Date: Wed Jul 27, 2022
Time: 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM
There are many new technologies with applicability to agriculture in the research and development stage. Join us as our panel discusses the implications they have for agriculture today, in the next few years, and even a decade out. Learn what these innovations are so you can better understand the real-world applicability they have to growers.
LeAnna has been in the agriculture / digital ag sector for more than 15 years and holds a PhD in Biostatistics. She currently serves as the Soybean Crop Modeling Lead at Bayer Crop Science / Climate. Her team develops predictive agronomic models which can provide digital recommendations and solutions for farmers to increase the ROI for their operation. Previously she has held roles in Global Market Development developing data-driven insights for new seed products, and Regulatory Sciences delivering data analyses to global regulatory agencies enabling our license to operate.
Ben Johnson is the Vice President, Programs at BioSTL, where he leads its innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem building initiatives, including state and federal public policy and regional talent & workforce development. Since 2001, BioSTL has transformed St. Louis' innovation economy through comprehensive programming that leverages the region’s medical and plant science strengths.
Ben currently serves as Chairman of the national Innovation Advocacy Council (IAC), which informs and educates policymakers and elected officials to modernize federal innovation & entrepreneurship policy, and a Board member of IAC’s parent organization, SSTI.
Ben is also co-founder/President of NEXT Missouri, a grassroots advocacy group promoting pro-entrepreneur policy in Missouri. He is a Board member of the Missouri Biotechnology Association, Missouri’s statewide biotechnology trade association; and Board Chair for St. Louis Makes, a nonprofit dedicated to reshaping St. Louis’ manufacturing future.
Prior to moving to St. Louis, Ben previously led small business and affordable housing finance programs in Evansville, Indiana. A nomad of sorts, Ben was born in to a grain business family in southwestern Minnesota and moved 11 times before the age of 7 – traversing to every upper-Midwest town with a grain elevator before settling in central and southern Indiana (though, let’s be honest, the last time he spread manure was 2002).
Justin Raymundo serves as the Director of Workforce Strategy, where they lead the regional strategy for talent development and deployment for the bioscience industry. Justin brings a deep history of leading multi-stakeholder initiatives and partnerships for inclusive and equitable workforce development and global talent pipelines. Previously, they managed Monsanto's Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars program developing the next generation of leaders in plant science through a global, premier doctoral fellowship with leading universities and international agricultural research organizations. They also led one of the St. Louis region's most extensive portfolios of youth workforce readiness programs during their time at Diversity Awareness Partnership. This included launching the EXPLORE Bioscience and Agriculture Science programs with BioSTL, MilliporeSigma, KWS, and Venture Café as well as leading and expanding youth diversity programs with Centene, Ameren, Edward Jones, PwC, Boeing, and other major corporate and non-profit institutions
For over 25 years, Mark Dann has helped organizations across various industries utilize location technology. In his current role at Esri, Mark offers strategic guidance to agriculture companies to help them leverage location intelligence to improve agronomic workflows, agronomic decision making, and increase operational efficiencies. He is responsible for helping shape the vision for Esri’s work in the commercial agriculture sector. Mark also operates and manages his family’s grain farm in central Ohio, where they primarily grow corn and soybeans. Mark holds a bachelor’s of science in landscape architecture and a master’s of landscape architecture from the Ohio State University.
Mary Fernandes, PhD. is the Co-Founder and President of Solis Agrosciences, a plant sciences company delivering specialized research services to agricultural startups. She is also an Executive in Residence at BioGenerator, the startup arm of BioSTL.
Mary previously worked at Monsanto and Bayer in multiple science and strategy leadership roles. She has over 25 years of experience driving Ag Biotech R&D and has led discovery research and product development in row crops, including corn, soy, cotton, canola and alfalfa. She was responsible for implementing the company’s first high-throughput functional screening platform, numerous genomics technologies and assay development capabilities, as well as its gene editing pipeline. She led the development of Bayer’s DroughtGard® corn, the world’s first and only drought-tolerant biotechnology trait for corn. She was named Inventor of the Year in 2011 by the Bar Association of Metropolitan St Louis and appointed a Monsanto and Bayer Science Fellow.
In addition to driving scientific strategy and operations, Mary has extensive experience in external business development and partnership management, IP strategy development, and portfolio management. Previously, she was also a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Mumbai, India.
Mary is a strong advocate for women and girls, especially in STEM education and workforce development. She serves on the Women’s Leadership Society (WLS) cabinet of the United Way of Greater St. Louis and helped launch the inaugural United Way WLS Mentoring Program in 2022. She also serves as a mentor for the St. Louis International Mentoring Program.
Mary holds a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology, and a Master’s degree in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Mumbai. She holds a Doctorate in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.