Speakers 2019

Dr. Randall Prather

Since 1982 Dr. Prather’s research has focused on the early mammalian embryo. He obtained his BS and MS from Kansas State University, and PhD and Postdoc from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While at Wisconsin, he cloned the first pigs, and some of the first cattle, by nuclear transfer. His group at the University of Missouri created miniature pigs that have the alpha 1,3 galactosyltransferase gene knocked out, thus paving the way for xenotransplantation. His group helped to develop pigs that have cystic fibrosis, thus providing the first whole-animal model that can be used to study the disease.

More recently, his lab created pigs that are not susceptible to porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus and others resistant to the transmissible gastroenteritis virus. His lab at Mizzou has made over 76 different genetic modifications for agriculture and medicine. He is the Director of the NIH-funded National Swine Resource and Research Center.  In addition to his transgenic pig research, he and his collaborators have identified genes in the reproductive tissues of pigs and cattle that will help develop an understanding of the pattern of gene expression to reduce the 30% loss of pregnancies that naturally occurs in mammals. He is currently a Curators’ Distinguished Professor in the Division of Animal Science at the University of Missouri.

Dr. Kan Wang

Professor Kan Wang graduated with her BS in Biochemistry from Fudan University in Shanghai, China. She was sponsored first by the Chinese government then by the Rockefeller Foundation to conduct graduate study under the supervision of Drs. Marc Van Montagu (2013 World Food Prize Laureate) and late Jeff Schell in Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium, the first group that discovered and engineered Agrobacterium tumefaciens for plant genetic transformation. Her PhD study and postdoctoral research were focused on the molecular mechanisms of the T-DNA transfer from Agrobacterium tumefaciens to plant cells. She is regarded as one of the pioneers in understanding the mechanism of DNA transfer from Agrobacterium to plants (Wang et al., Cell, 1984; Science 1987), a fundamental knowledge that became the corner stone for building of tools for plant genetic transformation. Dr. Wang spent 7 years in ICI seeds (now Syngenta) as a project leader in genetic transformation of corn and soybean. In 1996, she took a position at Iowa State University and established the first public crop transformation facility, which provides genetic transformation services of corn, soybean, and rice for the research communities. Her current research interests include exploring novel plant genetic transformation and genome editing technologies, investigating CRISPR off-target activities and understanding the functional roles of Agrobacterium non-coding RNAs.

Dr. Wang is a Global Professor of Biotechnology in the Department of Agronomy, and Co-Director of the Crop Bioengineering Center at Iowa State University. Dr. Wang was the winner of 2015 Iowa Women of Innovation Awards for Research Innovation and Leadership for her soybean transformation method. This invention also earned her 2017 Iowa State University Award for Achievement in Intellectual Property. Dr. Wang is a fellow for the Society of In Vitro Biology.

Dr. Gregory Graff

Gregory D. Graff is a professor of the economics of innovation and entrepreneurship in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, at Colorado State University. Raised in Cincinnati Ohio, in a family that had four generations in the food and oils business of Procter & Gamble, he internalized the principles of science-based innovation with a strong consumer focus. Dr. Graff’s work today looks at the economics and public policy of technological innovation and entrepreneurship broadly in the agricultural and food industries globally. He writes about intellectual property rights, technology transfer, venture capital, startups, and other aspects of innovation up and down the agricultural value chain, with a particular expertise on innovation in agricultural genetics and biotechnology. He is widely published in the economics literature, as well as in leading scientific journals such as Science and Nature Biotechnology. At CSU, Dr. Graff teaches courses on the global agricultural and food system, on agricultural policy, on entrepreneurship, and on the economics of technological change and productivity improvements in agriculture. Dr. Graff received his Bachelors in Biological Sciences from Cornell University in 1992, a Masters from Ohio State University in 1995, and a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from University of California Berkeley in 2002. Dr. Graff and his family own and operate Laughing Buck Farm on the outskirts of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Dr. Edward Cargill

Dr. Edward Cargill is currently the Applied Cell Biology Lead in Plant Biotechnology and a Science Fellow at Bayer Crop Science. He received his B.S. in Animal Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and his Ph.D. in Genetics from the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program at Texas A&M University. Dr. Cargill is currently leading a team of scientists working on genome editing and plant transformation. Since working for Bayer Crop Science (and formerly Monsanto), Dr. Cargill became an Adjunct Assistant Professor with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2016.

Dr. Cargill began working for Monsanto Animal Ag in 2006 researching dairy cattle traits, and transitioned to crop research at Monsanto in 2008. He spent the next 5 years working with engineers, scientists, and breeders to further develop Monsanto’s seed chipping technologies, double haploid corn process, and molecular detection methods. Dr. Cargill then transitioned to lead a team of discovery breeders in Monsanto’s Plant Breeding organization, which focused on breeding methodology, traits, phenotyping, and agronomic practices towards contributing improvements to the breeding pipeline. As gene editing technology became prevalent, he began leading a team of breeders and scientists at the intersection of the Plant Breeding and Biotechnology organizations to develop and implement editing technology in the breeding pipeline until transitioning to his current role.

As an Adjunct Assistant Professor with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Dr. Cargill serves as a faculty committee member for graduate students working full-time in industry while pursuing advanced degrees. His teams have also hosted multiple summer interns and co-op students. Dr. Cargill has also championed multiple collaborations between academic researchers and Monsanto, which he looks to continue doing with Bayer Crop Science. He also actively participates as a mentor to colleagues through Bayer Crop Science leadership development programs. Dr. Cargill is also an advocate for women in science as he actively participates in advancing equality for women in STEM and leadership roles.

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