Confirmed Speakers in 2020

Remi Cohen
Remi Cohen is the Chief Operating Officer of Lede Family Wines, encompassing Cliff Lede Vineyards in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley and FEL Wines in the Anderson Valley. Remi directs the grape growing and winemaking process from vineyard to bottle and is responsible for top quality, small-lot winemaking expressive of appellation and vineyard site. In addition, she oversees the sale of all wines through the direct to consumer hospitality experience and the wine club programs, and throughout the domestic and international markets.

Prior to joining Lede Family Wines, Remi founded her own viticultural and winemaking consulting company called Vines to Wine, where she worked with Cliff Lede Vineyards since 2010. Before establishing Vines to Wine, Remi was the vice president of operations at Merryvale Vineyards, where she oversaw all of the farming, grower relations, and direct to consumer sales programs. Previously, she worked at Bouchaine Vineyards and Saintsbury Winery in their viticulture and vineyard operations departments.

Raised in New Jersey, Remi moved to California to attend U.C. Berkeley where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in molecular and cellular biology. She then enrolled in the Viticulture and Enology program at U.C. Davis, where she received her master’s degree. Remi later completed her M.B.A. at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. 

Xing Wang Deng
(bio pending)

Mat Fisher
Prof Matthew Fisher works on emerging pathogenic fungi and is the head of the ‘Fungal Epidemiology’ theme in the UK MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis within the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London. His research uses an evolutionary framework to investigate the biological and environmental factors that are driving emerging fungal diseases across human, wildlife and plant species. Wildlife and their environments play a key role in the emergence of human emerging infectious disease (EID) by providing a 'zoonotic pool' from which previously unknown pathogens emerge. Conversely, human action impacts on patterns of fungal disease via the perturbation of natural systems, the introduction, and the spread of pathogenic fungi into naïve environments, and by rapid natural selection for unwanted phenotypes such as resistance to antimicrobial drugs. These interactions are leading to an upswing of new fungal infections in new places, leading to new (and exacerbating old) human diseases. Matthew Fisher’s research group is focused on research using genomic, epidemiological, ecological and experimental models to uncover the factors driving these EIDs, and to attempt to develop new methods of diagnosis and control.

Shannon Greene
(bio pending)

Wilhelm Gruissem, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
Wilhelm Gruissem is Professor of Plant Biotechnology at the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) since 2000 and Chair Professor and Yu-shan Scholar at National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan since 2017. Before moving to Zurich, he was Professor of Plant Biology at the University of California at Berkeley from 1983-2000. He was Chair of the Department at UC Berkeley from 1993-1998 and Director of a collaborative research program with Novartis from 1998-2000. In 2008 he started the company Nebion. From 2006 to 2010 he was President of the European Plant Science Organization (EPSO) and in in 2012 he was elected Chair and Acting President of the Global Plant Council that he served until 2015. In addition to his research on systems biology, he directs a biotechnology program on trait improvement in cassava, rice and wheat. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the American Society of PlantBiologists, Editor of Plant  Biology until 2019, and Co-Editor of the acclaimed book ‘Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Plants’. He has received several prestigious awards, including prizes for his trait improvement work in cassava.

Stefan Kirchanski
Stefan J. Kirchanski is a patent lawyer at Zuber Lawler & Del Duca LLP. He obtained his BA (with Highest Honors, 1969) and PhD (1974) degrees in Botany at UC Berkeley, did postdoctoral work at Harvard following which he was appointed as Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Austin. Stefan received a JD degree from Loyola Law School in 1992 and was a partner at Venable LLP before joining Zuber, Lawler & Del Duca. Stefan focuses on patent prosecution and post-grant proceedings as well as patent litigation support with particular emphasis on issues relating to life sciences, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, electronics, robotics, communications, software, e-commerce and plants.

Steve Lee
(bio pending)

Richard (Rich) Lyons
Rich Lyons serves as the chief innovation and entrepreneurship officer for UC Berkeley. Prior to that role he served as dean of Berkeley's Haas School of Business (2008 to 2018) and currently holds the William and Janet Cronk Chair in Innovative Leadership. From 2006 to 2008 he oversaw Goldman Sachs University as chief learning officer. He received his BS with highest honors from UC Berkeley (business) and PhD from MIT (economics). Before (re)joining Berkeley, Rich was for six years on the business faculty at Columbia University. His research and teaching expertise is in international economics and finance and his top applied interest is the “how and why” of setting strong institutional cultures.

Pamela Ronald, Distinguished Professor, Dept of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center, UC Davis
Director, Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy, UC Davis
Key Scientist, Joint Bioenergy Institute
Faculty Affiliate, Center on Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University

Ronald is a Professor in the Dept of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center, UC Davis. She completed her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley (1990), earned a B.S. from the Reed College (1982), an M.S. from Stanford University and an M.S. from the University of Uppsala, Sweden. Ronald uses genetic techniques to understand the plant response to infection and tolerance to environmental stress. With her collaborators, she received the 2008 USDA National Research Initiative Discovery Award and the 2012 Tech Award for the innovative use of technology to benefit humanity. Ronald’s book, "Tomorrow’s Table" was selected as an influential book with the power to inspire college readers to change the world. Her 2015 TED talk has been viewed by more than 1.8 million people. In 2019, she received the ASPB Leadership Award, an honorary doctorate from the Swedish Agricultural University and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.


Chris Somerville
(bio pending)

Brian Staskawicz
Brian Staskawicz is the Maxine J. Elliot Professor of Plant & Microbial Biology at The University of California, Berkeley, and Scientific Director, Sustainable Agriculture, at the Innovative Genomics Institute. The Staskawicz lab studies the molecular basis of plant-pathogen interactions and applies their discoveries to engineer resistance in crop species.

Brian is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of The American Phytopathological Society and the American Society for Microbiology.

Ian Van Trump
Ian Van Trump completed his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley in 2008 and is presently a Senior Managing Scientist at Exponent, Inc.. He provides scientific and regulatory support services for a variety of consumer and professional-use products regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including disinfectants and medical devices incorporating antimicrobial technologies. Ian has also assisted with the research, development, testing, and regulatory approval of several commercial (bio)pesticide products derived from bacteria, viruses, or biochemicals and intended to treat agricultural plant diseases. Much of his work involves building scientific consensus between regulators and the regulated community to help ensure that safe, effective, and innovative products can be efficiently brought to market.

Tom White
Dr. Thomas J. White received his B.A. in Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from UC Berkeley- including graduate studies in the Pharmacology Department at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His postdoctoral studies were at UCSF Medical Center and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Over 3 decades from 1978-2010, he was the Senior VP of Research at Cetus Corporation, Senior VP of R&D at Roche Molecular Systems, and Chief Scientific Officer at Celera Corporation. He worked on human therapeutic proteins and multiple applications of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in basic research, molecular evolution, forensics and molecular diagnostic tests for infectious diseases, genetic disorders and cancer. In addition, he directed CDC post-docs working on HIV evolution and transmission and collaborated with Professor John Taylor on the molecular phylogenetics and population biology of fungal pathogens. Dr. White was the Regents Lecturer at UC Berkeley in 2012-13, and has served as a member of the advisory boards of the Human Rights Center, the College of Natural Resources, and as Trustee of the University of California Press Foundation.

Kelly Wrighton
(bio pending)