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Bios

Members of the SBIR/STTR Subcommittee of the Directorate for Engineering Advisory Committee

  • Annette Finsterbusch (Chair) has extensive experience as an operating executive and as a venture capitalist, focusing on early-stage investments in technology companies. Annette is currently the President and CEO of EnPower, Inc., a Phoenix-based lithium-ion battery company focused on the electrification of vehicles. Before joining EnPower, Annette was the Founder and Senior Director of Applied Ventures, the strategic investing arm of Applied Materials, where she led investments in solid state lighting, energy storage, fuel cells, and lithography. She also served as CEO of MindShadow, Inc., a spin-out from DaimlerChrysler’s Research and Technology Center, focused on automotive infotainment systems, and Ketra, Inc., an early-stage company that developed high quality LED lighting products with IOT capabilities. Having been both investor and fundraiser, Annette has a unique perspective on how to build strong, lean, successful startups. Annette has extensive experience on both corporate and non-profit boards. She currently serves as a Member of the SBIR/STTR Subcommittee, Directorate for Engineering Advisory Committee of the National Science Foundation. Annette is both a fellow and mentor in the prestigious international Society of Kauffman Fellows, where she was awarded the first Jeffrey Timmons Memorial Award for service. Annette has a bachelor’s degree in Geology and Economics, an MBA, and she is certified as an integral coach.

  • Victoria Gonzalez has spent 30 years leading organizations as a change agent and entrepreneur. Educated as an engineer, she worked for Fortune 100 companies for 15 years implementing new technology solutions. In 2000, Victoria shifted her focus to technology startups, playing a significant role in helping to build the biotech startup community in St Louis. More recently, Victoria has turned her focus to education and small business as effective ways to address the socio-economic divide in our country and her community. She serves on the Board of Marian Middle School, a school with a mission of breaking the cycle of poverty for inner-city girls and teaches The Basics of Bioentrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis. Victoria Gonzalez received a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Texas A&M in 1984 and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis in 1990 and is a 2019 DCI Fellow at Stanford.

  • Matthew J. Higgins is Professor of Entrepreneurship & Strategy in the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, Director of the Sorenson Center for Discovery and Innovation, a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition (Munich, Germany). His research interests center primarily on firm responses to productivity challenges and the performance implications of these decisions. Most of his research has been conducted within the context of the pharmaceutical industry and has been published in a diverse range of leading journals. Matthew has received funding and support from the Georgia Research Alliance, Kauffman Foundation, Rich Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NSF, Pfizer Inc., and IMS Health, Inc. He is also the recipient of numerous teaching awards from the undergraduate, MBA and Executive MBA programs.

  • Cathy Hill is President of The Plummer – Hill Group (PHG), LLC providing strategic business development services. Georgia Chamber of Commerce engaged PHG to develop Georgia InVenture Prize, an annual college innovation competition. Cathy is also a Managing Director with Golden Seeds, Inc. a discerning network of investors, seeking and funding high-potential, women-led businesses. Cathy retired as vice president of Georgia Power Company after 33 years of leading real estate, transportation, engineering, construction, customer operations, external affairs and as assistant to the president & CEO. She received the Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech and the Master of Business Administration from Georgia State University. She completed executive management programs at Harvard Business School and Cambridge University’s Judge School of Business. She is enrolled in Georgia State University’s Executive Doctorate in Business Administration program. Cathy’s civic achievements have been recognized in resolutions from Georgia’s governor and state general assembly.

  • Mary Juhas is associate vice president in the Office of Research at the Ohio State University. In this role, she develops programs that expand pathways to research leadership. As the leader of Ohio State ADVANCE, Mary directs “REACH for Commercialization™”, a career development program for women innovators. She is an angel investor. For two years, Mary served as program director in the Directorate for Engineering at NSF. She is a Fellow of ASM International; former ABET board member and past president of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). Mary earned a Master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Ohio State University. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Paris. Mary has held engineering research and leadership positions at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Edison Welding Institute.

