Cornell University

As part of the university's commitment to economic development and outreach, CTL hosts a variety of events to create connections between the Cornell campuses, industry members, entrepreneurs, and investors.

Featured Presenters

  • Ron Meeusen

    Managing Director, Cultivian Sandbox

    Dr. Meeusen is a Managing Director of Cultivian Sandbox and co-founder and Managing Partner of Cultivian Ventures. Ron has over 30 years of experience in bringing new technologies and products to market. He has led research and development for major corporations in agricultural chemicals, field crop and vegetable genetics and breeding, animal health, novel foods and industrial materials. His successful projects include the world’s first field trial of a genetically engineered crop trait in 1986, development and launch of one of the first insect and herbicide resistant corn hybrids in 1996, introduction of a trans-fat free canola oil, and development of dozens of new varieties of field and vegetable crops on three continents. Ron has been a frequent speaker at conferences, a consultant to Federal policy on biotechnology regulatory issues, and active in industry trade groups. Prior to forming Cultivian Ron led the expansion of the biotechnology research and development program of Dow AgroSciences, and founded a successful biopharmaceutical company, Immuneworks, Inc. Ron represents Cultivian on the board of directors of AbCelex Technologies, Agrivida (Board Chair), enEvolv, Asilomar Bio, Rivertop Renewables, Vestaron and Virgin Plants. He was also a member of the board of directors of Allylix, Aratana Therapeutics, Proterro and Divergence, Inc. Ron holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in plant cell biology, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee in plant physiology.

  • Bob Nordgren

    Managing Director, The Yield Lab

    Dr. Nordgren is a Managing Director at The Yield Lab. Bob has been engaged in the Animal Health Industry as a leader in the discovery, development and marketing of veterinary vaccines and biotherapeutics for the past 30 years, most recently with Merial and Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica. Over that span, Bob has been involved in a long string of industry-first classes of vaccines and market-leading products in each of the major animal species. Additionally, Bob has led global development teams, formed new biotechnology labs in China, and recently helped to identify new technologies leading to the formation of active independent start-up companies.

  • Dan Tomso

    Chief Scientific Officer, AgBiome

    Dr. Tomso has a Ph.D. in Microbiology and Molecular Biology from Duke University and has trained in Bioinformatics with the NIH. He was part of the R&D team at Athenix, where he helped lead the trait discovery effort and managed several major partnerships. Prior to joining AgBiome, Tomso managed the US trait research team for Bayer CropScience and also established a global R&D alliance management program there. He has been with AgBiome since the founding of the company.

  • Harold van Es

    Professor, Plant Science, Cornell University

    Harold van Es is a Professor of Soil and Water Management with extension, research and teaching duties. He works on approaches to precision soil management, with current emphases on a holistic soil health management framework, and a computational tool for precision nitrogen management (Adapt-N) that was recently commercialized. He has published over 110 peer reviewed papers and chapters, co-authored a widely-read book on sustainable soil management (Building Soils for Better Crops), developed numerous extension articles and videos, and advised 45 graduate students. He teaches PLSCS 3210 Soil and Crop Management for Sustainability, and PLSCS 6210 Space-Time Statistics.

  • Michael Helmstetter

    Co-Founder, President and CEO, TechAccel

    Dr. Helmstetter is Co-Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Technology Acceleration Partners (TechAccel LLC). TechAccel is a venture and technology development company in the agriculture and animal health sectors that invests in or acquires new technology and funds science advancement programs with research university partners to assist in commercialization. Before founding TechAccel, Michael served as the fifth President and Chief Executive Officer of MRIGlobal – one of the nation's most prominent research institutions. In his 14 years with MRIGlobal (formerly Midwest Research Institute), he led its growth from 2 to 17 national and international locations. Michael has more than 30 years of experience working with the private sector and government agencies, including laboratory management positions at Applied Marine Research Laboratory in Norfolk, Va., and program management for the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution in Fort Pierce, Fla. He was President and Chairman of startup Brevard Teaching and Research Laboratories, a post he held until the company was acquired by MRIGlobal. Michael received a Ph.D. in Chemical Toxicology/Oceanography from Old Dominion University and a B.S. in Biology from Allegheny College. He has been a panelist, keynote speaker, lecturer, reviewer to several journals, and is the author of numerous publications, articles, book chapters, and technical reports. He has served on several boards, including Labconco Corp. Board of Directors and University of Missouri-Kansas City Board of Trustees, as well as numerous civic organizations. Michael lives in suburban Kansas City. Reach him via the TechAccel website, Twitter, LinkedIn, or email:

