Meet the Pluton Biosciences Team

We are a multi-talented team of trailblazers, driven to explore beyond the expected and empower world-enhancing change. 

See Our Ground Breaking Story

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DISCOVERING.
PIONEERING.

The Pluton Biosciences team brings together scientists, entrepreneurs, technologists and an advisory board of accomplished biology professors.

Our leadership includes seven PhD-level scientists in the fields of genetics, microbiology and biochemistry; a CEO with more than 30 years of experience in microbial genomics, biotechnology and business leadership; a CSO skilled at computational biology and building world-class microbial discovery pipelines; and a CFO with 25 years of finance experience in multiple AgTech startups.

Our Leadership

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Steven Slater, PhD
Founder, Chief Executive Officer,
Board Member

In his role as CEO, Dr. Slater partners with the scientific and business teams, investors and the broader community to translate Pluton’s proprietary technology into high-performance products that deliver sustainable agriculture and climate solutions. He brings over 30 years’ experience in microbial genomics, biotechnology and business leadership to Pluton. His experience in large biotech at Monsanto, multiple start-ups and as a tenured professor facilitates operation across many disciplines and technical cultures. Dr. Slater holds a PhD in Molecular Microbiology from Case Western Reserve University and was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. He has over 50 publications and patents.

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Kirk Narzinski
Founder, Chief Operating Officer

Narzinski leads daily operations, and facilitates the integration of Pluton’s lab systems and data management efforts. He has more than 25 years of research experience in industry and academia, and more than 15 years of experience leading teams in molecular biology, protein science and laboratory automation at Bayer and Monsanto. He brings to Pluton his unique blend of expertise in biology, automation, and data management, coupled with an enthusiasm for science and team building. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Missouri S&T in Rolla, Missouri.

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Amy Jancewicz, PhD
Chief of Staff

Dr. Jancewicz supports strategic initiatives and communications on behalf of Pluton’s CEO, CSO, and CFO. She is a specialist in supporting both dilutive and non-dilutive funding acquisition for early stage AgTech startups in the US and Canada through the development of technical materials and grant applications. Dr. Jancewicz brings more than 10 years of experience in plant genetics, molecular biology, and biochemistry research, which she previously leveraged for the development of plant protection and sustainability technologies at AmebaGone and Terramera. She is a frequent contributor to the NSF review process, and an enthusiastic mentor of newcomers to STEM. Dr. Jancewicz holds a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology, and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from The University of Connecticut and holds a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology from The University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Barry Goldman, PhD
Founder, Chief Science Officer, Board Member

As Chief Science Office, Dr. Goldman develops scientific strategy for the next generation of microbial discovery at Pluton. He is a results-driven genomic scientist and entrepreneur with a passion for developing innovative, self-directed people and teams that deliver superior results. Prior to founding Pluton, Dr. Goldman led the microbial testing pipeline for Indigo Ag and served as the Microbial Discovery Lead for Monsanto Company. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed studies and is an inventor on more than 10 patents. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany from the University of Washington and holds a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Utah. 

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Ann Guggisberg, PhD
Founder, Director of Research

Dr. Guggisberg designs and manages research approaches and processes for Micromining®, Pluton’s discovery platform. She co-led Pluton’s proof-of-concept discovery of novel larvicidal bacteria. Dr. Guggisberg brings to Pluton more than 10 years of experience in genetics, biochemistry and microbiology research. Previously she worked as a graduate intern in Insect Control at Monsanto Company and as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Washington University in St. Louis, where she led projects to characterize novel mechanisms of metabolic regulation and drug resistance in the parasite that causes malaria. She also has significant experience in scientific publishing and grant writing. Dr. Guggisberg has a Bachelor of Science in Genetics from Clemson University and holds a PhD in Molecular Genetics and Genomics from Washington University in St. Louis.

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Ben Wolf, PhD
Scientist

Dr. Wolf leads Pluton’s development of an all-natural, microbial-based carbon-capture soil amendment for farmers. He is working to isolate new microbial strains and interacting microbial communities that can reduce the

climate impact of the agriculture system in the U.S. In addition to his work with Pluton, Dr. Wolf is co-founder of the horticultural technology company Engine 2 Photonics, LLC. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Plant Biology with a Specialization in Environmental Studies from Michigan State University. He also holds a PhD in Plant and Microbial Biosciences from Washington University in St. Louis, where he studied how novel microbes utilize far-red light to power oxygenic photosynthesis in the lab of Prof. Robert E. Blankenship.

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Elizabeth Gallegos
Chief Financial Officer

Gallegos partners with our leadership team to continue translating our vision and strategy into an operational plan and financial roadmap. Additionally, she works with our internal and external accountants to drive day-to-day financial operations. She brings to Pluton extensive experience in finance, business development, and operations, first at Monsanto, then at a number of successful AgTech startup companies. Gallegos earned a BA from Washington University in St. Louis, and an MBA from the Olin Business School at Washington University.

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Boahemaa Adu-Oppong, PhD
Director of Data Science

Dr. Adu-Oppong designs and maintains bioinformatic pipelines for Micromining, Pluton’s discovery platform, alongside data management and data analytics for various Pluton projects. She contributes more than 10 years of experience in genomics, metagenomics, data science and cloud engineering. She has taught bootcamps on Data Science and Analytics as an Adjunct Instructor at Washington University. She has also worked as a Data Scientist at Bayer Crop Science and as a Field Bioinformatic Scientist at Thermo Fisher Scientific. Dr. Adu-Oppong has a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Rice University and holds a PhD in Evolution, Ecology and Population Biology from Washington University.

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Tayte Campbell, PhD 
Data Scientist 

Dr. Campbell characterizes novel microbial natural products at Pluton, using computational genomics to study microbial communities and isolates. He brings 10 years of experience studying microbial communities, in several environments, using a variety of genomics and transcriptomics methods. Prior to joining Pluton, Dr. Campbell completed a post-doctorate position at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and taught as an adjunct professor at Washington State University. He holds a PhD in Plant and Microbial Bioscience from Washington University in St. Louis, and a BS and MS in Environmental Science from Brigham Young University. 

Our Advisory Board

Gautam Dantas, PhD

Dr. Dantas is a Professor in the Departments of Pathology & Immunology, Biomedical Engineering and Molecular Microbiology, as well as the Center for Genome Sciences & Systems Biology at Washington University. He is a world expert on microbial genomics, ecology and physiology.

Roy Welch, PhD

Dr. Welch is a Professor of Biology at Syracuse University. He is an expert in microbial physiology, behavior and genomics.

Audrey Odom John, MD PhD

Dr. Odom John is Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She is an expert in microbial metabolism, drug development and molecular biology.