthetic enzymes in endophytic fungi.  In 2015, Will began working in the Input Traits group on Insect Resistance Trait Discovery for crop plants. 


Damien Brichant

Among other activities, Novasep is leading company in supplying smart processes and technologies for the sugar and sweeteners industries.

Damien Brichant is Vice President of Novasep Process Solutions, responsible Americas region.

Prior to that, he led Novasep activities for Asia Pacific region from Shanghai. Process engineer in his early years, he joined Applexion in 2003.

In particular, he designed and engineered number of projects worldwide in the field of sugar, sweeteners and dairy, either for complete turnkey plants, or specific purification process unit and participated to number of R&D developments, some of which having been patented.


Matt Williamson
Matt has 30 years of Process Engineering and Project Management experience in Food, Feed, Biofuels, Pharmaceuticals, Petrochemicals, Plastics, Surfactants, and Consumer Products. In addition to ADF’s Process Department Manager experience, his plant engineering background included three years as a field engineer at a major petroleum refinery, seven years as a process engineer and production manager for a major polymer resin manufacturer and ten years as a senior process engineer with Procter & Gamble, focusing on household detergents and chemicals.  He has directly managed sixteen engineers and multiple contract engineers. 
John Kwik

John Kwik is the founder and President of Fluid Quip Process Technologies and also holds the role of Chief Technology Officer, he has worked in the Corn Wet Milling, Ethanol, Pharma and Sugar Cane  Sectors for over 26 years and has built facilities in North America, Turkey, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Paraguay.  He holds a Chemical Engineering Degree from the University of Western Ontario and is a licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Ohio.  John founded Fluid Quip Process Technologies to develop and commercialize technologies that can aid Dry Mills and Sugar Cane Facilities to process corn and achieve similar advantages to a Corn Wet Mill.

Remington Kendall

Remington Kendall oversees Channel Partnerships at Granular, a software platform that helps growers better collect, organize and manage data. His career flows across the nutrient and food supply chains, ranging from product management at a life sciences seed start-up to the commercialization of more healthy and sustainable consumer focused human food products. Prior to Granular, he helped lead strategy and new market development at Simplot. He has degrees from Duke University, the Cornell Executive Education Produce Program, and the National FFA. Rem still helps manage the generational family farm and livestock operation in Idaho.

Wendell Rich

Wendell Rich is the Manager of Agricultural Operations for Ingredion Incorporated. In this role he supports breeding and agronomic testing in corn, potatoes, stevia, pulses, and cassava.    Wendell has over twenty years’ experience in pesticide and biotech registration with the EPA and USDA.  Ten years of his career was with Monsanto managing corn breeding nurseries and USDA compliance on corn, cotton, soybean, wheat, sugar beets, and alfalfa.  He led Innate potato stewardship while working for JR Simplot.  Currently he is working on Specialty Potato Starch projects and leading Starch Per Acre (SPA) agronomic testing.  Wendell holds an Associate degree in Botany from Ricks College, and Bachelor of Science/Masters of Science in Plant Science Agronomy from Utah State University. He is a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and lives in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Ute Galm

Ute Galm, PhD

Ute Galm is a Senior Scientist at Zymergen, a company that integrates automation, machine learning, and genomics to rapidly accelerate the pace of scientific advancement. Prior to joining Zymergen, Ute worked as a scientist and group leader at Dow AgroSciences on the development of fermentation derived insecticide and fungicide products. She graduated from the University of Tuebingen, Germany with a PhD degree in Pharmaceutical Biology and received her postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Ute is passionate about all aspects of natural product discovery and development for human health and other market applications. Ute can be reached at ugalm@zymergen.com.



Bart Plocher

Bart is currently the Regulatory Affairs and Quality Manager for POET-Nutrition. In this role he is responsible for ensuring communication on quality standards and practices across POET’s network of 28 biorefineries to their co-product customers and representing the organization’s regulatory interests both domestically and internationally.  Bart serves as the primary regulatory interface with several industry associations and helps champion the position of POET, its co-products, and the state of biofuels as a whole.  Professionally, he’s spent more than a decade in the animal health or feed space, focusing largely on livestock species.  He holds a BS in Molecular Biology/Biochemistry and an Med in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Idaho and a MS in Veterinary Microbiology from South Dakota State University.

Mike Bruscino

Mike Bruscino is the Global Director of Licensing for Scientific Design Company, Inc.
Scientific Design Company (SD) is the leader in the licensing of ethylene oxide/ethylene
glycol technology with more than 100 plants licensed worldwide. Mike has over thirty
five years’ experience in the chemical industry. During Mike’s time at Scientific Design
Company (SD) he has held several positions in R&D, Pilot Plant Supervision, Process
Development, Product Director, Catalyst Sales and Licensing. Recently Mike has focused
on the development of new products and provided Sales and Marketing services for the
commercialization of these products along with technical service to clients.

