EDGE Advisory Committee
Manager, Oklahoma Life Sciences Fund and Venture Partner, Sevin Rosen Funds
Dr. William Paiva serves as manager of the Oklahoma Life Sciences Fund (OSLF) and a venture partner for the Sevin Rosen Funds, which has over $2 billion under management. A resident of Tulsa, Dr. Paiva brings a broad range of knowledge from experiences within management consulting, pharmaceutical industry, and investment banking. The Oklahoma Life Sciences Fund was founded in 2000 while Dr. Paiva was a partner with Chisholm Private Capital. The OLSF portfolio companies, which were built on Oklahoma technologies, have attracted over $150 million in venture capital. This accounts for approximately two-thirds of venture capital attracted to the state of Oklahoma. Prior to joining Chisholm Private Capital, Dr. Paiva was a management consultant at Pittiglio, Rabin, Todd & McGrath, providing business strategy and process consulting services to large pharmaceutical companies, including Merck, Searle, and Monsanto. He also served as an investment banking associate at JP Morgan in New York. Prior to his work in industry, he completed his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Oklahoma while conducting his dissertation research at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF). Afterward, he attended Dartmouth College, where he received his MBA from the Tuck School of Business. In addition, Dr. Paiva serves on the Institute for the Study of Aging Business Advisory Board and University of Oklahoma’s Price School of Business Board of Advisors and their executive committee. BACK TO LIST
Co-Director of the Institute for Digital Biology
Hearin Distinguished Professor
Mississippi State University
Susan Bridges co-founded the Institute for Digital Biology (IDB) at Mississippi State (MSU) with Dr. Shane Burgess and Dr. Dawn Luthe. She currently serves as Co-Director of the IDB and as a Distinguished Fellow of the MSU Life Science and Biotechnology Institute. The IDB maintains the AgBase database, an international resource for Gene Ontology annotation of agricultural species. Dr. Bridges holds a B.S. and M.S. in biology and an M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science. In addition to her position as Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at MSU, she also holds adjunct appointments in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and in the Department of Basic Science in the College of Veterinary Medicine. She has authored over seventy-five scientific papers and funding for her research program totals over $16,000,000. Her current research is funded by the USDA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Her research focuses on data mining from hetereogenous genomic, trascriptomic and proteomic data and on new methods in proteomics.
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Senior Vice President and Director of the Plant Biology Division
The Noble Foundation
Richard A. Dixon is Senior Vice President, Professor, and Director of the Plant Biology Division at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. He also holds Adjunct Professorships at Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin, Washington State University, and the University of Oklahoma. He received his Bachelor’s and Doctoral degrees in Biochemistry and Botany from Oxford University (UK), and postdoctoral training in Plant Biochemistry at Cambridge University (UK). He was awarded the Doctor of Science degree for his research achievements by Oxford University in 2004. His research interests center on molecular biology and metabolic engineering of plant natural product pathways. He has published over 350 papers on these and related topics in international journals, and has been named by the Institute for Scientific Information as one of the 10 most cited authors in the plant and animal sciences. Professor Dixon is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal BioEnergy Research, and a member of the Editorial Boards of four other international journals. He is Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, was elected to membership of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2007. BACK TO LIST
Meteorologist, Duke Energy Corporation
Steve Leyton, an American Meteorological Society (AMS) member, and an AMS Certified Consulting Meteorologist, is a meteorologist for Duke Energy Corporation in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is the lead weather forecaster for the Carolinas' regulated portfolio optimization trading floor and also supports many other business units within the company, including wind generation and power delivery. Prior to joining Duke Energy, he was a research meteorologist at the University of Oklahoma's Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, where his primary interests were statistical modeling and the economic impacts of weather.
Mr. Leyton has B.S. and M.S. degrees in meteorology from Pennsylvania State University and a M.A. in applied economics from University of Oklahoma, and is an AMS Certified Consulting Meteorologist.
Chief Executive Officer and Board Member, CONNECT
San Diego, California
Duane J. Roth is the chief executive officer and member of the board of CONNECT, a globally recognized public benefits organization fostering entrepreneurship in the San Diego region by catalyzing, accelerating, and supporting the growth of the most promising technology and life sciences innovation. Focused on assisting start-up companies in the San Diego region, CONNECT has been directly involved with over 1,500 companies since its inception in 1985.
Prior to joining CONNECT, Mr. Roth founded Alliance Pharmaceutical Corporation where he currently serves as chief executive officer and chairman of the board. Prior to Alliance, Mr. Roth held senior management positions at Johnson & Johnson and Wyeth operating companies. He has served as a member of the board of directors and executive committees of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the California Healthcare Institute (CHI), and BIOCOM (past chair). Mr. Roth serves on a number of advisory committees and boards of the University of California, including the President’s Board on Science and Innovation, the UCSD Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center (past chair), the UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the Preuss Charter School (chair), California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), and the UC San Diego Foundation Board (past chair). Mr. Roth is active in the San Diego community, serving on the board of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (past chair), the San Diego State University College of Business (past chair), San Diego State University Sciences & Engineering Dean’s Advisory Board, and as co-chair of the Regional Housing Working Group. Mr. Roth was appointed to the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee for the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he also serves as a member on the Governor’s Commission for Jobs and Economic Growth.
