Fairfax, VA (April 12, 2023) – The 2023 SIMB Election for positions on the Board of Directors concluded on March 31, and the votes have been tallied. Thank you to each and every member who participated in this year’s election—as a candidate or as a voter. Your engagement is vital to ensuring SIMB leadership continually reflects the needs and priorities of the community.
With that in mind, let’s meet our future leaders!
Please welcome and congratulate the newest members of the SIMB Board of Directors: Ramon Gonzalez, President-Elect, Katy Kao, Treasurer, and Jennifer Headman, Director!
Ramon, Katy, and Jennifer will start their terms at this year’s SIMB Annual Meeting to be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 30 – August 3. But you don’t have to wait until then to get to know them! Read more about each winner below.
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.
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.
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. 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.
The Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology (SIMB) is a nonprofit, international association dedicated to the advancement of microbiological sciences, especially as they apply to industrial products, biotechnology, materials, and processes. Founded in 1949, SIMB promotes the exchange of scientific information through its meetings and publications, and serves as liaison among the specialized fields of microbiology. Membership in the Society is extended to all scientists and companies in the general field of microbiology.
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