2017 Speakers

  • Walid Al-Akhdar PhD.

    Manager Regulatory and Government Affairs - Biologicals BASF

    Walid Al-Akhdar PhD. is a Bio Inorganic Chemist who has held a variety of positions with BASF,  among them being research, product development, and marketing. Now he is working as Manager of Regulatory and Governmental Affairs Biologicals in the crop protection division responsible for registration.

  • Ron Biever

    Chief Scientific Officer Smithers Viscient

    Ron Biever serves as Chief Scientific Officer, in charge of developing scientific business opportunities globally, for Smithers Viscient. Smithers Viscient provides a broad range of regulatory testing solutions, including ecotoxicology, environmental fate, and metabolism.

    Previously, Mr. Biever served as VP of Operations at Springborn, and has filled several scientific and executive-level roles in the organization throughout his career. As part of his global initiatives, he is involved in expanding the European testing laboratory in Switzerland, expanding facilities in both North Carolina and California focuseing on field trials for higher-tiered pollinator services and residue trials.

    Mr. Biever holds a B.S. degree in Natural Resources from the University of Wisconsin and a Masters Degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University. After receiving his masters degree Mr. Biever spent three years with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

  • Dr. Michael Braverman

    Rutgers University Manager Biopesticide and Organic Support Program IR-4 Project

    Dr.  Braverman earned his  A.S.  in Ornamental Horticulture , Valencia Community College  Orlando, FL;   B.S.  Agronomy(Soils) Murray State University  Murray, KY:    M.S. in    Agronomy  (Weed Science)  University of Arkansas,  Fayetteville  and his Ph.D.  in   Vegetable crops at the University of Florida, Gainesville. He is a former faculty member of Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, where he conducted rice research. He was also an Extension Vegetable Specialist with, Texas A & M University, in Weslaco, Texas. In addition he is a former Fulbright Scholar to Thailand where he conducted research as part of the opium substituted crops project. He is currently a Senior Scientist at Rutgers University as Manager of the  Biopesiticide Program. He manages a research grant program of about 40 projects nationwide and prepares scientific dossiers for review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that focuses on microbial, natural product and biotechnology methods.

  • Dr. Richard Broglie

    Research Director Global R&D Strategy Pioneer DuPont

    Richard Broglie is a Research Director in Trait Discovery and Optimization at DuPont Pioneer.  He received his PhD in microbiology and was a postdoctoral fellow and Assistant Professor in the Laboratory of Plant Molecular Biology at The Rockefeller University.  He has led trait discovery programs for modified fatty acid profiles in soybean and canola oils and for pest resistance in corn, soybean, wheat, rice and sugarcane.  He served as Vice President of Research and member of the Board of Directors of InterMountain Canola, a joint venture between DuPont and DNA Plant Technology.  Rich has broad experience in international agriculture markets, and has worked in a wide range of economically important crops.  His most recent research involves the discovery and development of microbials that control soil borne pests and improve crop performance and yield.

  • José Carvalho, PhD

    Head of Global Business Development Agro Dossiers Knoell Group

    José Joao Carvalho is Head of Global Business Development and Regulatory Policy for Agro dossiers at Knoell, an independent service provider for Regulatory Affairs and Product Registrations since 20 years. With his regional teams, José is looking after new regulatory policies in the different regions, focusing on regulatory frameworks impacting agriculture productivity: plant protection products, biostimulants, new application technologies, soil-less technologies, soil amendments, genetic varieties and water policy.

    Previously he was an European and Global Registration Manager for crop protection and biocide products, coordinating active ingredient and product’s dossiers for approval by national regulatory agencies in different regions, working for several R&D companies. José Carvalho holds a PhD in Environmental Chemistry by the Humboldt University Berlin and Master in Pharmaceutical Science (Immunology) by University of Porto.

  • Joe Gionta

    Director of Sales & Marketing BioWorks

    Mr. Gionta serves as the Director of Sales & Marketing for BioWorks where he is part of the Strategic Planning team and is responsible for all Sales & Marketing activities focusing on the customer.

    Prior to joining BioWorks in 2007, Mr. Gionta was a contracted General Manager for Skaneateles Town Square Project.  In this position, he was responsible for start-up businesses-which included full service lumber yard, Home Center, Florist, and Lawn & Garden center.  Additionally he was responsible for staffing, budgets, construction management, development of all policies, procedures and Human Resources, and maintained full P&L accountability. Prior to Skaneateles Town Square, Mr. Gionta was a Regional Pro Manager for The Home Depot with responsibility to 79 locations in the Northeast US. From 1980 -1996 Mr. Gionta owned several Ace Hardware franchises in Upstate New York.

