top of page

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

HandPetri_edited.jpg

DISCOVERING.
PIONEERING.

The Pluton Biosciences team brings together scientists, entrepreneurs, technologists, and an advisory board of accomplished scientists with a shared passion for protecting our climate, our planet and the people who call it home. 

Our executive team includes start-up leaders with successful exits, PhD-level scientists in the fields of genetics, microbiology, and biochemistry; a CEO with extensive AgTech start-up experience in finance, business development, fund raising and operations, a CSO skilled at computational biology and building world-class microbial discovery pipelines; and a COO with deep expertise in molecular biology, laboratory automation, and data management as well as an Executive Chair with deep industry leadership experience in large and small companies.

Our Leadership

Elizabeth2.jpg

Elizabeth Gallegos
Chief Executive Officer

Gallegos leads Pluton’s team, translating our scientific vision and business strategy into an operational plan for the company. She brings to Pluton extensive experience in finance, business development, and operations, first at Monsanto, then at several successful AgTech startup companies, including as Founder and CFO of Impetus Ag, and Founder, CFO, and COO of Plastomics. Gallegos earned a BA from Washington University in St. Louis, and an MBA from the Olin Business School at Washington University.

KirkN.jpg

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.

BrianT.jpg

Brian Throm 
Project and Strategy Manager

Throm performs business and market analysis, while assisting the team in improving lab systems. Before joining Pluton/MiL, he worked as a Global Emerging Markets Analyst Intern for Monsanto Growth Ventures. Throm earned a Master of Business Administration degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in Bioengineering from the University of Missouri, where he was named an MU Innovation Center Entrepreneurial Scholar.

BarryG.jpg

Barry Goldman, PhD
Founder, CSO and President
Board Member

As Chief Science Officer, 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. 

BoahemmaA_edited.jpg

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.

Sharon.png

Sharon A. Berberich 
Senior Director,
Pipeline Management 

Berberich is an experienced Ag Business executive, with over 30 years’ experience in food and agriculture. She brings deep expertise in executive leadership & strategy, business development, product development, marketing, licensing, venture capital investment, regulatory, intellectual property, and field operations. Prior to joining Pluton, Berberich contributed to successes at Monsanto, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and Dow AgroSciences. Additionally, she built and led the US Operations for Kaiima Bio Agritech, led both Plastomics and Impetus Agriculture as CEO, and supported Aker Technologies as Business Development Lead. Berberich earned a BS in Biochemistry and Agriculture from The University of Missouri. 

BenW.jpg

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.

Our Board of Directors

Jerry Steiner, Executive Chair

Raised on his family’s Wisconsin farm, Steiner has spent his 40-plus year career in agriculture. At Monsanto he worked in sales, product management, business leadership in the U.S. and Europe, and leadership of Corporate Strategy. He also served as EVP and on the Executive Team responsible for Sustainability and Global External Affairs. After retiring from Monsanto, he co-founded and served as CEO of CoverCress, then led its successful sale in 2022. He also served as Executive Chair of RNAgri through its sale and is now Executive Chair of Stony Creek Colors, and a board member of Albemarle Corporation. Steiner has enhanced industry stewardship through unique collaborations including Field to Market with the Gates Foundation, and CIMMYT for drought-tolerant maize for Africa. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wisconsin, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Washington University in St. Louis. 

Clay Mitchell

Mitchell is co-founder and Managing Director of Fall Line Capital. He is a fifth-generation Iowa farmer who has spent his entire career becoming one of the most innovative, progressive and respected farmers in the world. He has been featured in many publications, including Time and Wired magazines, for his progressive farming techniques and has participated several times at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Clay earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering from Harvard College and a Master’s degree in Agronomy from Cornell University, where he was a Saltonstall Fellow in Agronomy.

Barry Goldman, PhD

Dr. Goldman 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. 

