Mel Ustad, Ph.D.


Dr. Melvin Ustad, Director of South Dakota EPSCoR, coordinating South Dakota EPSCoR activities and serving as the Project Director of the National Science Foundation EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Track 1 project.  The five year $24 million project involves the six regental institutions, three tribal colleges, two private colleges.  Dr. Ustad served as the Director of Commercialization, in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development for Governor Rounds and Daugaard.   Dr. Ustad has extensive experience leading collaborative interdisciplinary public / private research and economic development projects. Dr. Ustad previously served as Acting and Interim Vice President for Research at the University of South Dakota, Director of the South Dakota SBIR Center, and worked for Senator Larry Pressler in Washington, DC. He has also served or is currently serving on the Board of Directors of numerous national and state technology entrepreneurship organizations. Dr. Ustad has been an active researcher throughout his career, serving as principal investigator on numerous research and outreach projects supported by various federal agencies and private foundations.

Mark Stowers

Vice President SD Biotech- The Global Bluefish Co., LLC

Dr. Mark Stowers is the Biotech Executive of The Global Bluefish Company, LLC, a global management and financial advisory company which focuses on de-risking agriculture, food, bioproducts, and bioenergy and chemical businesses globally.  It provides diverse business and technical guidance encompassing research management, product development, business development, marketing, mergers and acquisitions, licensing, corporate finance and general management. 

Mark was most recently Chief Operations Officer and President of North America at Inari Agriculture, an emerging gene editing and computational seed design company targeting improved yield and resiliency of corn, soybean and wheat. While at Inari, he was responsible for the early-stage set-up of the company, its product development, the development and launch of the company’s “go to market” strategy, information technology, and its seed supply chain.

Previously he held senior executive positions in the research and business development areas at Limagrain, POET and Monsanto (now Bayer Crop Science). He has also worked to commercialize new biotechnologies and helped new business start-ups as President and CEO of MBI International and the Bio-Business Incubator of Michigan.  He was the co-founder of Draths Corporation and the UCDavis-HM.Clause Life Sciences Innovation Center.  Over the last twenty-five years he led/supported equity and debt financings of over $2 billion including a $200+ million IPO.

Dr, Stowers holds a Ph.D. in microbiology from North Carolina State University (1982) and completed post-doctoral studies at the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University (1983).  He is a NC State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Distinguished Alumnus (2003). He (as the principal from HM.Clause) is the recipient of the UC Davis Chancellor’s award Innovative Community Partner award (2016). He has served on numerous company, not-for-profit, and university boards and advisory committees.

Kara McCormick, PhD


Dr. Kara McCormick of Sanford Research oversees both the internal and external communications for the non-profit research arm of Sanford Health, which has a team of more than 250 researchers on staff. She earned her undergraduate degree in physical science with a Business and Chemistry Specialization from Dakota State University. Kara then pursued her Ph.D. in Basic Biomedical Sciences with a specialization in Infectious Diseases at the University of South Dakota. After graduate school, she joined Newport Labs in Worthington, MN, as a Research Scientist managing complete life-cycle vaccine development projects, from research design to product safety trials and product licensing. While at Newport Labs, a subsidiary of Sanofi and then Boehringer Ingelheim, Kara handled change management, gaining industry insight and experience working on collaborative projects throughout the region and company transitions. Most recently, she served the state of South Dakota as an Epidemiologist for the Department of Health, holding roles as a Safety Officer, Data Visualization Lead, and Education Partner during the Emergency Response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With experience in academia, industry, and government, she enjoys bringing together innovative ideas that cross multiple disciplines to support community connections and progressive developments.

Christoph Bausch, Ph.D.


Christoph Bausch, Ph.D., MBA, is our Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer as of May 2022, overseeing all Research & Manufacturing operations of the company. Prior to his role as COO, he served as Chief Science Officer since joining SAB in April 2017, providing leadership in all areas of Research & Development, and functioning as drug development lead for a Stage 3 clinically advanced drug product. Dr. Bausch is an experienced research scientist, biotech entrepreneur, and business development executive who has led the successful discovery, development, biomanufacturing, and commercialization of platform technologies in the life sciences. Previously, Dr. Bausch has served as founder and director of a molecular diagnostic company and has provided life science consulting for Keion Group, LLC. Dr. Bausch held several science-based business development positions prior to joining SAB, most recently for multi-billion-dollar global industrial biomanufacturing leader POET, LLC, where he structured strategic partnerships, prospected and vetted new technologies, and streamlined research and development activities. He also worked in both research and commercialization roles for Fortune 500 life science and high technology company Sigma-Aldrich, now MilliporeSigma.  Dr. Bausch currently serves on the Board of Directors for the state affiliate of BIO, South Dakota Biotech, since 2017.  He received his Ph.D. in Microbiology at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, completed Post-Doctoral Training at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, Missouri, and earned an MBA from St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, in addition to a BA in Biology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


Malissa Eng


Malissa Eng is a patent attorney who uses her technical background to assist clients in identifying and protecting their intellectual property. Malissa prepares and prosecutes patent applications; assesses the patentability of inventions and the patent rights of competitors; and drafts intellectual property agreements. Malissa’s patent experience includes pharmaceuticals, medical devices, medical diagnostics, treatment methods, and biotechnology. Malissa also serves as an adjunct professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, where she coaches law students in the National Patent Application Drafting Competition.

Daniel Engebretson, Ph.D.


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.

