Scientific Advisors

STEPHEN A. GOFF

Steve’s research interests include the molecular biology of plant and animal growth, the molecular biology of heterosis or hybrid vigor, the molecular mechanisms of cellular aging, and the use of computational cyberinfrastructure to address major research topics in biology. Steve received his PhD in cell physiology at Harvard Medical School in 1985. The majority of his research has been focused on the control of gene expression and protein quality control systems as well as approaches to improve crops using genomics, biochemistry and human sensory perception. In addition to over 50 research publications and book chapters, Steve is an inventor on more than 80 published patents. In 2002, as Director of Genome Technology at Novartis Biotechnology he was responsible for completing and publishing the rice genome sequence. This accomplishment represented the first publication of a crop genome sequence and resulted in his being awarded “Research Leader of the Year” by Scientific American magazine. Since 2008, Steve has served as the Project Director and PI of the iPlant Collaborative which is a $100M NSF project to build cyberinfrastructure for biology. Steve was also recently awarded an NSF grant to study a novel molecular theory of aging and has developed novel theories linking aging to heterosis that are consistent with the numerous published observations in these fields. 

CALVIN H. PEARSON

Calvin has more than 30 years of experience as an agronomist working with both traditional and alternative crops. His research program focuses on topics related to sustainable crop production and soil management systems in the furrow-irrigated cropland in the arid west. Starting in 2001 he led a 8-year USDA supported project to evaluate and initiate the development of sunflower as a domestic source of natural rubber for the US. In addition to his role as a research agronomist he also developed sunflower tissue culture protocols and natural rubber quantification methods. He joined Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station at the Western Colorado Research Center over 30 years ago and is currently a Professor of Soil and Crop Sciences at Colorado State University and a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy. Calvin has authored or co-authored numerous publications and served on the Editorial Board of Agronomy Journal for 16 years serving as associate editor, technical editor, and editor. He holds a B.S. degree from Brigham Young University, an M.S. degree from Oklahoma State University, and a Ph.D. from Oregon State University.

JOHN STEFFENS

John has a unique background in the management of public and private sector research, as well as experience in business and product development, regulatory affairs, and project management. His strengths include developing and launching product concepts and working with regulators and scientists to meet regulatory guidelines for a wide range of crops and traits for global market approvals. In the public sector, John was on the faculty at Cornell University for 12 years where his research and teaching interests were in biochemistry, molecular biology and plant breeding. In the private sector, he has led trait development groups while managing strategic research collaborations, technology assessment, and open innovation programs. He is an active board member of the Lake Forest Association and the Biofuels Center of North Carolina. As an author of more than 70 publications and patents, he is a well-known expert in plant biochemistry and molecular biology. He earned his B.A. in Biology and Ph.D. in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Virginia.

THOMAS K. MITCHELL

Tom is fungal biologist with extensive experience in applying genomic, bioinformatic, and biotechnology tools to understanding fungal physiology and parasitism. He is an Associate Professor at The Ohio State University joining their faculty in 2007 after six years as the Senior Scientist at the Center for Applied Fungal Research at North Carolina State University. His work spans the realms of basic biology, tool and technology development, functional and evolutionary genomics, and the application of molecular biological tools in support of applied solutions. He received his B.Sc. at The Pennsylvania State University in Plant Science with a focus on Genetics, M.Sc. from Clemson University in Plant Pathology, and Ph.D. from North Carolina State University in Plant Pathology with a focus on Biotechnology.

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