Committee & Advisors

External Committee Members

The external committee members are Cornell Alumni recognized in their fields of expertise. Four of them are regular members of the Ignite Innovation Program.

President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors

Gregory J. Galvin MS ’82 PhD ’84 MBA ’93

Committee member for:
- Innovation Acceleration
- Startup Projects

Dr. Galvin has been at the forefront of multidisciplinary technology commercialization since 1993, when he launched Kionix Inc. to commercialize a novel micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) technology platform. Dr. Galvin sold the Kionix telecommunications platform to Calient Networks Inc. in 2000 and purchased the rights to the name and access to certain markets in 2001. Dr. Galvin continued his successful commercialization of Kionix with applications in MEMS technology for semiconductor applications including a highly successful accelerometer product for smartphones. Dr. Galvin spun out Rheonix Inc. from Kionix in 2008 to capitalize on non-MEMS-based microfluidic opportunities in the molecular diagnostics industry and sold the second incarnation of Kionix Inc. to Rohm Co. Ltd.

Dr. Galvin is a member of several scientific societies, has published more than 20 technical papers and holds 58 patents. He is a member of the Advisory Councils of the Cornell Engineering College, Entrepreneurship at Cornell and the Cornell Materials Science Department and has served as a member of the Cornell Board of Trustees. He also serves as a director of the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research and Ithaca Area Economic Development. He was named Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year 2014.

He holds a B.S. from the California Institute of Technology in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. in materials science and MBA from Cornell University.

Founder - Accelerate Medicine (Axlmed). Former Global VP of Growth & BD at Siemens Healthineers

Anupendra Sharma MBA ’98

Committee member for:
- Innovation Acceleration
- Startup Projects

Anupendra Sharma was the Global VP of Growth & Business Development at Siemens Healthineers within Enterprise Services & Solutions where he partners with innovative companies to create new business lines for Siemens.
For eleven years, he was Senior Investment Partner at Siemens Venture Capital / Next47.
Prior to SVC, Anupendra spent eight years in M&A at JPMorgan, Salomon Smith Barney and Siemens. Anupendra also worked in strategy consulting for McKinsey, and Product Development Finance for Ford, where he was a member of the core team that set-up Ford in China and India.
Anupendra Sharma is a passionate Cornellian. He led the creation of the Cornellians in Venture Capital Database. When he was at Cornell, he was recognized with the Johnson 10×2000 award for his efforts to make the Johnson School a top 10 school (it was ranked 8th when he graduated). He also judged the Entrepreneurship competition for two years, and mentored one of the companies to Angel and Series A rounds.
Anupendra holds an MBA from Cornell, Masters in Accounting & Finance from Manchester Business School, and Masters in Economics and Bachelors of Instrumentation Engineering from BITS Pilani.
Principal Alexandria Venture Investments

Blake Stevens ’05

Committee member for:
- Innovation Acceleration
- Startup Projects

Blake Stevens, PhD, is a Principal at Alexandria Venture Investments and the Head of Alexandria Launchlabs – AgTech, the premier startup platform for agtech companies. Dr. Stevens specializes in assisting early-stage companies accelerate their growth and has worked as both an entrepreneur and a venture investor. Dr. Stevens leads Alexandria’s agtech investment portfolio and venture investment activity in the Research Triangle region. At LaunchLabs, Dr. Stevens works closely with members on company-building activities.

Dr. Stevens formerly served as Vice President at Harris & Harris Group, an early-stage venture capital firm. He also sat on the Board of TARA Biosystems, Inc.; ProMuc, Inc.; Interome, Inc.; and SynGlyco, Inc. Dr. Stevens was an early employee at HZO, Inc., leading its R&D, commercialization, and technical business development efforts.

He holds degrees in Materials Science and Engineering from Cornell University (BSc) and Northwestern University (PhD) and a Certificate in Management for Scientists and Engineers from the Kellogg Business School.

Partner at Amplifyher Ventures

Meghan Cross Breeden ’08

Committee member for:
- Innovation Acceleration
- Startup Projects

Meghan has 14 years of asset management and operating experience in New York venture. Prior to joining Amplifyher, Meghan built the Cornell alumni investment network Red Bear Angels, leading the firm's investments into 25+ companies including Datalogue [acq. Nike] and Grokstyle [acq. Facebook] as well as two 'Unicorns' Lyft [NASDAQ: LYFT] and Trumid. She received her venture training from Foundation Capital and StarVest Partners. Meghan was previously a communications specialist, managing public relations for Skype and Foursquare, before becoming a director at the leading post-dot-com media company, StyleCaster Media Group [acq. She Knows Media].

Meghan is a guest writer for TechCrunch and Forbes and lecturer at Columbia University, Cornell University, and Yeshiva University on Venture Capital. She is an active leader on the Young Patrons board at Lincoln Center and co-chairs the nextgen board of Facing History, an education nonprofit that furthers diversity and inclusion.

Meghan received her B.S. in Fiber Science from Cornell University and M.B.A. from Columbia Business School.

Former CEO of CBORD and Trustee Emeritus of Cornell University

John Alexander ’74, MBA '76,

Committee member for Startup Projects Program

John is the founder of The CBORD Group Inc., a systems integration firm based in Ithaca, NY. He earned an undergraduate degree in physics and an MBA in finance while at Cornell. Immediately after graduation, he was vice president in the Money Market Division of Bankers Trust Company (now Deutsche Bank.) in their Eurodollar trading operation.

As President and CEO of CBORD, Mr. Alexander led CBORD through 29 years of growth. The CBORD Group, founded in 1975, is the world’s leading provider of campus and cashless card systems, food and nutrition service management software, nationwide student discount and off-campus commerce programs, housing and judicial process management software, and integrated security solutions. CBORD prides itself on being the only provider that can offer such a broad portfolio of solutions designed to improve our clients’ daily operations and help them provide their customers with greater convenience and satisfaction. In 2004, Mr. Alexander sold a portion of his interest in CBORD to a private equity consortium consisting of Sterling Investment Partners and Oak Investment Partners, among others, and stepped down as CEO, maintaining his responsibility as Chairman of the board. In 2008, the firm was sold again to Roper Industries, Inc., a publically held firm (ROP), and Alexander stepped down from the board.

Mr. Alexander was elected to Cornell’s Board of Trustees by the alumni body to a four-year term beginning July 1, 2000, and was reelected in 2004. He has served on numerous committees, and chaired the Audit Committee for 3 years, taking the university through the Sarbanes Oxley process. He currently serves at a Trustee Emeritus and Presidential Councilor. He serves on the advisory councils of the Entrepreneurship@Cornell (E@C) Program, the Johnson School, and is the alumni advisor to the Johnson Board Fellows program and BR Consulting. He also serves on the community advisory board of the Johnson Art Museum. He was the 1987-88 Dorothy M. Proud Lecturer at Cornell’s Division of Nutritional Sciences. He currently chairs the executive committee of the Sphinx Head Society, Cornell’s first undergraduate honor society.

Locally, Mr. Alexander has been involved in numerous activities. He is probably best known for Coyote Loco, an innovative Mexican restaurant located just outside of Cornell’s campus, started in partnership with three other business-minded Mexican food lovers. Community activities include the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, FOODNET, Tompkins County’s elderly home-delivered meal program, the Sciencenter’s Advisory Board, the Boy Scouts of America, the Hangar Theatre, and the Cayuga Venture Fund. Mr. Alexander serves as an independent director of the Tompkins Financial Corporation (TMP), where he has chaired the Audit Committee, and serves on the boards of both the bank and of the holding company, as well as its Compensation Committee and its Pension Investment Committee. He served as a director for real Foods LLC, which was sold in 2012 to Rich Products, and also serves on the board of Sound Reading Systems, Inc. Mr. Alexander volunteers with the United Way of Tompkins County, and chaired its annual campaign for the 2002-2003 year. He served as National Campaign Co-Chair for the Hangar Theatre’s first-ever capital campaign with his wife Elaine, and serves on the board of the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, where he chairs the development committee and has had the responsibility of conducting its first-ever capital campaign.

Ernst and Young selected Mr. Alexander as the Upstate New York Technology Entrepreneur of the in 2002. Cornell selected Alexander as its 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year. John and Elaine Alexander were honored in 2014 as recipients of Cornell’s prestigious Frank H. T. Rhodes Exemplary Alumni Service Award for their service to Cornell.