Dr. Engebretson serves as VP for Research and Sponsored Programs at USD

Jeff Heikes, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President of Research, POET

Jeff Heikes joined POET in June 2002 and has served the organization in multiple roles since then. Prior to leading POET’s research business unit, Heikes had leadership roles in plant operations, engineering and project management. He was also a key leader in the design, construction and operations of POET’s cellulosic bioethanol plant in Emmetsburg, Iowa.

In his current role as Senior Vice President of POET Research, Heikes leads biotechnology, science and engineering research for POET in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He also oversees the operations of the POET Research Center in Scotland, South Dakota, and the POET Bioproducts Center being built in Brookings, South Dakota, on the South Dakota State University campus.

Prior to joining POET, Heikes held various roles in corn wet milling in Nebraska. Heikes received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from South Dakota School of Mines. He is also a registered Professional Engineer in South Dakota.

Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson is the Vice President of Hospital Pharmacy and Laboratory Services at Avera Health, in Sioux Falls, S.D. where he has responsibility for hospital-based pharmacy services across the health system. Tom also oversees laboratory operations at Avera McKennan Hospital. Over the years, he has consistently championed advancing optimal patient outcomes through the progressive use of patient centered healthcare teams.
Tom earned his Pharm.D. from North Dakota State University (NDSU) and completed an ASHP-accredited pharmacy residency at St. Alexius Medical Center/NDSU in Bismarck, N.D. Tom received his Masters of Business Administration from the University of Sioux Falls. He has served in multiple roles over his professional career including clinical practice, academia, research, and leadership.
Tom has been involved in professional organizations his entire career.  Over the years he has been an active member in several organizations including SCCM, ACCP, ACHE, and ASHP. Tom’s main professional involvement has been with ASHP where he has served in multiple roles including Presidential Officer (2019-22); Treasurer (2016–2019); Board of Directors (2011–2014); numerous committees and councils; and as a state delegate for many years. He is also a Past-President of the South Dakota Society of Health-System Pharmacists (SDSHP) and was recognized as the 2005 SDSHP Pharmacist of the Year. Tom is a Fellow of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, a Fellow of the American College of Critical Care Medicine, and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Sue Lancaster

Vice President Innovation Partners

Sue Lancaster is vice president of corporate development and strategy for South Dakota Innovation Partners.
In the past eight years, she has helped guide two startups to significant milestones. Prairie AquaTech, which uses a natural biological process to convert soybean meal to a high-quality feed ingredient, and Medgene Labs, an immunological services provider with a platform vaccine production system that allows for rapid updates of vaccines to prevent disease.  For Lancaster, who grew up in Aberdeen, the past 14 years since graduating from Roncalli High School have brought big opportunities to blend science and business skills as she has helped South Dakota startups build global relationships.

Lancaster’s career at South Dakota Innovation Partners has taken her from a project manager to director of life science operations, director of business development, chief technology officer and her current vice president role, which she has held since late 2014.


Ashley Podhradsky

Dakota State University

Dr. Ashley Podhradsky is the Vice President of Research and Economic Development and Professor of Digital Forensics at Dakota State University. Ashley is also a board member of the First Bank and Trust Board of Directors. Ashley has been an invited speaker and keynote at several events and universities including The Pennsylvania State University, Women in CyberSecurity, InfraGard, OSMOSIS Conference among others. Her research teams have received over 15.4M in competitive grants and contracts. In addition to her academic and professional work, she has a strong passion for increasing gender diversity in cybersecurity. She is the co-founder of CybHER™, an initiative to increase gender diversity in cybersecurity. Ashley was the recipient of the EmBe 2017 “Young Woman of Achievement”, The 2017 Merrill Hunter Award for Excellence in Research, 2017 and 2018 New America Cybersecurity Fellow, and is a 2019 American Association for the Advancement of Science IF/THEN Ambassador. 

Daniel Scholl, Ph.D.

South Dakota State University

Daniel Scholl is vice president for research and economic development at South Dakota State University. Scholl joined SDSU in 2011 as as associate dean for research of the College of Agriculture and Biological Sciences and director of the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station. Previously at the University of Montreal, he led a team that founded an international research consortium with the Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and several industry partners.

Eddie Sullivan, Ph.D.

ADVISOR - SAB Biotherapeutics

As President, CEO, and Co-Founder, Dr. Sullivan is actively involved in charting the vision of the organization and working directly with the scientific and technical staff to develop new, innovative products using the DiversitAb™ Platform. He has worked to form strategic partnerships around the world to promote the development of life-saving therapeutics.

As a seasoned biotechnology executive, Dr. Sullivan has more than 15 years of leadership experience, including being President of a subsidiary of Kyowa Hakko Kirin, a Japanese pharmaceutical company. During that time, he led initiatives to develop infectious disease, cancer, and autoimmune therapeutics. Raising over $190M in capital to develop biopharmaceutical platform technologies, he has also led several mergers and acquisitions. Dr. Sullivan was previously Vice President of Business Development and Government Relations of Sanford Applied Biosciences, a subsidiary of Sanford Health. He was also the head of Genemark, a company developing molecular diagnostic tools to the animal health industry as well as a co-founder of BioDak, a biotechnology development company.

Dr. Sullivan has been a thought leader in this field and worked with various committees and discussion groups that have focused on animal biotechnology and has actively participated in discussions for establishing a regulatory framework for this technology. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in Washington, D.C. He is also the Founder and Past President of the state affiliate of BIO, South Dakota Biotech.

He was governor-appointed to South Dakota’s Research Commercialization Council and was Chairman of the state’s National Science Foundation-EPSCoR committee for 12 years.

Dr. Sullivan holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona and graduate degrees from Brigham Young University, Kennedy-Western University, and Utah State University in both reproduction and business.