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, directs both the internal and external communications for Sanford Research, a non-profit research organization that is part of Sanford Health, which has a team of more than 250 researchers. Dr. McCormick, earned 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, where she served as a Lead Research Scientist managing full life cycle vaccine development projects, from research design through clinical trials and product licensing. While at Newport Labs, the nation’s leading custom vaccine company, Dr. McCormick was able to work under the direction of Sanofi, Merial and then Boehringer Ingelheim, gaining industry insight and experience working on collaborative vaccine projects throughout the region. Most recently Dr. McCormick assisted the state of South Dakota as a part of the Department of Health Epidemiology Team, where she served as Education Lead for the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With experience in both industry and government as well as animal and human health, she enjoys bringing together innovative ideas that cross multiple disciplines in support of community outreach and development.


Christoph Bausch, Ph.D.


Dr. Christoph L. Bausch is the chief science officer of SAB Biotherapeutics, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical development company commercializing the first-of-its-kind immunotherapy platform to produce full human polyclonal (IgG) antibodies from bovine –The DiversitAb™ Platform. Dr. Bausch is responsible for antibody and antigen production, quality control laboratories, research collaborations, grant funding and clinical studies. Prior to SAB, Dr. Bausch worked in business development for global biorefining leader, Poet, LLC, where he structured strategic partnerships, prospected and vetted new technologies, and streamlined R&D. He also held research and commercialization roles for Fortune 500 life science company Sigma-Aldrich.

Ralph Davis, Ph.D.


Davis oversees the Office of Research Affairs, the arm of the university responsible for acquiring major grants, contracts, and research awards; fostering economic development and building community relationships; overseeing the work at 17 labs and research centers associated with the university; and supporting the culture of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship found at Mines.  Davis comes to SD Mines from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where he most recently served as the associate vice provost for research and innovation. His previous positions at the university include the geosciences department chair, director of the Arkansas Water Resources Center, and professor of geosciences. He completed his Ph.D. in hydrogeology in 1992 from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

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

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.


Steve Lewis


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.

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. 

Penny Sattgast

PCS Biotech Services

Prior to founding PCS Biotech Services in 2017, Penny worked for Elanco and served as a clinical trial study director. She brings 15 years of clinical, laboratory, quality and regulatory experience to her business, and has an MS in biology from South Dakota State University.

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.

Stephen R. Statz, R.Ph., MBA


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.

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 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 Founder and Past President of the state affiliate of BIO, South Dakota Biotech.

He was appointed by the Governor of South Dakota to the state’s Research Commercialization Council and serves as Chairman of the South Dakota National Science Foundation EPSCoR.

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.