    Mr. Gionta attended Aquinas Institute, Monroe Community College and Rochester Institute of Technology.  Additionally, Mr. Gionta was Director of the Western New York Ace Hardware Dealer Advisory Committee, Past President of the Gates-Chili Chamber of Commerce, and was a member of the PAC committee for the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

  • Travis Higginbotham

    Research and Development Manager Battlefield Farms

    Travis Higginbotham Graduated from Clemson University with a BS in Environmental Horticulture in 2014. During school he worked as a research assistant under Dr. Jim Faust and interned as Metrolina Greenhouses’ first research and development intern. On the side, during school, Travis ran a 6 man landscaping crew who designed, installed and maintained commercial and residential contracts along with managing a retail annual, perennial, shrub and tree nursery in South Carolina. Travis excepted the position as Research and Development Manager at Battlefield Farms after Clemson and is also expected to finish his Masters in Horticulture from Virginia Tech this summer and move forward to pursue his PhD. His focus in school and much of his research at Battlefield is on understanding rearing and storage strategies for microorganisms used for BioControls as an alternative to harsh chemicals. He is also trying to find new ways to contribute to this topic with using UV radiation for control of fungal disease in the greenhouse and during shipping.  He has done much work with understanding plant growth in relation to the PAR light spectrum through LED technology, working closely with environmental certificates and ultimately creating strategies that cut costs in-house while satisfying, not only environmental certificates, but also the end consumers’ concerns. 

  • Dr. Wendelyn Jones

    Director Global Policy and Scientific Affairs DuPont Crop Protection

    Dr. Wendelyn Jones has over 15 years of experience in Global Regulatory and Product Stewardship.  She has worked as a regulator for the US Government, for a trade association, and for agribusinesses.  Currently, she leads the Global Stewardship and Sustainability Team at DuPont Crop Protection. Prior to that she served as the Director of Global Registration and Regulatory Affairs at DuPont Pioneer.   Her experience has spanned a range of agricultural technologies and sectors, and she has personally registered products in every region of the world.  Wendelyn has a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University and completed post-doctoral  studies at MIT. 

  • Robert Kennedy, PhD.

    Chief Scientific Officer Vestaron

    With over 25 years of research management experience, Bob leads Vestaron’s molecular biology and chemistry development teams. Management positions in Fortune 500 companies (Pfizer), academic appointments (Columbia, Michigan) and start-ups add to the leadership and technical experience he brings to Vestaron’s Research and Development success.

  • Dr. Frank Louws

    Professor Plant Pathology, Director NSF - Center for Integrated Pest Management CIPM

    Dr. Frank Louws has been associated with vegetable and fruit production agriculture since his youth. He continued this theme in his education with a BS (Horticulture) and MS (Plant Pathology) from the University of Guelph and Ph.D. (Plant Pathology) from Michigan State University. After 2 years at the NSF Center for Microbial Ecology as a Postdoctoral Fellow he became a faculty member at NC State University with a 70% extension/30% research appointment in plant pathology and to advance horticulture cropping systems. Currently he manages a 25% extension/25% research full professor appointment with a 50% commitment as Director of the NC State-NSF Center for Integrated Pest Management (CIPM). His research and extension program has included the evaluation, discovery, application and recommendation of biological control agents and biologically-based systems to enhance crop production and manage diseases. 

  • Dr. Denise Manker

    Director Global Agronomic Development Bayer CropScience

    Denise Manker joined Bayer CropScience with the acquisition of AgraQuest, Inc. in August, 2012.  She is responsible for advising farmers, distributors and technical crop advisors on best use practices involving biologic products in various countries throughout the world.   As one of AgraQuest’s founding scientists in 1995, she served in a number of different roles during the growth of the startup biological pesticide company, including head of R&D, oversight of global field trials involving biologic products, guiding several key crop strategies and managing numerous industrial collaborations. 

    She is listed as an inventor on 36 issued U.S. patents and numerous foreign patents, and is the recipient of the American Chemical Society Western Regional Industrial Innovation Award in 2001 and the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Award in 2003. She holds a Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography where her research involved identification of novel natural products from marine invertebrates and investigations into their bioactivity and biosynthetic origin and a B.S. degree in Biology from the University of South Florida.