Neal Gutterson, PhD

Dr. Gutterson is a Partner and CTO of Radicle Growth, an early stage sustainable ag and food venture fund, and former CTO for Corteva Agriscience, where he unified three R&D organizations from the legacy companies. He is committed to helping organizations develop innovations that create value for farmers, their customers and communities, in planet-friendly ways. Dr. Gutterson is currently a System Board member of CGIAR. He also works with several technology-based start-up companies in advisory and board roles, helping to maximize the value of their technology by understanding downstream needs and developing new business models. Dr. Gutterson’s experience includes senior research and development roles at ag biotechnology start-up companies. He served as President, CEO and Board member of Mendel Biotechnology, then joined DuPont Pioneer in 2014. He has a passion for enriching the lives of smallholder farmers through collaborative innovation, and is committed to improving inclusion and diversity.

Charles Lin, PhD

Dr. Lin is a Principal at Illumina Ventures with 15 years of wide-ranging experience in life science and genomics. Most recently he was Vice President of Business Development and Marketing at startup Element Biosciences, where he helped raise $80M in Series B financing and form foundations for critical supplier relationships, plus go-to-market and partnering strategy. Previously, at Illumina, Inc. Dr. Lin served in several R&D and business roles, including leading cross-functional teams developing microarray and sequencing applications for research and clinical purposes; working in Corporate Development, focusing on M&A, emerging business areas and corporate investment opportunities; and leading the $100M acquisition of Edico Genome. Dr. Lin earned a Bachelor of Science degree from National Taiwan University, and holds a PhD in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from Harvard University. During his postdoctoral training he discovered a new family of arrestin-related ubiquitin-ligase adapters that regulate endocytosis and protein turnover at the cell surface.

Michael Gillespie, MD

Dr. Gillespie is an Analyst on the Venture Team at RA Capital Management, where he conducts due diligence on biotechnology companies. At RA Capital Management he has also worked closely with the Investment Team to originate conviction in potential investments by identifying breakthroughs and putting data into context, as well as advising portfolio companies on many aspects of program and pipeline strategy. Dr. Gillespie’s previous experience includes venture development at Health Wildcatters Seed Accelerator and product development in various roles at the Institute for Environmental and Exercise Medicine. He has also worked as an Aerospace Medicine Clerk for NASA. Dr. Gillespie earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from Brigham Young University and holds an MD from the University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine.

Elizabeth Gallegos

Gallegos leads Pluton’s team, translating our scientific vision and business strategy into an operational plan for the company. She brings to Pluton extensive experience in finance, business development, and operations, first at Monsanto, then at several successful AgTech startup companies, including as Founder and CFO of Impetus Ag, and Founder, CFO, and COO of Plastomics. Gallegos earned a BA from Washington University in St. Louis, and an MBA from the Olin Business School at Washington 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.

Kelly Gillespie, PhD

Dr. Gillespie, is Vice President of Digital Ecosystem Services at Climate LLC and Digital Farming at Bayer Crop Science. Through growth and adoption, Climate LLC and Bayer’s digital platform and offerings lead the industry with a comprehensive, connected suite of tools that help farmers make data-driven decisions to increase their productivity. She is an Executive Board member of the North American Plant Phenotyping Network and has worked at Bayer Crop Science as Global Crop Efficiency R&D Portfolio Lead.

Kelly Wrighton, PhD

Dr. Wrighton is an Associate Professor of Soil Microbiomes at Colorado State University. As Principal Investigator of the Wrighton Lab, a microbiome research group interested in the study of microorganisms, their genomes, and the surrounding environment, she is leading research focused on how microorganisms contribute to ecosystem processes, with a particular interest in carbon and nitrogen cycling.

Thanks to Our Founders

You had the vision to see potential. And more important, the passion to act. Because of you, Pluton Biosciences is changing the world, for the better.  

Charlie Walch Diana Beckman Barry Goldman Ann Guggisberg Kirk Narzinski

bottom of page