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.
Jenny is an accomplished global leader with a diverse background in sales, marketing, customer service, operations and supply chain. Jenny has spent her career in agriculture starting in animal ag and later transitioning to row crop, leading sales and marketing efforts for DEKALB and Asgow. She moved from row crop to work with customers in the vegetable business, leading production planning and customer care for DeRuiter and Seminis seeds. Over the last few years, Jenny has run her own consulting business, Boyd International, focused on helping clients create a more customer-centric approach to their business. Jenny is excited to be a part of the growing hemp industry working with a team that is committed to bringing groundbreaking solutions to farmers and consumers through sound science. She will oversee the New West Genetics’ ongoing customer and supply chain collaborations, and operational needs, to meet and exceed customer expectations.
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.
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 currently lives in Fort Collins, CO and brings valuable expertise of seed production and intellectual property management.
Sarah’s experience in business administration is extensive in both the private and public sectors, she has gained qualifications in IT and Professional Business Management from Australia and the UK. Her motivation lies in seeing the results of building robust business systems and processes in order to maximize efficiency in whatever capacity she can. Sarah prides herself on being at the heart of New West and fostering professional relationships both internally and externally to New West. Sarah spends her spare time with her family, working on craft projects and visiting local breweries with friends.
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.