Over the last ten years, Mike has been involved in the licensing of SD’s ethanol to
ethylene oxide/ ethylene glycol and ethanol to ethylene technologies with several plants
designed, constructed and operating in China, Egypt and USA. The products produced by
SD’s ethanol based technologies are used in the growing bio-based PET bottles,
packaging and personal care products market.

Mike holds a Master of Science, Chemical Engineering from Manhattan College,
Bachelor of Science, Chemistry, Montclair State University and Bachelor of Science,
Biology, Seton Hall University and has published several articles such as Biorefineries:
Fact or Fiction (Hydrocarbon Processing, August 2009) and Ethanol to Monoethylene
Glycol (Hydrocarbon World, December 2010).

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Gabe Conaghan

Gabe Conaghan is senior manager, merchandising for Bunge’s North American Milling team.  In this role, he supports corn risk management and procurement programs for North America’s largest corn dry miller.  He has been a part of the Milling team for eight years and previously work on Bunge’s grain and oilseed trading desks.  He has a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural business from the University of Missouri and currently lives in St Louis.

John Hannon

Corn Utilization & Technology Conference

Dr. John R. Hannon has worked over 15 years in the both the oil industry working with Schlumberger in exploration and in the renewable fuel industry with Mascoma on cellulosic ethanol. His expertise is in process economics, scale-up, technical due diligence, and identifying critical technical areas for cost improvements. He has also severed as an independent technical due diligence expert for investment firms in renewable energy space. He holds a PhD in Engineering Sciences from Dartmouth College and BS and MS degrees in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University. As the Chief Operating Officer of Vertimass LLC, Dr. Hannon directs, administers, and coordinates internal operational activities to include successful advancement and scale-up of the technology, plant operations, partnering, and coordination. He assists the CEO in the development of Corporation’s goals that cover operations, financial performance, and growth of the business.


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Steve Lewis
Steve Lewis is Vice President of Innovation for POET. He joined POET in August 1998. Lewis’s primary focus while at POET has been on continued production advances in dry grind ethanol plants. Lewis has 36 years of experience in industrial biotechnology. He led the development of POET’s high gravity, patented BPXTM and BFRACTM processes, and helped establish POET’s Bio-Refinery platform. His current focus is on continued advances in dry grind ethanol. 
Prior to joining POET, Lewis spent 16 years with DuPont Genencor and predecessor companies working in a variety of technical roles, including Starch Applications Specialist at DuPont’s Cedar Rapids, Iowa location. 
Lewis received a B.S. in Microbiology from Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and a Master of Business Administration from Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio. He also studied Food Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois.
Lewis currently resides in Sioux Falls, S.D. with his wife Lisa. They have 3 children and 2 grandchildren. 
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David Bazzano

David Bazzano has worked for Scientific Design Company (SD) for over 10 years.  Scientific Design Company (SD) is the leader in the licensing of ethylene oxide/ethylene glycol technology with more than 100 plants licensed worldwide.  Starting as a Process Engineer, David worked on Process Design Packages for Ethylene Oxide and Ethylene Glycol from ethylene and ethanol.  David spent various years in the field for precommissioning, start-up and optimization of Scientific Design EO/EG plants, some of which used ethanol as feedstock.  Over recent years, David worked in Ethanol and EO Catalyst Sales and Product Management.  In his current role he serves as Manager, Licensing.  David has a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from NYU, Bachelor of Engineering and Masters in Chemical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and is a Professional Engineer.

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David Songstad
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Todd Jones

Todd Jones Bio

Todd is the Research Director for the Crop Genome Engineering group at Corteva Agriscience™, Agricultural Division of DowDuPont, leading teams located in Johnston, IA and Hayward, CA.  The Crop Genome Engineering group provides transformation and genome editing services in various crop species, including corn, soybean, wheat, canola and sorghum, in support of all Pioneer biotech traits programs.  In addition, the Crop Genome Engineering research team explores new technologies to improve the transformation and editing processes.  Todd joined DuPont Pioneer in December, 2010 after 7 years with BASF Plant Science in Research Triangle Park, NC, as the Tech Center Leader for Cell Biology. Prior to that, Todd was the Director of Forest Biotechnology at Weyerhaeuser Company in Federal Way, Washington. Todd began his career as a scientist at DuPont in 1989. Todd received his Ph.D. in Plant Developmental Biology from the University of California at Davis.

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Mike Thompson

Dr. Michael Thompson is Vice President of Partner Development with Benson Hill Biosystems. He is personally passionate about eliminating poverty and hunger and professionally responsible for improving crop performance through adoption of Benson Hill’s proprietary computational and systems biology platform, CropOS™. Prior to joining Benson Hill, Dr. Thompson served as Director of Global Sales and Market Development for Illumina’s Agriculture business. Other previous roles include managing the DNA Technologies division of BioDiagnostics, Inc., varioius leadership positions in research and technology development at Monsanto, and a post-doctoral research associate position at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Dr. Thompson holds a bachelors degree in Chemistry & Biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a Ph.D. degree in plant molecular biology from the University of Minnesota.