Meet the Pluton Biosciences Team

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

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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 five 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; a CBO with 30 years of entrepreneurial experience; and a former CTO of a Fortune 50 company.

Our StL team, L to R: Ann Guggisberg, Elizabeth Scherer, Heather Allen, Barry Goldman, Michele Gossett, Farhan William, Kirk Narzinski, Olivia Wertman, Sara Mack, Paul Mack, Ben Wolf, Charlie Walch, Brian Throm

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 food, health 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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Glen Schuster, MBA
Founder, Chief Information Officer, Board Member

As CIO, Schuster leads all data management/architecture projects for Pluton. He is an experienced healthcare executive and entrepreneur with a demonstrated history of success in the information technology and service industries. He is skilled in data analytics, IT and business strategy, innovation and healthcare. Schuster served as CIO for Centene Corporation from 2006-09, and CTO from 2009-18. During his time at Centene, Schuster grew the corporation’s revenue from $1 billion to $50 billion. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois – Urbana and a Master of Business Administration degree from Washington University in St. Louis – Olin Business School.

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Diana Beckman, PhD
Founder

Dr. Beckman co-led Pluton’s proof-of-concept discovery of bacteria active against mosquito larvae, and currently designs research approaches for Micromining®. She has more than 30 years of hands-on, field and administrative experience in biological research. She also has extensive experience in assay design in prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems, gene editing and cloning, as well as lab safety, radiation safety and protocol development.  

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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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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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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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Charlie Walch
Founder, Chief Business Officer

Each day Walch looks forward to bringing Pluton’s vision—mining the power of microbes to deliver a sustainable tomorrow today—into reality. He brings to Pluton more than 29 years of experience starting and running businesses. A lifelong entrepreneur, he excels at building healthy workplace cultures around a compelling vision while developing profitable market-leading services. Before co-founding Pluton, Walch founded 1st Choice Delivery, a full-service delivery company that delivers over 75,000 packages daily. Walch earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.

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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.

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.