  • Jan Nyrop

    Director, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station
    Interim Director, NYS Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, NY

    Dr. Nyrop is a Professor of Entomology and Associate Dean for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. He is the Director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES), which serves as a bridge between academic discovery and commercial application. As the CUAES Director, Nyrop provides overall leadership for the experiment station by working to align programs and activities with college priorities, administers federal funding to support agricultural and life sciences research, oversees research program development and promotes integration of research and its application to improve communities and peoples’ lives. Through his research within the Department of Entomolgy, Nyrop works to develop concepts and tools needed to improve management of arthropods in crops and natural systems. He is especially interested in improving the effectiveness of natural enemies for controlling pests, in improving how decisions are made to control pests, and in applying quantitative tools to better understand the ecology in arthropod pests and the plants they feed upon.

  • Brita Rosenheim

    Partner, The Mixing Bowl

    As a Partner at The Mixing Bowl, Brita Rosenheim brings 15 years of investment, M&A, and strategy experience within the food and food tech verticals. She is recognized as an expert on the food tech ecosystem and has advised start-ups, entrepreneurs, investors and institutions as the Principal of Rosenheim Advisors. Her analysis on the Food Tech & Media sector is regularly used by participants in the space to understand the quickly evolving landscape. Before founding Rosenheim Advisors, Brita was an investment banker focused on the consumer and media industries at ThinkEquity Partners, SG Cowen & Co. and Robertson Stephens in San Francisco.

  • Satish Rai

    Senior Technology Manager, KWS

    Satish Rai is Senior Technology Manager At KWS. He received his M.S. and Ph.D. from North Dakota State University in Plant Sciences, and MBA in Technology Commercialization from University of Saskatchewan. He has worked with a number of organizations both private and public as hands on scientist in molecular breeding, and commercialization of early stage technologies. Currently, he is working with KWS R&D division focused on scouting and licensing of early stage technologies.

  • John Davies

    Fellow, Trait Genetics and Technology Department, Dow AgroSciences

    Dr. Davies is currently a Fellow in the Trait Genetics and Technology Department at Dow AgroSciences with over 15 years of experience leading research projects targeting gene discovery, native trait development, genomics and gene editing in large (Dow AgroSciences) and small (Exelixis Plant Sciences) companies. Dr. Davies has broad scientific knowledge in plant and microbial biology as well as plant physiology, molecular biology and genetics. From 1998 – 2000, Dr. Davies was an Assistant Professor in the Botany Department at Iowa State University where he developed a research program studying acclimation of plants to nutrient deprivation and helped initiate the multi-institutional Chlamydomonas Genome Project. In 2000, he joined Exelixis, a biotechnology start-up company, where he led projects and helped develop business opportunities and joined Dow AgroSciences in 2010 when Exelixis Plant Sciences was acquired by DAS. He has a BS in Biology from Sewanee: The University of the South, a MS in Agronomy and Soils from Auburn University, a PhD from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from the University of Oregon. He is an author of 25 scientific publications and an inventor on 33 issued patents.

  • Roy Curtiss

    Professor, Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida

    Dr. Curtiss is a Preofessor in Infectious Diseases and Pathology at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. Previously, he was a Professor of Microbiology and Director of the Centers for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology and Microbial Genetic Engineering in the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. He was the George William and Irene Koechig Freiberg Professor of Biology and formerly Chairman of the Department and Professor of Cellular and Molecular Biology in the School of Dental Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. Earlier, he served as Biologist and Group Leader in the Biology Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Professor, Associate Director and Interim Director of the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and Charles H. McCauley Professor of Microbiology at the University of Alabama in Birmingham where he was Founder and Director of the NIH and NSF funded Molecular Cell Biology Graduate Program and also Founder and Director of the first Cystic Fibrosis Research Center at a US university. He received his BS from Cornell University and PhD from the University of Chicago. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the St. Louis Academy of Sciences and the Arizona Arts, Science and Technology Academy and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Curtiss was granted the first US patent issued for a genetically modified organism (Chi 1776), holds the first patent on genetically engineered attenuated bacteria to deliver protective antigens as vaccines to prevent infectious diseases, and holds the first patents (with Guy Cardineau) on genetically modified plants expressing pathogen-derived protective antigens as vaccines against bacterial and viral pathogens. He was Missouri Inventor of the Year in1997 and Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year in 2007. Past research includes vegetable and avian genetics, phage and bacterial genetics, plasmid molecular biology and bacterial pathogens.

