INTRODUCING OUR TEAM
Daphne Preuss is an entrepreneur focused on bringing genetic and biotechnology innovations to agriculture. She previously founded and built Chromatin Inc. into the leading innovator in sorghum, aggregating genetic technology and global sales channels, and recruiting the industry’s leading team of sorghum experts. She frequently advises start up companies and their investors, and is passionate about transitioning innovation to the commercial sector. Prior to joining Chromatin, Preuss was a Howard Hughes Investigator at the University of Chicago. She previously chaired the NCBI – the NIH’s DNA database division, and has served on BIO’s Food & Agriculture Section.
John McKay is a Professor of Plant Evolutionary Genomics at Colorado State University. In his faculty position, McKay leads a research group on the genetics of adaptation in crops and model systems, with a focus on drought and sustainability. In 2014, when US ended prohibition of hemp, McKay co-founded New West Genetics to apply modern genomics and breeding to Cannabis sativa. His research examines evolution and gene function at both the phenotypic and molecular levels. His genetic discoveries are in the commercial breeding pipeline for multiple crops. McKay’s publications have been cited over 6,000 times, and he serves on scientific review panel in the US and internationally. Dr. McKay has multiple research projects on investing the genetics of adaptation to climate through competitive grant awards totaling over $20MM grants from the National Science Foundation, USDA, ARPA-E, and the DOE.
Rich is the Director of Breeding and a co-founder of New West Genetics. His interest is in utilizing technology to develop and bring to market cultivars with traits that benefit both the producer and consumer. Rich was a part of Cargill’s hybrid canola breeding program for more than 18 years, most recently leading the North American breeding and genetics program. He also worked as an agronomist where he gained a practical working knowledge of field crop production. During his Ph.D. work at Colorado State University, Rich utilized genetics and genomics approaches to identify genes underlying drought adaptation in Brassica napus. Rich is a native Coloradoan, and regularly enjoys the beauty of his state through skiing and hiking.
Emma loves when plants and people connect and is excited to bring new farmers to this versatile crop. After studying Biological Sciences & Spanish Language and Culture at Iowa State University, the mountains called her home to Colorado. She comes to New West Genetics with experience in hemp research, marketing, and customer engagement, and product development. She is ready to move the hemp industry forward with high quality hemp genetics and new markets for hemp grain. Above all, Emma is excited to share her marketing philosophy and tell NWG’s story. Emma enjoys gardening, traveling, exploring Colorado, and spending time with her beautiful partner and three dogs.
Trained as a scientist with a career in technical marketing and communications, Jennifer is proficient in interpreting and translating scientific information into business terms. Her leadership roles in the agricultural, foodservice, and food retail sectors have given her unique insights into decision-making at multiple points of the food and agricultural value chain. These experiences enable her to bring in-depth expertise and stakeholder context to solving business problems, especially related to helping her clients be part of the solution for sustainable food systems.
She has also developed and facilitated sustainability strategies, plans, and goals for industry organizations and global food and agricultural consumer packaged goods companies. Before founding JG Consulting Services to help build trust in U.S. food and agriculture, she served in global leadership roles at Monsanto Company, Kellogg Company, and McCain Foods. Jennifer has a B.S. and M.S. in Animal Science from the University of Kentucky, a Ph.D. in Dairy Nutrition from Virginia Tech, and a GCB.D from Competent Boards (a professional development program for boards, executives, and advisors on how to identify, articulate and confidently act upon the most material ESG aspects of business.)
Thad Simons is the founder and Managing Director of The Yield Lab . He is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Novus International, Inc. Thad currently serves on various non-profit boards including Maryville University, Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital, The Yield Lab Institute (President), and the Advisory Board of the Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience. Thad has also previously served on the boards of Nine Network of Public Media, Grand Center Inc. (Vice-Chair), the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce, Missouri Botanical Gardens, Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis, St. Louis Zoological Association, United Way of St. Louis, Corporate Council on Africa, National Chicken Council, American Feed Industry Association and International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (President). Thad also serves on the board of several AgTech startups e.g. Ascus Biosciences, Ecto. Inc. and Probiotic Holdings, LLC.
Thad’s awards and recognitions include International Businessperson of the Year, World Trade Center of St. Louis, 2001; International Visionary Award, Boeing Institute of International Business, 2007; Heroes of the Planet Award, St. Louis Business Journal, 2009; Entrepreneur of the Year, Central Midwest-Bioscience, Ernst & Young, 2010; Entrepreneur of the Year, National Distribution and Manufacturing, Ernst & Young, 2010; and Agribusiness Leader of the Year, National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA), 2013.
Beginning in the plant industry as a barley breeder, Frank’s 38 years’ experience in the seed industry has expanded to field research, technical management, product development, seed production, sales and marketing, intellectual property management, executive management, and more. He lives in Fort Collins, CO and brings valuable expertise of seed production and intellectual property management. Now retired, Frank spent the majority of his career with Limagrain, the latter half of which rolling out their wheat breeding program in the US.