Managing Partner at Silicon Catalyst

Richard Curtin, MS ’78

Committee member for Startup Projects Program

Richard has an entrepreneurial passion for transforming innovative technology teams into successful businesses, bringing to startups extensive, hands-on business management experience in the Asian/Pacific, European and North American markets. He has been actively involved in 11 startups, most recently as a co-founder of Nucleos, an education technology company targeting disconnected learners.
He has over 30 years of semiconductor industry experience, in the areas of marketing, sales, business development and operations management. Richard has held executive management positions with semiconductor, Silicon IP, EDA, design and testing services companies -- ranging from early-stage, pre-revenue startups seeking funding, to a general manager role with P&L responsibility for a $200 million product line at NXP Semiconductors.
Richard started his career as a chip designer in the computer industry and is a holder of two US patents. He holds an MBA from Pepperdine University, an M.S. EE from Cornell University and a B.S. Computer Engineering degree from Boston University.
Former Vice President of Technology and Development at Xerox Corporation and current Trustee of Cornell University

Yonn K. Rasmussen ’83 MS ’86 PhD ’89

Committee member for Startup Projects Program

Dr. Yonn K. Rasmussen (BS/MS/Ph.D. Engineering College Cornell University; MBA University of Rochester ‘03) is former (retired ‘20) Vice President of Technology and Development Group at Xerox Corporation. Dr. Rasmussen is passionate about innovation and commercialization of technology into products in the marketplace and holds 29 patents. Through her 30+ year career at Xerox, she has held technical and management leadership positions responsible for technology, product development and global manufacturing operations for printing consumables chemicals businesses including photoreceptors and chemical toner technologies. She has led new business initiatives, including materials development for printed electronics and 3D printing to capture new markets leveraging Internet of Things in security enhancement and smart consumables. She has had extensive experience developing and implementing joint technology and manufacturing strategy with Fuji Xerox based in Japan. Her depth of expertise and breath of experience span from leading and managing fundamental research into development of technologies that are geared toward product development to developing and delivering scale-up processes into large-scale manufacturing facilities in global locations.

Dr. Rasmussen is currently serving as an alumni elected trustee of the Cornell University, and has been active in numerous Cornell alumni and student organizations. She has been a member of the Cornell University Council, Materials Science and Engineering Advisory Board, President's Council of Cornell Women where she has served as the Board of Trustee Liaison, the chair of the PCCW's Alumnae/Faculty Engagement and Student Mentoring Committees and vice-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion committee. She is passionate about mentoring students in STEM fields. She has been an advisor for Scientista National Student Organization and Mentoring@Cornell working group. She has a long history of active engagement with Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at Cornell, advising and providing leadership development workshops as well as mentoring students and being a guest speaker at SWE events over many years. She is also passionate about mentoring pre-college school students that are interested in STEM fields and was a keynote speaker at Expanding Your Horizons. She has supported United Way through leadership giving with a focus on women and children.

Dr. Rasmussen is a member of Tau Beta Pi and Beta Gamma Sigma, Engineering and Business Academic Honor societies, respectively. She and her husband Dan reside in Pittsford, NY and a part of the year in Copenhagen, Denmark. She speaks fluent Korean and has currently CEFR B1 level proficiency in Danish. Her two adult children are both in STEM fields, in medicine and computer science and physics.

CEO, Avotres Inc.

Sean X. Hu, Ph.D., MBA

Committee member for Startup Projects Program

Dr. Hu brings more than 25 years of broad experience in life science industries and academia, primarily in building and growing business, developing strategies for drug and diagnostics product development and commercialization, and, the scouting, evaluation & valuation of drug assets. He has built / run several companies in the US, including, for example, more recently Avotres Inc., a clinical-stage biopharma company developing autoimmune disease and cancer therapies targeting regulatory T cells.

Earlier, during his ~14-year management consulting career track for life science industries, Dr. Hu advanced through the career ladder, starting with such firms as AT Kearney and IMS Consulting, later becoming managing partners / heads of consulting firms such as Bionest USA and BioStrat Advisory LLC, and leaving the consulting industry as the head of healthcare consulting business in Americas for GlobalData PLC, a publicly listed global company headquartered in London.

Dr. Hu is a world-class expert in strategic decision-making and a recognized pioneer & thought leader in precision / personalized medicine strategy, as marked by high-profile personalized medicine strategy projects for top pharma clients, business publications in prestigious journals, and industry committee membership, and conference presentations. His experience is supplemented with earlier industry careers at CuraGen, BMS and Illumina. Dr. Hu holds a PhD in Genomics from NYU, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business double-majored in Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management.

Ignite Postdoc Committee Members

The Committee consists of four external committee members, two faculty representatives, directors of the three participating incubators and venture programs, and the Executive Director of CTL. The external committee members include early-stage venture investors and successful technology entrepreneurs familiar with university technology development and startup ecosystems who volunteer their time to support Cornell’s innovation. Faculty representatives are individuals with venture backgrounds and experience guiding next-generation entrepreneur engineers and scientists.

Partner – NYC Office, Polaris Partners

Alexandra Cantley

Alexandra joined Polaris in 2019 and serves as a partner in the New York office. She is primarily focused on early-stage biotech and healthcare investments.

She currently serves on the Board of Directors of BeMeHealth, Podimetrics, SunBird Bio, and TRex Bio and is a Board Observer to Auron Therapeutics and Engine Bio.

Prior to joining Polaris, Alexandra was part of the initial research team at Inzen Therapeutics, where she helped develop their platform technologies. She moved to Inzen from Vertex Pharmaceuticals, where she held a research fellowship.

Alexandra received a Ph.D. in Chemical Biology from Harvard University, where she studied natural product discovery. Alexandra performed her undergraduate studies at New York University.

Co-Founder & CSO at Endpoint Health, Inc.

Diego Rey

Diego is a skilled start-up executive, engineer, and scientist with extensive experience leading research efforts to develop products that help patients and physicians overcome healthcare obstacles. Prior to co-founding Endpoint Health, Diego invented the core technology and led investigational efforts related to Roche’s antibiotic therapy guidance research and development. Before Roche, Diego co-founded GeneWEAVE, a diagnostics company that developed rapid tests to detect and guide therapy choices for severe infections, which Roche acquired in 2015.

Diego received a BS in Electrical Engineering from UC Santa Barbara and an MS and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Cornell University.

Diego is a co-founder, board member, and Chief Scientific Officer of Endpoint Health. He employs his background in building multidisciplinary technical teams to create and develop the core technologies that enable Endpoint Health to deliver products to improve patient care.

Founder and CEO, Factorial Energy

Siyu Huang

Dr. Huang is the co-founder and CEO of Factorial and its heritage company, Lionano, which has raised $75M+ from US and European financial and strategic investors. She has established partnership agreements with 5 leading auto OEMs, 2 battery manufacturers, and 3 strategic material suppliers. She received her Ph.D. in Chemistry and MBA from Cornell and is a Six Sigma Black Belt.
S.C. Thomas Sze Director of the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell Engineering

David Erickson

David Erickson is the SC Thomas Sze Director and Sibley College Professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University. He is also a joint Professor within the Division of Nutritional Sciences. His research focuses on mobile and global health technology, medical diagnostics, microfluidics, photonics, and nanotechnology. Before joining the faculty, he was a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology, and he received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Toronto.

Research in the Erickson lab has been primarily funded through grants from the NIH, NSF, ARPA-E, ONR, DOE, DARPA, USAID, Nutrition International, and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Prof. Erickson has helped to found numerous start-up companies commercializing: high-throughput pharmaceutical instrumentation, biomedical diagnostics, and energy technologies, including Halo Labs, VitaScan, and Dimensional Energy.

Dr. Erickson has received the DARPA-MTO Young Faculty Award, the NSF CAREER Award, the Department of Energy Early Career Award, among others. In 2011 he was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientist and Engineers (PECASE) by President Obama. For his efforts in co-founding the field of optofluidics, Erickson has been named a fellow of the Optical Society of America and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Managing Director, New York Ventures at Empire State Development

Jennifer Teagan

Jennifer is Managing Director of New York Ventures (a division of Empire State Development), a $100 million investment fund allocated towards direct equity investments into promising Seed and Series A start-ups and their diverse founding teams across New York State. Before joining Empire State Development, Jennifer spent 18 years with Cayuga Venture Fund, where she invested in and supported entrepreneurs in technology-based start-ups.

Jennifer has served on the boards of GiveGab, Pom, True Gault, and Venuebook. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Tompkins Financial Corporation and its affiliate bank, Tompkins Trust Company. She serves the industry on the boards of the National Venture Capital Association and the Upstate Capital Association of New York. Previously she served on the board of Allworx, Inc. until its sale to Paetec Corporation.

Professor of Reproductive Biology, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

Alexander J. Travis

Dr. Alex Travis’s research explores a diverse set of subjects related to One Health, which is interdisciplinary work that links the health and wellbeing of people, animals, and the environment. His interests include animal and human health and fertility, as well as efforts to help alleviate poverty and hunger in developing countries, work that indirectly benefits local wildlife. Dr. Travis serves as Director of Cornell’s new Master of Public Health program.

Technology Advisors

Technology Advisors are experts in specific technology areas who provide feedback on select proposals.

