- ABOUT US
President and Chief Executive Officer
Richard Hamilton has been the chief executive and a board member of Ceres since 2002. The prior four years he served as the company's Chief Financial Officer. In addition to his leadership role at Ceres, he sits on the Keck Graduate Institute Advisory Council and serves as a board member of First Green Partners. He was a founding member of the Council for Sustainable Biomass Production. Mr. Hamilton has previously served on the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Biomass R&D Technical Advisory Committee and has been active in the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), where he has served as Vice Chairman of the organization, chaired its Food and Agriculture Governing Board and served in other leadership roles. Mr. Hamilton frequently speaks before policymakers, business leaders and scientific organizations regarding biotechnology, biofuels and energy crops. He has addressed the House Agriculture Committee, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the National Academy of Sciences, among others. Earlier in his career, Mr. Hamilton was a principal at Oxford Bioscience Partners, one of the leading investors in the genomics field and a founder of Ceres. From 1990 to 1991 he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School. Mr. Hamilton holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Vanderbilt University.
Paul M. Kuc
Chief Financial Officer
Paul Kuc joined Ceres in 2008 as Chief Financial Officer, following a 12-year career with Monsanto, where he held various regional and global finance positions, including posts in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States. At Monsanto, among other responsibilities, Mr. Kuc developed and implemented international costing and financial systems for the seed and agricultural biotechnology company. He began his career at pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. Mr. Kuc holds a Master’s of Science degree in Economics from the University of Lodz, Poland and an MBA from the Ivey Business School, University of Western Ontario, Canada.
Wilfriede van Assche
Senior Vice President & General Counsel; Secretary
Wilfriede van Assche joined Ceres in 2000. She has more than 20 years of legal experience, primarily in the plant biotechnology industry. Until 2000, Ms. van Assche was the General Counsel of the plant biotechnology and seed divisions of Aventis, a leading life sciences company that is now part of Bayer AG. Previously, she was the General Counsel at Plant Genetic Systems N.V. Ms. van Assche holds law degrees from the University of Leuven and the College of Europe. She is a member of the State Bar of California.
Vice President of Plant Breeding and Genomics
Jeff Gwyn joined Ceres in 2008. He oversees crop improvement in switchgrass, sorghum and other energy crops. He also manages the company’s research center near College Station, Texas. Prior to joining Ceres, he was head of trait development in soybean at Syngenta Seeds, Inc. Earlier in his career, Dr. Gwyn established and managed cotton breeding and trait programs stations in the U.S. and Brazil for Bayer Cotton Seed International. He was also a project director and program manager in corn trait breeding for DeKalb Genetics. He began his career as a cotton breeder with Chembred, Inc. (American Cyanamid). Dr. Gwyn has been a co-inventor on several U.S. patents related to trait development and methods of plant breeding in corn and cotton. He holds a Ph.D. in Genetics from Texas A&M University as well as an Master’s Degree in Genetics and Plant Breeding from Iowa State University. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Arkansas.
Vice President of Trait Development
Roger Pennell joined Ceres in 1998 and held various research management positions until 2009 when he assumed his current role as Vice President of Trait Development. Dr. Pennell is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles and a frequent reviewer for the scientific press. Dr. Pennell holds a Ph.D. from University College London. He performed post-doctoral research at the John Innes Institute and Wageningen Agricultural University, and in 1990 was the recipient of a prestigious Royal Society University Research Fellowship, which he used at University College London and, from 1995, at the Salk Institute. During this time, Dr. Pennell studied cellular and molecular aspects of plant growth, development and disease resistance, and has published more than 40 scientific papers on these subjects.
Vice President of Operations
Michael Stephenson joined Ceres in 2008. Prior to joining Ceres, Mr. Stephenson was a general manager for one of the brands of AgReliant Genetics, the fifth largest corn seed company in the United States, from 2000 to 2008. In addition to his commercial experience, Mr. Stephenson has chaired the American Seed Trade Association’s (ASTA) corn and sorghum division, and served as President of the Soybean Research Foundation and Regional VP of ASTA. Mr. Stephenson holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Kansas.
Senior Director of Technology Planning, Protection and Acquisition
Prior to joining Ceres in April of 2003, Steve Bobzin built natural products discovery programs for Galileo Pharmaceuticals and Monsanto's Consumer Health and Nutrition sector. There, Dr. Bobzin helped pioneer the application of hybrid analytical technologies, such as LC-MS and LC-NMR, to the identification of natural products from plants and other natural sources. Prior to these endeavors, he spent six years as part of the high-throughput screening team in the pharmaceutical discovery programs of G.D. Searle and Monsanto. Dr. Bobzin holds a Ph.D. in Natural Products Chemistry from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy.
Director of Investor Relations and Communications
Gary Koppenjan joined Ceres in 2006. In his role, he directs investor relations and corporate communications, including media relations and product marketing. Prior to joining Ceres, he spent more than 11 years with Seminis, Inc., an international crop biotechnology company, as corporate communications lead and public relations manager. He has received numerous advertising and public relations awards for product introduction campaigns, media outreach and video production. In addition to his responsibilities at Ceres, he currently serves on the Biotechnology Industry Organization' s communications committee and the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Technical Advisory Committee - Calif. Transportation Fuel Crops project. He is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles.
Director of Information Technology and Genomics
Tim Swaller has directed the Ceres’ computational biology, marker discover and genomics efforts since 2009, following 10 years of various management responsibilities at the company. During his tenure, he developed and optimized high through-put laboratory systems for full-length cDNA sequencing and genotyping. He also developed conceptual designs for storing and accessing information for laboratory information management systems (LIMS) and data analysis work-streams. Prior to joining Ceres, he was a researcher at the Washington University Genome Sequencing Center in St. Louis, MO working on human and mouse genome sequencing. Swaller holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Director of Business Development
Spencer Swayze leads the company’s strategic engagements in biofuels and bio-chemicals, including the execution of commercial collaborations in the emerging sweet sorghum-to-biofuels market in Brazil. He specializes in economic modeling of bioenergy feedstock production and frequently speaks at industry conferences. Mr. Swayze also serves on advisory boards at Iowa State University and Louisiana State University. Prior to joining Ceres in 2006, he was an associate with PTV Sciences in Austin, Texas where he evaluated investments in life and material science companies. He holds an MBA from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin.