2023 SIMB Election bios for Board of Directors candidates

Posted 2/15/23 by . Filed under Uncategorized.

SIMB Election Info

The SIMB Election for positions on the Board of Directors will commence March 1, 2023. The election will close at noon EDT on March 31, 2023, and members must join/renew by noon EDT, March 30 2023, to be eligible to vote.Current members for 2023 will receive login instructions for accessing the voting module.

Results will be published on the SIMB website and in SIMB News.

Student members are not eligible to vote.

Candidates for President-Elect

Rob Donofrio
Read Rob Donofrio's Biography
I am honored and humbled to be considered for the position of President of the Society of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (SIMB). The Society has helped shape who I am as a scientist, professional and colleague. During my 25+ years of membership I have volunteered for many roles: poster presenter (my first when I was a Masters of Science student at Duquesne University); session speaker; poster session judge; session organizer; conference planning committee; program chair of Recent Advances in Microbial Control; SIMB Board of Directors (two terms as Secretary and currently Director). Each experience provided insight into the inner workings of the Society and provided me with a genuine appreciation of the effort, collaborative spirit, and passion of my fellow SIMB members. My doctoral mentor at Michigan Technological University Dr. Susan Bagley (past SIMB president and all-around incredible person) instilled in me the mindset of servant leadership and the importance of volunteering. SIMB is truly a Society where everyone can (and should) get involved.

Professionally, I currently hold the position of Chief Scientific Officer at Neogen where I am responsible for the global R&D strategic vision, resource management and coordination of product development activities for the 150+ scientists and researchers in our Food Safety, Animal Safety and Genomics divisions. Prior to Neogen, I held multiple roles at NSF International over my 16-year tenure (Director of Microbiology, Director of the Applied Research Center). My additional board and advisory commitments include AOAC’s Global Council, International Fresh Produce Association Food Safety Council, National Institute of Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education Advisory Council, and the MichBio Board of Directors.

If I were fortunate enough to be selected at President, I would look to expand on the many impactful initiatives enacted by my predecessors. My vision for the term would be as follows:

  1. 1. Plan for long term sustainment and growth of the Society
    • a. Strategic planning sessions lead by Board of Directors and build on the input of key society stakeholders and members
    • b. Emphasize adherence to core values while being fiscally responsible
      • i. Ensure that SIMB remains as the premiere industrial microbiology society
      • ii. Ensure that the Society continues to cultivate a diverse, equitable and inclusive group of scientists and professionals
    • c. Evaluation of additional scientific tracks for inclusion into Annual Meeting or serving as special symposia
    • d. Evaluation of society partnerships that align with core values and complements our scientific focus
  2. 2. Increase Industry participation to drive corporate membership and sponsorship
    • a. Establish key connections with corporate decision makers and define the value add of membership
    • b. Evaluate and engage adjacent industry targets for potential membership
    • c. Evaluate best practices for industry engagement by other societies and trade associations
  3. 3. Expand recruitment of emerging scientists
    • a. Mentorship engagement
    • b. Develop SIMB emerging scientist support and development group
    • c. Social media campaigns to raise awareness of Society meetings and local scientific gatherings; recognize member contributions and achievements
    • d. Targeted local section engagements at universities
Thank you for your consideration and I look forward the opportunity to serve you.

Ramon Gonzalez
University of South Florida
Read Ramon Gonzalez's Biography
Dr. Ramon Gonzalez is a Professor and Florida World Class Scholar in the Department of Chemical, Biological, and Materials Engineering at the University of South Florida (USF) where he leads the laboratory for Metabolic Engineering and Biomanufacturing. He currently serves as Program Director with the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). Before joining USF, Dr. Gonzalez was a Professor in the Departments of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering and Bioengineering at Rice University and the Founding Director of Rice’s Advanced Biomanufacturing Initiative. From 2012 to 2015 he served as Program Director with the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) of the U.S. Department of Energy. Dr. Gonzalez’s work has been published in prestigious scientific journals and has given more than 100 invited talks at institutions around the world. He is the lead inventor in 25 patents/patent applications, co-founded Glycos Biotechnologies Inc. and Creo Ingredients Inc., and has advised major companies in the biotechnology and chemical industries. Dr. Gonzalez has received numerous recognitions, including elected Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), Discovery Series Lecture (BioDesign Institute, Arizona State University), Tiangong Forum Lecture (TIB-CAS, China), AIChE Division 15c Plenary Lecture, ASM Distinguished Lecturer, SDA/NBB Glycerine Innovation Research Award, and NSF CAREER Award.

Dr. Gonzalez has been actively engaged with SIMB for almost two decades, initially giving talks and chairing/co-chairing technical sessions at annual and specialized meetings, then served as the Program Chair of the 2011 Annual Meeting and as a member of the Board of Directors. He has also served as an Editor of the Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (JIMB) and since 2015 has been JIMB’s Editor-in-Chief. Under his leadership, the Editorial Board was restructured, a highly coveted Special Issue Collection has been established, the visibility and quality of publications have reached new heights, and the impact factor increased to 4.258. Dr. Gonzalez also played a key role in the transition of JIMB to an Open Access Journal with Oxford University Press. As SIMB President, Dr. Gonzalez will build upon these experiences to increase the visibility and impact of SIMB as the pre-eminent professional society that will shape the bioeconomy. These efforts will include working closely with leaders in academia, industry, non-profits, and public-private entities in the US and abroad. In addition, Dr. Gonzalez plans to make diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility an integral component of the SIMB community, an effort that will span both membership and leadership.

