Virtual Poultry Tech Summit 2020 speakers and panelists

Paul Aho, Ph.D., president, Poultry Perspective

Aho, a native of Connecticut, is an international poultry economist. His educational training consists of a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University, an master’s degree in international agribusiness from Arizona State University and a Ph.D. in poultry economics from Michigan State University. His work experience spans 30 years and includes academic positions in Poultry Departments at Cornell University and the University of Georgia and agribusiness experience at two poultry breeding companies. He operates his own consulting company called Poultry Perspective. In that role, he works around the world with poultry managers and government policy makers.

Gordan Butland, director, G&S Agriconsultant Co. Ltd.

Butland is currently the director at G&S Agriconsultant Co. Ltd. He moved into banking in 1986, and in 1989 he started his association with Rabobank International. In 2004, he retired from the bank and now has advisory positions with companies all along the poultry supply chain on every continent. The advisory covers both strategic and data analysis areas.

Brandon Caroll, Ph.D. co-founder, AudioT

Caroll is the co-founder of AudioT, which uses acoustics, machine learning and signal processing in poultry farm monitoring. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brigham Young University and received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the Georgia Tech Research Institute.

Scott Carter, Ph.D., vice president of microbials, Phibro Animal Health

Carter earned his Ph.D. from North Carolina State University in nutrition and biotechnology with a focus on the production and application of enzymes to livestock diets to enhance the utilization of feed, and his MBA from Washington University in Saint Louis. He joined Phibro Animal Health as the vice president of microbials in February of 2020, with prior work experiences ranging from startups to large animal health and nutrition companies and roles from sales and marketing to R&D. He believes the application of microbiome science to food and companion animal health is a vital emerging field that will help to solve many key problems.

Simon Cohen, chief marketing and sales officer, MTech Systems USA, LLC

A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Cohen received his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Southern University. Previously, he worked with Systemate, where he helped innovate the design of poultry processing plants. He is now chief marketing and sales officer and shareholder with MTech Systems and is responsible for transforming its profile from a regional company in the Southeastern United States to a global industry leader in agribusiness software.

Parker Cole, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, Nanomatronix LLC

Cole is leading efforts at Nanomatronix in commercialization of their Avian Immunology Dermatological Test Service (AvIDT). He holds a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and biochemistry and a minor in business management. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering focusing on bone tissue engineering and two graduate certificates: Professional Awareness, Advancement and Development (PAAD) and Lean Six Sigma.

Aidan Connolly, president, AgriTech Capital

Connolly is the president of AgriTech Capital, an advisory, consulting and investor that counts the British government, startups and corporate agribusinesses among its clients, and CEO of Cainthus, a startup computer vision system for recognizing and managing livestock. Previously he was with Alltech for 28 years, most recently as chief innovation officer. Connolly is an adjunct professor of marketing at the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin and is a visiting professor at the MBA program of the China Agricultural University. Connolly holds an MBA in international marketing from the Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, University College Dublin.

Paul Cuatrecasas, CEO and founder, Aquaa Partners

Cuatrecasas is the CEO and founder of Aquaa Partners, an investment banking firm based in London. Over the past 28 years, Cuatrecasas has completed over 45 merger and acquisition transactions around the world worth more than 25 billion dollars and over 60 corporate finance advisory and strategic consultancy assignments. He is the author of “Go Tech, or Go Extinct” in which he shares his approach to transforming legacy companies through the strategic acquisition of disruptive technology companies.

Tom Darbonne, CEO, AudioT

Darbonne is the CEO of AudioT, which uses acoustics, machine learning and signal processing in poultry farm monitoring.

Osler Desouzart, CEO, OD Consulting, Market Planning & Strategy

Desouzart is the CEO of OD Consulting, Market Planning & Strategy, a consulting company with customers in more than 37 countries. He specializes in the international marketing of meat, having worked for some of the largest pork and poultry companies in Brazil. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the World Agriculture Forum and a team member of The Sustainable Food Laboratory. In 2014, he was recognized by the Brazilian Association of Poultry Producers for his contributions to the country’s poultry industry.

Paul Fox, general manager, 8th Avenue Food & Provisions and member of the Yield Lab Advisory Board

Fox has served in a variety of executive roles in the food and protein industries including COO of the Maschoffs , CEO of OK Foods and responsibility for Tyson’s international operating companies. He began his professional career as a production supervisor at a Tyson chicken plant. Fox has experienced working in private equity funded turn arounds of food companies.

Gage Greening, chief technology officer, Nanomatronix

Greening is the chief technology officer at Nanomatronix. He is helping lead the commercialization efforts for the Avian Immunology Dermatological Test (AvIDT) platform, as well as other innovations in Nanomatronix’s biotechnology strategic business unit. He received his bachelor’s degree and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Arkansas.