Mr. Roth is a graduate of Iowa Wesleyan College, where he serves as a trustee. BACK TO LIST
Don Thomas was born in Cleveland, Ohio, where he received a bachelor of science degree with honors in physics from Case Western Reserve University. He holds a master of science degree and a doctorate in materials science from Cornell University.
From 1982-87 Dr. Thomas was a senior member of the technical staff at the Bell Laboratories Engineering Research Center in Princeton, New Jersey, where he worked on materials development for semiconductor device interconnections. He holds two patents in the field of electronics packaging. From there he went on to work for NASA as a materials engineer at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where he worked on lifetime projection analyses of advanced pressure vessels that would be later used on the International Space Station. He was also a Co-Principal Investigator for the Microgravity Disturbances Experiment that flew on the STS-32 space shuttle mission in 1990 that investigated the effects of small vibrations on the growth of crystals in space.
In 1990 he was selected in NASA’s 13th group of astronauts. During his career at NASA he flew as a mission specialist on four different Space Shuttle missions, three of which were dedicated science missions where he helped perform hundreds of different experiments exploring microgravity phenomenon. From 1999-2000 he was the NASA Director of Operations at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, and oversaw the training of astronauts preparing for missions to the International Space Station. From 2003-2006, Dr. Thomas was the International Space Station Program Scientist and was responsible for the planning and scheduling of science activities aboard the ISS.
In August 2007 Dr. Thomas joined Towson University outside of Baltimore where he is an adjunct faculty member and the founding director of the Hackerman Academy of Mathematics and Science, an outreach program targeting elementary, middle, and high school students across the state of Maryland to get them more interested in careers in math and science. BACK TO LIST
William H. VerDuin
Executive Director, Wright Center for Sensor Systems Engineering
The Wright Center for Sensor Systems Engineering is funded by the State of Ohio to accomplish technology-based economic development. As Executive Director since 2008, Mr. VerDuin has provided leadership, direction, oversight and operational oversight to develop and commercialize advanced sensor, instrumentation and controls technology. He has redefined the Center’s business model to more clearly focus on providing economic development benefits through growth of technology-based businesses and more robust partnerships between universities and large and small companies.
Mr. VerDuin’s engineering and management background includes BS and MSME, Carnegie-Mellon, engineering positions at Ford Motor and General Electric involving design, development, and commissioning of automation and robotic systems. As Deputy Director of the Center for Automation and Intelligent Systems Research at Case Western Reserve University, he tripled corporate and Federal funding of computer and robotic R&D programs. He then spun off university-based artificial intelligence technology, growing two companies based on that and related technology.
Mr. VerDuin is the President of the regional Mercedes Benz club, and has held the presidency and chairmanship of church and Habitat for Humanity boards. He chaired the second largest United Church of Christ capital campaign and quadrupled the local Habitat for Humanity building program. BACK TO LIST
Director, Oil and Gas Conservation Division
Oklahoma Corporation Commission
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Lori Wrotenbery came to Oklahoma in 2004 to accept the position of Director of the Oil and Gas Conservation Division for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The Oil and Gas Conservation Division regulates oil and gas drilling and production operations in Oklahoma to conserve oil and gas resources and protect the environment.
Before moving to Oklahoma, Lori served as Director of the Oil Conservation Division of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, and as Chairman of the New Mexico Oil Conservation Commission. New Mexico’s state senate recognized Lori’s work with a certificate of appreciation in 2004 for her contributions to the state. Prior to her service in New Mexico, Lori worked in Texas in a variety of positions, including Deputy Director and Assistant Director for Environmental Services in the Oil and Gas Division of the Texas Railroad Commission. She was also a staff attorney for the Texas Department of Water Resources.
In Texas, New Mexico, and now here in Oklahoma, as well as with several national groups, Lori has worked collaboratively with representatives of governmental agencies, industry associations, and environmental organizations to address a variety of complex energy, water, and environmental issues. She has a proven ability to find consensus solutions to problems that normally pit one group against another.
Lori has served as president of the Ground Water Protection Council, a national association of state agencies charged with the protection of ground water. She is a founding member of the State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER), a non-profit organization of state, industry, and public interest stakeholders that reviews and advises state regulatory agencies on their oil and gas environmental programs. She has participated since 1991 in the activities of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), where she is an Associate Representative of Governor Brad Henry and a member of the Environment and Safety Committee, among others.
She holds a B.A. in anthropology from Wellesley College, a B.S. in geology from the University of Texas, and a law degree from Harvard University. BACK TO LIST