  • Marcus Meadows - Smith

    Chief Executive Officer Bio Consortia

    Marcus Meadows-Smith is an experienced executive with a track record of success in the agricultural, biotech and chemical industries. Currently, Marcus is CEO of BioConsortia, Inc., an innovative microbial company developing consortia for improving plant traits and increasing crop yields. The company has a revolutionary R&D technology platform, which uses directed selection to identify teams of microbes that influence the expression of beneficial traits in crops. BioConsortia is developing highly effective multi-microbe solutions with superior efficacy and consistency.

    Prior to BioConsortia, Marcus helped pioneer the adoption and expansion of microbial solutions into mainstream agriculture. As CEO of AgraQuest, he led the strategic refocusing and transformation of the company to a position of market leadership, resulting in the sale to Bayer CropScience for nearly $500 million. Following the acquisition, Marcus was the Head of Biologics for Bayer CropScience. Earlier in his career, Marcus worked for Sumitomo Corporation and had a 14 year career at Chemtura, ultimately becoming Executive Vice-President for a $2 billion portfolio of businesses: crop protection, consumer products and plastics additives.

    Marcus has a degree in Biological Science, Genetics from Birmingham University in the UK. He is passionate about farming and the environment and runs a small, sustainable farm and vineyard with his wife where they produce wine, lavender, fruit, and olive oil. 

  • Dr. Sara Olson

    Senior Analyst Lux Research Inc.

    Sara Olson is a Senior Analyst at Lux Research in the Life Sciences, leading the Agro Innovation and Food and Nutrition teams.  In this role she monitors and evaluates opportunities coming from technology areas like advanced crop protection, functional foods and ingredients, precision agriculture, and food processing technologies. Sara’s responsibilities include helping clients with questions regarding the diverse regulatory pressures affecting the agri-food industries and developing strategies to drive innovation across the agriculture and food value chains.

    Sara has a decade of experience in crop genetics and biochemistry. She has led research teams focusing on quantitative functional genomics of crop plants with implications for advancing nitrogen use efficiency, drought tolerance, and biomass generation in both food and fuel-generation applications. She has been an invited speaker at numerous international conferences, and has authored multiple primary publications in major journals on topics including genomics, phenomics, and crop protection. Sara holds a B.S. with honors in Biology and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Texas A&M University.

  • Paula Pinto

    Head of Global Portfolio Management Arysta LifeScience

    Paula Pinto joined Arysta LifeScience in 2010 as Head of Global Marketing and currently holds the position of VP, Global Portfolio Management/Marketing. Previously Paula had a career in the Specialty Chemicals sector spanning 21 years in Momentive and its predecessor companies - including Union Carbide, OSi Specialties Corporation and GE Silicones. In Momentive and predecessor companies, Paula has filled a range of senior roles of increasing responsibility in Operations, Business Management and Marketing, from Plant Manager, Brazil, to Latin America Sales and Marketing Director, Specialty Fluids, to her last position as Global Marketing Director, Silicone Fluids. Originally from Brazil, Paula has lived in multiple world regions, is fluent in four languages and has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sao Paulo.

  • Keith Pitts

    VP Regulatory Affairs Marrone Bio Innovations

    Keith Pitts has served in numerous senior legislative, administrative, regulatory and public policy roles for more than two decades, and has been actively involved in shaping domestic and international policies regarding pesticides, organic agriculture, agricultural biotechnology, invasive species, climate change, specialty crops and food safety. He joined MBI in 2008, after working at the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a special assistant to deputy secretary Richard Rominger, and to Secretary Dan Glickman.

    Pitts led several key agricultural, environmental and food safety initiatives for the USDA and the Clinton Administration. His career work has focused on issues such as the president’s Initiative to Ensure the Safety of Imported and Domestic Fruits and Vegetables, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Montreal Protocol and phase-out of methyl bromide, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, major reform of U.S. pesticide policy and agricultural biotechnology policy, the WTO and NAFTA, and several U.S. farm bills. He was also the USDA leader on developing and implementing the president’s Executive Order on Invasive Species and the president’s National Invasive Species Management Plan.

    Most recently, Pitts was public policy director for the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, a nonpartisan research and policy organization based in Washington, DC, where he led all of the organization’s policy-related activities.

    Pitts is on the Research Advisory Council for the Farmland Trust and is also a member of the National Academies of Science Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources (The National Research Council) headquartered in Washington, DC.