Jason Guss, Ph.D., CEO, Iterate Labs

Guss earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Cornell University. His Ph.D. focused on biomechanics and orthopedics, where he helped to develop a repetitive loading injury model. He is the winner of the three-minute thesis competition at Cornell, has six journal publications to date, a National Institute of Standards and Technology summer fellow, ASBMR Young Investigator Awardee, and Orthopedic Research Society Preclinical Models Section Podium Awardee. He is currently a leader in the Industry 4.0 sector and is CEO of Iterate Labs.

Kshitij (Tij) Gupta, Head of Platform & Business Development, Evonik

Kshitij (Tij) is a digital business executive, who has helped transform a handful of businesses and industries over the past 20 years, while wearing several hats – entrepreneur, investor and M&A advisor. He was trained as an engineer in India, underwent executive training at MIT Sloan School of Management and is member of the MIT Tech Review Global Panel. Tij is based in the Frankfurt region in Germany.

Comas Haynes, Ph.D., research faculty, Georgia Tech Research Institute

Haynes is a faculty member of the Georgia Tech Research Institute and former Joint Faculty Appointee at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His research includes modeling steady state and transient behavior of advanced energy systems, inclusive of their thermal management, and the characterization and optimization of novel cycles. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida A&M University and earned an master’s degree and Ph.D from Georgia Tech, all in mechanical engineering.

Charles Hofacre, DVM, Ph.D., president, Southern Poultry Research Group

Hofacre holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, a master’s degree in poultry science and doctorate in veterinary medicine from Ohio State University. He also has a master’s degree in avian medicine and a Ph.D. in veterinary medical microbiology from the University of Georgia. He has held positions as director of veterinary medicine at a turkey production company, Cuddy Farms, served seven years as a vice president and member of the board of directors for Ross Breeders, and as the manager of technical service for Bayer’s poultry business in the U.S. Hofacre served as the executive vice president of the American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP) from 2003 to 2016. He retired from the University of Georgia after 19 years as a professor in the Department of Population Health and the Director of Clinical Services for the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center in Athens, Georgia. In May 2013, Hofacre and his wife started a private contract research company, The Southern Poultry Research Group, near Athens, Georgia.

Ramin Karimpour, CEO and founder, Applied LifeSciences & Systems

Karimpour is the architect of over 140 innovative and commercially successfully launched bio-systems and industrial automation products. He has held various executive positions and led business operations, R&D, engineering, and sales teams for Dolan Jenner Industries, Applied Science & Technology, PerkinElmer, Kodak Molecular Imaging, MIDAS Vision Systems, Spire Corporation, Pfizer, and Zoetis. He received his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in electrical engineering from Boston University and post-graduate certifications from Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts in Plasma Processing and Executive Management.

Yiannis Kaznessis, CEO, General Probiotics Inc.

Kaznessis is the founder of General Probiotics. He joined the company as CEO in 2017. He received a diploma in chemical engineering at the Aristotle University in Greece in 1994, and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Notre Dame in 1999. He completed postdoctoral research at Pfizer Global R&D, and at the University of Michigan. He is an expert in synthetic biology and antimicrobial technologies, authoring more than 110 refereed papers and the textbook, “Statistical Thermodynamics and Stochastic Kinetics.”

Sharmeen Khan, chief marketing officer, Oppsmart

Khan started her career in retail management where she was responsible for selection and acquisition of products for The Compliment, a large reseller of leather and travel products. She then became responsible first for the facility security management and then business development and marketing during her time as the executive vice president of TFS Group. She currently functions as the head of marketing for Opssmart and is intricately involved in planning and execution of marketing strategy of the company. Khan has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and an master’d degree in technology management from the University of Maryland.

Richard Kottmeyer, managing director, FTI Consulting

Kottmeyer is the global food, agriculture and beverage leader at FTI Consulting. Previously, he worked with major poultry retailers and integrators to provide advice on “Farm to Fork” best practices and has acted as a food policy advisor at Wall Street investment banks, global accounting firms and commercial banks. Kottmeyer has 20 years of consumer insight and best practices from over a dozen consumer-oriented sectors, nearly two dozen leading multinational brands, and experience in most major agricultural and food subsectors.

Steve Lerch, founder and president, Story Arc Consulting

Lerch is a digital strategy and marketing consultant and an award-winning, international public speaker. He spent nine years working for Google where he helped various clients with digital strategy, marketing and strategic business planning. In early 2019, Lerch left Google to found Story Arc Consulting, where he now brings his unique perspective on innovation and the digital world to various conferences, events, and board meetings, as well as to consulting clients in the food, agriculture, and non-profit sectors, including the American Egg Board, National Pork Board and National Cattleman’s Beef Association.

Claire Lewis, CEO, Pondus Technology

Lewis is founder of Pondus Technology, providing technologies applying image processing and machine learning to solve some of the biggest problems in the livestock industry with a specific focus on poultry production. Operating across the supply chain, Lewis has developed clear intel of the missing technology and information links to significantly improve supply chain operations, sustainability and profitability for all chain partners. She’s a highly motivated individual always striving to have a high positive impact in her operations.