  • Betsy Bihn

    Senior Extension Associate, Food Science, Cornell University

    Dr. Bihn is a Senior Extension Associate in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University. She is currently the director of the Produce Safety Alliance and program coordinator for the National Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Program. The main focus of her work is to reduce microbial risks to fresh fruits and vegetables through research and extension programs developed for and in collaboration with growers, farm workers, produce industry personnel, students, teachers, and consumers. Betsy received her B.S. from Ohio State University in zoology, M.S. from the University of Florida in horticulture, and Ph.D. from Cornell University in food science.

  • Matthew Willmann

    Director, Plant Transformation Facility, Cornell University

    Dr. Willmann is the Director of Cornell's Plant Transformation Facility (PTF), which opened in January 2016. He received his undergraduate degree in General Plant Science in 1999 from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in Genetics from Harvard University in 2004. PTF is a service-facility that makes transgenic and CRISPR/Cas9 genome-edited plants (maize, rice, wheat, and apple) for Cornell and external faculty. Dr. Willmann’s research interests include developing transformation protocols for previously untransformed plants, developing transgene-free CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing methods, and understanding the genetic basis for the genotype-dependence of plant transformation and tissue culture. In an attempt to increase the acceptance of plant biotechnology, he has given many talks for the public about how transgenic and gene-edited plants are made.

  • Jesse Munkvold

    Genomic Scientist, Dow AgroSciences

    Dr. Munkvold is currently a Genomic Scientist in Trait Genetics and Technologies at DAS. Since joining DAS in 2014, his role has focused on the implementation of high-throughput genotyping and genomic selection technologies in global corn breeding. In 2011 Jesse began his career in industry as a Scientist in the Applied Systems Biology group at Keygene Inc. in Rockville, MD. While there he focused on integrating diverse data types for identifying genes that regulate important plant traits and establishing a next-generation mutation breeding pipeline. Jesse earned his bachelor’s in biology from Augustana College in 2001. He completed his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Cornell University in 2007 working on systems genetics in wheat. Jesse also studied tomato/pathogen interactions as a post-doctoral associate at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research.

  • Susan Brown

    Professor, Plant Science, Cornell University

    Dr. Brown is a professor in the Horticulture Section of Plant Science at Cornell University. She received her Master's from Rutgers University and Ph.D. from UC Davis. Her research focuses on fruit breeding to develop new apple varieties, furthering the knowledge of the genetics of key traits in apples and identifying molecular markers for important characteristics for use in marker-assisted breeding (MAB). Her objective is identifying outstanding advanced selections for potential apple variety release, and evaluating populations to study the inheritance of plant form, antioxidants, quality attributes, and other characteristics.

  • Courtney Weber

    Associate Professor, Plant Science, Cornell University

    Dr. Weber received his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Florida. As an associate professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell, his primary goal is to develop improved strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry varieties to better serve the needs of the New York industry. Weber is integrating new technologies with traditional breeding practices to investigate the fundamentals of disease, insect resistance, and fruit quality. Through collaborative projects with food scientists and human health specialists, Weber is able to identify superior varieties containing beneficial phytochemicals. By working with pathologists and entomologists, Weber is able to provide insights into the pest problems of berry production in New York. He has presented to national and regional audiences at conferences, providing fruit growers with information to make informed decisions that result in better tasting, more nutritious, and more attractive fruit for consumers, allowing growers to remain competitive in the changing marketplace.

  • Marc Fuchs

    Associate Professor, Plant Science, Cornell University

    Dr. Fuchs received his Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Université Louis Pasteur in France. He joined the Department of Plant Pathology at Cornell University in 2004 with research and extension responsibilities on viruses of vegetable and fruit crops. Marc’s program is based on discovery-oriented research and transfer of discoveries into practical applications. He is currently leading multidisciplinary team efforts on various diseases of grapevine, with the ultimate goal of developing optimal management strategies.

