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 scientists with a shared passion for protecting our climate, our planet and the people who call it home.  

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 COO with deep expertise in molecular biology, laboratory automation, and data management.

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
Business & Science Program Strategist

Dr. Jancewicz supports the program and communication needs of Pluton’s business, science and strategic initiatives. 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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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.

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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, Vice President 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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Lynn Ferrari, GPHR
People and Culture Leader

Ferrari leads our people and culture strategy through the delivery of performance- and engagement-based HR programs, executive and team performance coaching, and spearheads our DEI platform and initiatives. She adds to the Pluton team 30 years of experience resolving complex business challenges through HR delivery of: Talent Acquisition, Recruiting and Workforce Planning, Talent and Performance Management, Learning and Development, HR Operations/PMO, Organizational Development and Effectiveness, Behavioral Change Management, Employee Relations/Labor Relations, Total Rewards/Compensation, and Merger and Acquisition planning. During her extensive career as an executive HR partner for companies including Amazon, Starbucks, and Edwards Lifesciences she has been recognized for deep business acumen; exceptional hands-on leadership; and building values-based cultures in technology, financial services, and retail sectors. Ferrari is Global Professional in Human Resources® (GPHR®) | Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Leading Organizations and Change Certified.

Our Board of Directors

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. 

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.

Steve Slater, PhD

Dr. Slater 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.

Wes Selke

A founding partner of Better Ventures, Selke enjoys rolling up his sleeves to help mission-driven entrepreneurs realize their vision for building high-growth world-changing companies. He has over 20 years of venture capital and investment experience with Better Ventures, Good Capital, William Blair, and Ernst & Young's Mergers & Acquisitions group. He has also volunteered with organizations around the globe, which has fueled his passion for applying his business skills to build a better world. Selke earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and a Bachelor of Business Arts degree from the University of Michigan. 

Glen Schuster, MBA

Schuster 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. A former CIO for Pluton, Schuster also 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.

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