Aditya Madhavan, business consultant, MTech Systems USA LLC

Madhavan comes to MTech Systems after having studied aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech. He has spent more than eight years in roles from project management to business analyst. Madhavan now brings his experience over to the sales team, helping grow MTech to be a global force.

Gary McMurray, interim IRIM executive director and associate director, Collaborative Robotics and Division chief, principal research engineer, Food Processing Technology Division, Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI)

McMurray has led the development of advanced robotic systems for the food, transportation and biomedical industries. He oversees the GTRI Division that conducts significant industrial research under Georgia’s Traditional Industries Program and leads the Division’s efforts for identifying and marketing new research opportunities.

Terrence O’Keefe, Content Director, WATT Global Media

O’Keefe began his association with the poultry industry in graduate school and has been working with and writing about poultry for 36 years. In his role as content director with WATT Global Media, O’Keefe leads a team of 24 reporters, editors and artists who cover the world’s poultry, animal feed and pet food industries. He has written for and edited publications covering the broiler, turkey and egg industries. Prior to joining WATT, he worked for broiler and turkey companies in variety of live production and processing roles including serving as manager for broiler and turkey slaughter and deboning plants. O’Keefe earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at the College of William & Mary, a master’s degree in poultry science at the Pennsylvania State University and an MBA at James Madison University.

Joy Parr Drach, president and CEO, Advanced Animal Diagnostics

Parr Drach is president and CEO of Advanced Animal Diagnostics (AAD), her second start-up. She brings the experience of a seasoned ag marketer having helped launch more than 30 new products. She also has the perspective of a livestock producer, her family cattle farm is her ‘weekend job.’ Parr Drach started at AAD when the company consisted of three people and an idea and has built a successful team, secured leading venture capital and commercial partners. She serves on several boards promoting entrepreneurship and agriculture. Parr Drach has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and MBA from the University of Chicago.

Will Payne, Ph.D., Chief technology officer, Simple Ag Solutions Inc.

Payne earned a Ph.D. of pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a master’s degree of biomedical engineering from Wake Forest University and an MBA from the University of Nebraska. He brings more than 15 years of experience in software engineering and specializes in blockchain architecture. His personal experience and understanding of animal agriculture allows him a unique perspective to create novel software that provides accurate and scalable solutions to real-world production challenges.

Maxine Roper, CEO and co-founder, Connecting Food

Roper is the CEO and co-founder of Connecting Food, a FoodTech company providing a food transparency blockchain, based in Paris, France. She previously worked in C-level positions for various global food and beverage companies, notably Mars, Nestlé, Sara Lee and Bonne Maman, in both the UK and in France.

Evan Sadlon, lead data scientist, MTech Systems USA LLC

Sadlon graduated Georgia Tech with his bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and is currently pursuing his master’s degree at his alma mater for computer science with a focus on machine learning. Sadlon has five years of experience in the poultry field, and he is currently the lead data scientist at MTech Systems.

David Speller, CEO, OptiFarm

Starting with one farm of 160,000 broilers in 2004, Speller has built a business that today is not only supporting businesses globally but is also farming multiple broiler sites around the UK. Speller has always adopted new thinking to existing challenges from the start and is recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on poultry technologies and digital solutions. Speller and his businesses are involved in extensive research and innovation projects both in the UK and internationally, ensuring that innovation and new thinking remains at the core of his business.

Daniel Venne, DVM, Veterinarian, Couvoir Scott ltée

Venne is a second-generation poultry veterinarian. He received his DVM and a master’s degree in pathology and microbiology from the University of Montreal. He has published and presented articles on maternal antibody decline and vaccination, biosecurity and biochemical profiling of poultry. He is also the co-editor of the “Manual of Poultry Diseases,” which has been translated into four languages. He is a course master for the Poultry course of the World Education in Production Animal Health course (WVEPAH), available in many countries across the world.

Gregory A. Watt, president and chief executive officer, WATT Global Media 

Gregory A. Watt is president and chief executive officer of WATT Global Media where he directs the company’s strategic vision, corporate culture initiatives, revenue growth and acquisition selection/integration. Watt is the fourth generation to lead the company, which was founded in 1917 by James W. Watt, his great-grandfather. A graduate of Western Illinois University, Watt has a bachelor’s degree in business with an emphasis in marketing. He serves on the advisory board of the Associated Bank Rockford Region. He is a past board member of BPA International, the Software Industry & Information Association (SIIA), Connectiv the Business Information Association and the Connectiv Business Media Educational Foundation. Watt is involved in local charitable groups including the Board of Directors for the Element Rockford.

Philip Wilkinson, executive director, 2 Sisters Food Group

In 2006, Wilkinson joined 2 Sisters Food Group as executive director. He is also a director of the Red Tractor Poultry Sector Board and the British Poultry Council and serves as a vice president and council member of AVEC (the Association of Poultry Processors and Poultry Trade in the EU). He is a past director of Inghams, a poultry integrator in Australia and New Zealand, a past non-executive director of Cogent, a ruminant genetics company based in England and has extensive experience working with companies in lighting and sensors for the poultry and swine industry, insect genetics and animal feeds.