BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Stephen R. Statz, R.Ph., MBA
President 
AVERA HEALTH

Stephen R. Statz, R.Ph., MBA, is Sr. Vice President of Business Development at Avera Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He has responsibility and oversight of Business Development, Avera Pharmacy, Avera Supply Chain, Avera PACE, Avera Couriers and the Northern Plains Premier Collaborative (NPPC) a partnership with the Regional Health System in Rapid City.   Prior to joining Avera Health, Steve was the Sr. Vice President of Hospital Operations at Avera McKennan where his responsibilities included all facets of Avera McKennan hospital operations.

Previously, Statz was President of Statz Companies, Inc. a family business with five retail pharmacies and six home medical equipment stores as well as president of Tel-Drug, Inc., a mail-order pharmacy business, which he sold to Cigna Companies in October of 1993. Statz holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from Creighton University and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Sioux Falls and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Steve is active in a number of professional organizations and currently serves on the following boards and committees:  Sioux Falls Development Foundation Board, South Dakota Technology Business Center Board (Chair), First Bank and Trust Board, South Dakota Biotech Association Board (Chair), South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organization Council on Long Term Care, Catholic Foundation of Eastern South Dakota, First Tee of South Dakota Board Liaison and is also active with the Avera / SDSU Research Collaborative. 

Past board appointments include serving as president and a board member of the South Dakota Board of Pharmacy, Past-President of the SDSU College of Pharmacy Advisory Board, Southeast Technical Institute Foundation Board Member, Founding member and former President of the South Dakota Family Business Council, Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation Development Committee, Board Member of Downtown Rotary Club, and a Board Member of the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce.

Steve and his wife Julie reside in Sioux Falls with their two children, Michael and Mary Kate.  

Kevin Kephart, Ph.D.
Vice President
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE UNIVERSITY

Kevin Kephart began his career at South Dakota State University as Assistant Professor of Plant Science in 1986. From 1986 to 1998 he conducted research on forage and biofuels crops and agronomic applications using near infrared reflectance spectroscopy. He taught an undergraduate course on forage management and graduate courseson crop physiology.

Kephart served as Director of the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences from 1998 to 2005. He was responsible for the portfolio of agricultural research conducted by the University. He fostered new collaborations with industry, served as the primary contact to crop commodity groups and other agricultural organizations, and served on several advisory and policy boards. During his term, Kephart led national efforts to establish the Sun Grant Initiative. Today, the national Sun Grant Program is authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.

Kephart has served as Vice President for Research since 2005. He also served as Dean of the Graduate School from 2005 to 2010. He supports and promotes research administration, compliance with state and federal regulations, federal government relations, technology transfer, and economic development. Kephart continues to advocate for research and education programs regarding ag-based renewable energy and he serves as the co-chair of the DOE/USDA Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee.

Steve Lewis
Treasurer
POET

Steve Lewis, Vice President of Technology and Innovation, has been with POET since August 1998. Lewis's primary focus while at POET has been on continued production advances in dry grind ethanol plants. Lewis has 33 years of experience in industrial biotechnology.

Prior to joining POET, Lewis served as an Applications Specialist at Genencor International in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Lewis received a B.S. in Microbiology from Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and a Master of Business Administration from Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio. He also studied Food Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois.

Lewis currently resides in Sioux Falls, S.D., with his wife and 3 children. 

Sue Lancaster
Secretary 
SOUTH DAKOTA INNOVATION PARTNERS

Paul Batcheller
PRAIRIE GOLD VENTURE PARTNERS

Paul Batcheller is a partner at PrairieGold Venture Partners and leads the firm’s Greentech investment initiative. He oversees all aspects of the firm’s investment activities, from sourcing, structuring and negotiating investments to serving as a board member for portfolio companies. He serves on the boards of ZeaChem, tenKsolar and Agrivida and oversees the firm’s investment in General Compression. Prior to joining PrairieGold, Paul served as an advisor to Sen. Tom Daschle, working on economic policy, science and technology issues. He leverages that experience to provide strategic and policy advice to PrairieGold portfolio companies.