Candidates for Treasurer

Katy Kao
San Jose State University
Read Katy Kao's Biography
Katy is a Professor in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at San Jose State University. Prior to joining San Jose State University in 2019, she was an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University. Her work focuses on microbial adaptation for applications in biotechnology and microbial pathogenesis. Specifically, her lab is developing broadly applicable methods based on adaptive laboratory evolution for both strain development and to gain fundamental understanding of complex phenotypes in microbial systems. Her lab is also studying biofilm adaptation in human fungal pathogens.

Katy has been an active member of the SIMB community since 2008. Her service includes serving the chair of the 2019 SIMB Annual meeting in Washington DC and as a direct on the Board of Directors from 2019-2022, convening sessions, serving as a member of the Fermentation and Cell Culture program committee, and chairing the Fermentation and Cell Culture program committee. Her vision for SIMB is to grow the membership, engage young scientists, and continue to bring together members from industry, academia, and national labs to address issues important in industrial biotechnology.

Steven Van Lanen
University of Kentucky
Read Steven Van Lanen's Biography
Steven G. Van Lanen is a Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences within the College of Pharmacy at the University of Kentucky. His research is focused on the discovery and characterization of bioactive natural products with unique structures or distinct mechanisms of action relative to clinically used drugs. Another significant emphasis of the research is centered on the functional assignment and biochemical characterization of enzymes catalyzing highly unusual chemistry that enable the biosynthesis of these natural products. He earned a B.S. in Molecular Biology with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Portland State University. Following his graduate studies, he received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Service Award for a Postdoctoral Fellowship under the guidance of Prof. Ben Shen at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He joined the University of Kentucky in 2007, where he has instructed physiological chemistry, biochemistry, medicinal chemistry, and infectious disease courses within the College of Pharmacy. Dr. Van Lanen is a co-author of 80 refereed papers and the recipient of multiple extramural funding awards from the National Institute of Health. He has mentored more than 40 undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral, and professional students and has co-organized and given lectures at multiple international conferences and venues.

Candidates for Director

Jennifer Headman
Read Jennifer Headman's Biography
Dr. Jennifer Headman holds the position of Fermentation Manager in Research at POET, the world’s largest producer of biofuels. She has worked at multiple companies in the biofuels and biochemicals space, starting with two startup companies, EdeniQ and Verdezyne, before moving to global BioSolutions provider Novozymes, and finally to POET. During her career she has been involved in the development and scale up from laboratory to pilot, and eventually industrial scale fermentation of microbes and enzyme products. Jen prides herself in being able to effectively translate between the sometimes wildly different languages used within academia and industry. She was recently featured in the October 2022 edition of Ethanol Producer magazine in the Faces in Ethanol feature.

Jen earned a B.S. in Biotechnology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2001. She then completed her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 2009. During her Ph.D. in the lab of past SIMB President Dr. Tom Jeffries, she spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar at the Technical University of Denmark, where she fell in love with all things fermentation related. It was during her time as a Ph.D. student that Jen first became involved with SIMB. Jen has been helping to plan the SIMB annual meeting since 2016, first serving as a member of the bio-catalysis program committee and student poster session judge, serving as the 2020/2021 bio-catalysis program committee chair, and most recently helping to organize the student poster session and Science Slam. In her free time, Jen serves as a member of the national operations council for Alpha Phi Omega, the national coed service fraternity as the regional chair for the Carolinas, a role that will be ending in December 2023. This role has been rewarding as it works directly with college students and helps them in their own personal leadership development while serving as a role model to the next generation.

Jen values the impact that SIMB and its members has had on her personal career development and wishes to help bring that to others. If she is chosen as a director, Jen would like to focus on expanding knowledge of, and access to, the society to students and other young researchers, especially from underrepresented groups. This includes women and other groups who traditionally have less exposure to, and opportunity within, the scientific community. It also includes groups of people such as laboratory managers, laboratory technicians, and plant operators who have the potential to grow through interactions with the Society. She would also like to help facilitate more interactions between academic and government labs and industry as each bring unique resources to the table and effective collaborations can significantly advance discovery in the field of industrial microbiology.

Davinia Salvachúa
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Read Davinia Salvachúa's Biography
Davinia Salvachúa is a Senior Scientist and Distinguished Member of the Research Staff at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, CO, USA). She received her PhD in biology with a specialization in microbiology from the University Complutense of Madrid in Spain. Her current work focuses on bioprocess development with bacteria and fungi to produce biofuels and biochemicals as well as on the use of systems biology and biochemistry to elucidate novel mechanisms of aromatic catabolism in white-rot fungi. Additionally, she currently serves as an Editor for Microbial Biotechnology. Davinia received an Early Career Award from the US Department of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research program and the Society of Industrial Microbiology (SIMB)’s Young Investigator Award, both in 2019.

Davinia has been an active member of the SIMB community since 2014. Her service has included convening sessions and speaking at the Annual SIMB Meeting, the Symposium on Biomaterials for Fuels and
Chemicals (SBFC), and Recent Advances in Fermentation Technology (RAFT®). In addition, she also served as a Co-chair and Chair at the 43rd and 44th Symposium SBFC in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

“As a Director on the SIMB Board of Directors, and as an active researcher on industrial microbiology, one of my main goals will be enhancing the visibility of the society and growing the membership by engaging international scientists from academia, government research centers, and industry. The utilization of various social media platforms and continuous international outreach to researchers and societies with similar goals to SIMB will be key to continue exchanging knowledge and broadening the society. I also believe that promoting and supporting the diversity within the members of our society and sponsors will be also a major driver to build our community, to continue increasing the science quality in our meetings, and to expand professional opportunities for early career researchers. Reaching minority serving institutions, dedicating sessions to students, and building event apps to promote pre- and post-event networking are additional ideas to enrich the variety of expertise, views, and experiences to continue harnessing microbiology to promote human health and planet sustainability.”

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