    Pitts holds a B.A. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

  • Dr. Paul Reibach

    Technical Director Chemistry Smithers Viscient

    Dr. Reibach is currently the Technical Director for Chemistry at Smithers Viscient in Wareham MA where he is responsible for developing new technologies for conducting a broad range of regulated analytical chemistry studies and identifying new business opportunities to leverage Smithers current capabilities. He received a BA in Biology from The University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in Plant Physiology from Texas A&M University. Prior positions have included Rohm and Haas Research Laboratories, Cerexagri Inc., the Ag Division of Arkema Chemical Company, and JRF America. At Smithers Viscient the chemistry department conducts analytical chemistry research in support of global pharmaceutical, pesticide, and specialty chemical registrations. Prior areas of expertise include plant metabolism, animal metabolism, soil metabolism and environmental fate studies such as degradation in aquatic systems, aqueous photolysis, and soil photolysis. He has developed numerous residue analytical methods which have been utilized for trace level analysis of soils, crops, and animal tissues. He has conducted pesticide field dissipation studies, groundwater monitoring studies, and the field and analytical component of crop magnitude of residue trials. Dr. Reibach has issued over 200 technical reports and publications that have been submitted to various regulatory agencies worldwide. He has a passion for STEM education and has been involved in teacher training and development for the past 25 years. 

  • Dr. Sheryl Reilly

    Senior Regulatory Consultant TSG USA

    Dr. Sheryl Reilly is a leading consultant in the area of biochemical pesticide products. Dr. Reilly assists clients in developing strategies to register and comply with complex regulatory and data requirements associated with microbial and biochemical pesticide products. 

    For the majority of her career, Dr. Reilly held senior level positions in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP). Dr. Reilly served as Branch Chief of the Biochemical Pesticides Branch and later the Microbial Pesticides Branch of the Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division (BPPD). She supervised interdisciplinary branches of risk managers and risk assessors responsible for all registrations and registration reviews for biochemical and microbial pesticides. Dr. Reilly later served as the Senior Advisor for Regulatory Policy and Science for BPPD where she represented the division on several Agency wide workgroups. In addition to her leadership positions at EPA, Dr. Reilly also worked as a Human Health Science Reviewer in the Office of Pesticide Program’s Health Effects Division.

    Prior to joining TSG, Dr. Reilly worked as a Senior Regulatory Specialist at SciReg, Inc. While at SciReg, Dr. Reilly was responsible for evaluating scientific data for compliance with U.S. and international guidelines, determining requirements for establishing food tolerance and tolerance exemptions, and informing clients of relevant regulatory matters affecting their products.

    Dr. Reilly is an active member of the Biopesticide Industry Alliance (BPIA) and serves on the Board of Directors of the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI). Dr. Reilly is often asked to speak at various industry association meetings given her depth of experience with biochemicals.   

  • Sarah Reiter

    Country Manager Stockton USA

    Sarah Reiter is the Head of Stockton USA, the recently-launch American branch of Stockton Group.   She received a Bachelor’s degree from UC Davis and her MBA from Villanova University.  She has been active in the crop protection industry for over 20 years in a career that has focused on both conventional and biological products -  developing and registering,  launching and marketing fungicides and insecticides in Europe, Brazil, China, and the USA for companies including Syngenta, AgraQuest and Bayer.  

  • Amy Plato Roberts

    Regulatory Affairs Manager Lallemand

    Ms. Amy Roberts, now the North American Regulatory Manager for Lallemand Plant Care,  has over 26 years’ of experience and expertise in successfully leading biopesticide registration efforts for products in the US and abroad. Ms. Roberts is recognized as an expert in biopesticide registration and in the distinctive issues related to this class of products.  Ms. Roberts has extensive knowledge and insight into the workings and procedures of the Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division (BPPD), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) division that regulates biopesticides as well as strong working relationships with U.S., Canadian and international regulators, allied organizations and trade groups. Ms. Roberts’ expertise includes screening new active ingredients for registerability, negotiating data requirements, supervising and monitoring contract studies, preparing a complete registration package and effectively following up to ensure successful registration. Ms. Roberts is a founding member of the Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA) - the trade association for this industry segment – and is a former five-term member of the Board of Directors. In addition, she is a co-chair of the Regulatory Committee and functions as the BPIA representative in a coalition of industry trade groups on pesticide issues. 

  • Susan Shepherd

    President Smithers Viscient

    Susan Shepherd is the President of Smithers Viscient, with nearly 30 years of service at the Wareham, Massachusetts site. Her extensive experience includes overseeing studies conducted in a GLP-compliant testing environment and she has held a number of leadership positions in reporting, data management, lab services, and ecotoxicology.