Daniel Engebretson, Ph.D.
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH DAKOTA

Dan Engebretson earned his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry in 1997 from Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI under the direction of Drs. Daniel Nocera and George Leroi.  After graduate school he took the position of Senior Scientist at Dakota Technologies, Inc. in Fargo, ND.  He then accepted the position of Senior Research Specialist at the Avera Research Institute in Sioux Falls, SD.  After Avera he joined The University of South Dakota as the Director of the Center for Research and Development of Light-Activated Materials, a position he still holds in addition to his duties as the Chair of Biomedical Engineering and the Director of the Graduate Education and Applied Research Center.   

Dr. Engebretson’s major research interests are the development Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET)-based sensors for in vitro diagnostics and targeted drug delivery.  His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes
of Health, Department of Defense, and the Department of Transportation.

Lucas M. Huntimer, Ph.D.
ELANCO ANIMAL HEALTH

Lucas Huntimer serves as a Principal Scientist at Novartis Animal Health, US Inc. He has 5 years of combined experience in the animal health biologics industry. Lucas holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from South Dakota State University in 2006 as well as a Doctorate of Philosophy in Immunobiology from Iowa State University in 2013. The focus of Lucas’s research at Iowa State was to explore the mechanisms of how the use of novel surface eroding polyanhydride micro and nanovaccines can enhance cellular and humoral immune responses. His work also focused on the design of new vaccines with the novel micro and nanovaccines.  Currently, Lucas works in researching, designing, and developing new vaccines and biologics for bovine, porcine, and companion animal species as well as continuing to develop existing farm animal vaccines and biologics. 

Lucas is an active member of many professional scientific organizations.  He is also chair of the Lab Quality Systems team as well as participating in the Continuing Education Committee and Team Health within Novartis Animal Health.

Mark Larson, Ph.D.
AUGUSTANA COLLEGE

Dr. Larson teaches Cell Biology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, and Introductory Biology for biology majors. He also teaches a Capstone class on the biology and visualization of race with Dr. Lindsay Twa, assistant professor of art. Dr. Larson is the co-director of the biochemistry major, along with Dr. Jared Mays, assistant professor of biochemistry. In addition, Dr. Larson coordinates Augustana’s Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN) grant.

Dr. Larson’s work focuses on the function and biogenesis of human platelets. Platelets are the key cellular component in blood clotting and are a major focus of therapies designed to prevent adverse cardiovascular events. He collaborates with Dr. Bill Harris of Omegaquant, Inc. and Dr. Greg Shearer of Sanford Research in Sioux Falls to study the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on platelet function. 

Recent work with alumni Carl Hjelmen ‘13, Nicole Ensz ‘13, and Leah McComas ‘12 examined how omega-3 fatty acids alter platelet catalysis of thrombin generation. He also collaborates and makes frequent visits to Dr. Owen McCarty’s lab at Oregon Health and Science University to explore links between platelet function and overall blood coagulation. 

Rollie Nevins
RTI, LLC - RESEARCH - TECHNOLOGY - INNOVATION

Rollie Nevins is Chief Operating Officer and Business Development Manager for RTI, LLC. of Brookings, SD. RTI is a leading contract research organization serving the animal health and nutrition industry. Specializing in biologicals for food animals, RTI’s clients include several Fortune 500 companies as well as multi-nationals, mid-size, and start-up bio-tech firms.

Nevins received his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Minnesota. His agri-business career began with 10 years as a District Manager for Ralston Purina Co. Over the next 15 years his entrepreneurial efforts resulted in starting and serving as President of three livestock and agronomy supply companies. Upon selling these businesses he started and served as CEO of Supreme Pork, Inc. and RM Layers, LLC.

Nevins has served on boards of several professional and community organizations. He has dedicated a significant amount of volunteer effort to rural economic development including being one of the founders and Chairman of Deuel Area Development, Inc. There he helped lead the establishment of a state-recognized Entrepreneurial Resource Program.

David Pearce, PH.D.
SANFORD RESEARCH

Jan Puszynski
SOUTH DAKOTA SCHOOL OF MINES & TECHNOLOGY

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Joni Johnson, executive director

South Dakota Biotech 
2329 N. Career Avenue, Ste. 115
Sioux Falls, SD 57107
605.274.3714 

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