  • Rodrigo Bicalho

    Associate Professor, Dairy Production Medicine, Cornell University

    Dr. Bicalho is an Associate Professor of Dairy Production Medicine in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences. His current research includes: bovine lameness, metritis, and mastitis; factors affecting reproductive efficiency in dairy cows; estrous synchronization; and the use of bacteriophages as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool for bacterial infections of farm animals.

    In addition to being a professor in Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Bicalho is one of the world's leading experts on dairy cattle health and is frequently called upon to advise some of the largest and most progressive dairy farms in the world. Dr. Bicalho received his his Ph.D. from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University and joined the faculty in 2008 and has published over 70 scientific articles related to cattle health, microbiology, and infectious diseases. Dr. Bicalho and his team at Cornell University are the innovators that made the scientific discoveries that are the foundation of Bactana’s flagship product.

  • Daryl Van Nydam

    Associate Professor, Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences, Cornell University

    Dr. Nydam received his DVM and Ph.D. in Comparative Biomedical Sciences from Cornell University. Nydam's research interests are at the intersection of production animal agriculture and public health at the population level - with an emphasis on dairy cattle. His on-going projects are in the areas of transition cow health and performance, calf infectious (especially zoonoses), and milk quality. He is the director of the Quality Milk Production Services program, which serves the dairy industry of New York State by promoting the production of high quality milk through the control of mastitis, and the avoidance of antibiotic residues in milk through field and laboratory diagnostic evaluations and recommendations. Nydam teaches a variety of bovine herd health and epidemiology classes as well as provides consulting and clinical service for the dairy industry.

  • Greg Sumner

    Independent Consultant for the Animal Health Industry

    Dr. Sumner is an independent consultant to the animal health industry and focuses his activities primarily on helping start-up companies and universities. He has over 35 years of experience in a wide variety of disciplines in animal health. He has spent the majority of his career in Business Development at Merck, Intervet and Schering-Plough coordinating in-licensing activities with R&D and marketing, facilitating acquisitions and divestitures and doing technology assessments, all on a global basis. In addition, Dr. Sumner has worked in the areas of technical services and product management in both the food animal and companion animal sectors. He started his animal health career as a veterinary practitioner in both companion animal and food animal clinics in the Midwest. Dr. Sumner received his DVM from the University of Illinois.

  • Peter Selover

    Principal, Oriole Animal Heath

    Mr. Selover is a principal at Oriole Animal Heath. Oriole is an animal health consulting and venture firm. On the consulting side, Oriole advises clients seeking to build animal health businesses (e.g. business plans, product strategies, and fundraising support) and provides transactional support (lead generation, transactional project management, negotiations and deal structuring). On the venture side, Oriole takes management responsibilities and holds equity positions in select animal health startups. These are generally ventures focused on novel, early-stage (i.e. just before proof of concept in the target species) technologies.

    Prior to joining Oriole in 2012, Mr. Selover was the Head of Global Business Development at Merial for 11 years. There he led a team that reviewed approximately 250 animal health opportunities per year and executed approximately 15-25 transactions per year.

    Mr. Selover holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and a Masters of International Business degree from the University of South Carolina.

Featured Startups & Technologies

Bactana Animal Health

Bactana Animal Health is an animal health company developing probiotics to improve animal health and increase the efficiency of growing food-producing animals, including dairy and beef cattle.


FloraPulse is focused on innovative data-based solutions for farm management. They are developing a water sensor and chip device that can be directly embedded into plants to directly measure water stress. The collected data can then be used by growers to determine when to water, prune, and harvest their crops.

ZYMtronix, Inc.

ZYMtronix is a biotechnology startup that services enzyme and pharmaceutical manufacturers. ZYMtronix immobilizes and optimizes biocatalysts for continuous manufacturing using green chemistry principles to lower the costs and increase the yields of drug manufacturing.

Microalgae in Chicken Feed

Xingen Lei, Professor, Animal Science, Cornell University

Fish oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acids that have been associated with anti-inflammation and other health benefits, including reducing triglycerides. Increasing fish oil in diets is a worthy goal. However, fishing quotas and increasing cost, demand and supply of fish oil and fish meal have created the need for alternate sources for this beneficial oil. What is not well known, is that fish actually acquire omega-3 fatty acids by eating microalgae or prey fish that do. To that end, we present a proprietary method of using microalgae in chicken feed to enrich poultry meat and eggs with fish oil.