Orange Grove Bio

Marc Appel

Marc Appel is the CEO of Orange Grove Bio ("OGB"), a biotech platform focused on the investment in and development of preclinical stage assets. He is an experienced investor in the healthcare and biotech spaces. He helped build the structured healthcare and royalty investing strategy at Marathon Asset Management, and prior to that worked across the capital structure in public market healthcare opportunities. Marc serves as an entrepreneur-in-residence to the Blavatnik program at Yale, a mentor to the Weill-Cornell eLab, a member of the external advisory review boards at both the Biotechnology Center at Stonybrook and the Dartmouth Innovations Accelerator for Cancer, and an adviser to the Robertson Fund at Rockefeller University.
Executive

Mike Kamarck

Dr. Michael Kamarck has spent his career in Biopharmaceuticals with extensive expertise in product development and manufacturing. He also has significant experience in management and leadership, having served in senior executive positions at leading pharmaceutical companies during a career that spans over 35 years.

Michael has recently retired as Chief Technology Officer for Vir Biotechnology, Inc. Over 4½ years he built and led a multi-modality technical approach to the development of treatments for serious infectious diseases such as COVID-19, influenza and hepatitis B. In May 2021, Vir Bio received Emergency Use Authorization for its broadly neutralizing COVID therapeutic monoclonal antibody Sotrovimab.

Over the last six years Michael has served as Chairman, Sanofi Biotech Advisory Council providing strategic guidance to Sanofi in the advancement of their growing biologicals business. He has also served on the Board of Directors for three public companies.

Before joining Vir Biotechnology, Dr. Kamarck was Senior Vice President of Global Vaccines and Biologics Manufacturing and President of Merck BioVentures where he was instrumental in establishing Merck’s global antibody infrastructure (Keytruda) and their biosimilars business.

Prior to Merck, Dr. Kamarck held numerous senior executive positions at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, including President, Technical Operations and Product Supply as a member of the Wyeth Management Team. While there he was responsible for establishing a global biotechnology network of more than 10,000 employees to develop and manufacture numerous blockbuster products, such as Enbrel (etanercept) and Prevnar.

Michael began his pharmaceutical career at Bayer AG serving in nine roles in research, development and technical operations over 16 years, including Senior Vice President of Operations for Bayer Biologicals.

Dr. Kamarck received his B.A. from Oberlin College, his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was a Leukemia Society Fellow at Yale University. He has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications and has 20 issued patents. He received an Honorary Doctorate from University College Dublin in 2009.

Kairos Ventures

Josh Palmer

Dr. Palmer began his career in the startup world as Head of R&D at a JPL biotech company called Verrix, a spin-out from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. He holds a Chemistry PhD from Caltech and spent 3 years as a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Columbia University. His academic publications have been cited nearly 1,000 times, and he holds several issued US patents.

At Kairos Ventures, Dr. Palmer is responsible for leading the Physical Sciences Investment Team in sourcing and due diligence of opportunities across the sciences, broadly defined to include innovations in materials, energy, communications, catalysis, robotics, autonomous vehicles, and medical devices. In addition, he has operational responsibilities for and sits on the Board of Directors of a number of portfolio companies. Dr. Palmer also manages the relationships with several of Kairos Ventures’ university partners.

In his free time, Dr. Palmer goes on long hikes in the mountains with his chihuahuas, Ferrous and Morty.

Beijing Institute of Collaborative Innovation (BICI)

Xinjian Zhou

Dr. Xinjian Zhou, Vice President of Beijing Institute of Collaborative Innovation (BICI) and President of BICI USA and BICI London.

Dr. Zhou received his B.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from Peking University and Cornell University, respectively. Before joining BICI, Dr. Zhou has worked in product development and system engineering as Staff Engineer at ASML, technology scouting and investment as Venture Manager at Technology-To-Business (TTB) center of Siemens, and technology transfer as BD director at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center(PARC).

Dr. Zhou is the recipient of Lockheed Martin’s “Excellent in Research” award and Sandia National Laboratory’s LDRD Award. He has more than 10 peer-reviewed papers and patents.

Technology Acceleration Partners

Emily Aston

Dr. Aston manages the animal health program at TechAccel. In her role she performs search and evaluation for new investment opportunities in animal health and nutrition and coordinates multi-stage science advancement projects involving multiple research partners.

Dr. Aston was trained as a poultry veterinarian and has expertise in virology, immunology, vaccines, and poultry management. She obtained her veterinary degree from Cornell University and her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, and she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Davis.

Dr. Aston is passionate about leveraging her animal science and technical expertise to drive innovation in animal health and nutrition.

Consultant

Mike McCourt

Genea Biomedx

Louis Villalba

MITRE

Ryan Luginbohl

Fluence

Peter O'Brien

C2 Ventures

Matt Olivo

Investor

Fred Barken

TandemLaunch

Omar Zahr

Orange Grove Bio

Hua Liao Job

Accelerate Cornell Innovation.

Ignite Commercialization and Venture