  • Kirsten Leute of Osage University Partners (OUP) is responsible for the relationships with the more than 100 academic institutions that are partnered with the fund, engaging potential new partner institutions, and enhancing and creating value-add programs for the partnered academic institutions. Kirsten is an experienced technology transfer professional, spending 19 years in technology transfer at Stanford University and the German Cancer Research Center. Prior to joining OUP, she was Associate Director at Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing. Over her career at Stanford, she managed portfolios of inventions in most technology areas, but concentrated in biotechnology. Kirsten has also been actively involved in technology transfer outside her daily work. She is a former two-time board member for the Association of University Technology Managers and speaks frequently on university technology transfer.

  • William Lockwood Benet is a Puerto Rican (PR) development economist and banker working on technology strategy, U.S. multinationals and public finance. He has advised PR investments in biotech, private toll roads, LNG generation, telecom privatization and banks. He is a co-founder of an analytical tools company serving global biotech clients, a University of PR spinoff; of Grupo Guayacan, general partner to funds of funds investing in the United States and Europe and direct funds in PR. He is a former President of the Government Development Bank for PR (GDB) -financial advisor to the central government, public utilities, pension plans and local government units. An early advocate for fiscal discipline and biopharma cluster growth, he served at GDB for nine years across five Administrations and has advised the White House, U.S. Treasury Department, N.Y. Federal Reserve Bank and FDIC on Puerto Rico. He is a civil society representative at the IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings.

  • Richard Morganstern was the former Managing Partner of a Beverly Hills based intellectual property and business litigation and counseling law firm. He was the former Chairman of a NASD licensed investment-banking firm, which focused on arranging funding, principally from foreign sources, for domestic early stage technology companies. He co-founded Language Weaver, Inc. an In-Q-Tel funded company spun out of University of Southern California’s computer science department and the world's leading supplier of statistically based natural language translation systems. Richard is an active Angel investor. He is the former President and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Tech Coast Angels LA Network, whose members have funded over 400 companies and are the leading source of angel funding and guidance for early stage, high growth companies in Southern California. He serves as the Board Chairman of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI). Richard also serves on the Board of Advisors for the UCLA Anderson School of Management’s Global Access Program. He has served as a member of the Advisory Board of USC's Center for Technology Commercialization, a guest lecturer for the California Institute of Technology Entrepreneurial Fellowship Program and a Distinguished Speaker at USC's Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. He is a member of the California, New York, Patent Office and Supreme Court Bars. He holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a J.D. from Cornell University. He resides in Brentwood California with his wife and two extraordinary dogs.

  • For over a decade, Genoa Ventures’ founder and managing director Jenny Rooke has been deploying capital at the frontiers of life sciences innovation, with a penchant for technology-fueled solutions and category-defying opportunities. Jenny got her start in venture at Fidelity Biosciences, a Cambridge-based healthcare venture capital fund, during their Fund I formation. Jenny then brought her unique toolkit of genetics domain expertise, strategic business acumen, and venture investing to the Gates Foundation, where she deployed and managed over $250M in funding in genetic engineering, diagnostics, and synthetic biology. She also played a key role in establishing the foundation’s investing function. In 2014, Jenny began independently investing under the brand 5 Prime Ventures, financing her investments using what has become the largest life sciences syndicate on AngelList, and one of the highest-performing AngelList syndicates of any sector. Jenny founded Genoa Ventures in 2018, building on the 5 Prime Ventures track record, in order to scale a proven, differentiated investing strategy, to ensure continued access to the very best deals, and to maximize portfolio returns.

  • Skip Rung is the President and Executive Director of ONAMI, Oregon’s first “Signature Research Center,” founded in 2003 to advance materials and device research at Oregon’s universities and to commercialize technology via science-based startup companies. Since 2006, ONAMI’s commercialization gap fund has made $12.6M in grant disbursements and investments, enabling over 50 portfolio companies to raise over $450M (~90% private capital) in leveraged funding and revenue. In 2012, ONAMI received the State Science and Technology Institute Excellence in TBED (Technology-Based Economic Development) award for Commercializing Research. Skip is an angel investor and a member of the Oregon Venture Fund investment committee. From 1987 to 2001, Skip led Advanced Research and Development at Hewlett-Packard’s Corvallis, OR facility, responsible for multiple generations of HP’s inkjet printing technology. He holds Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering and Master of Science in Electrical Engineering degrees from Stanford University.

  • Ann Savoca has 30 years of experience in chemical manufacturing working for NYSE listed Fortune 500 corporations. After graduating from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1985 with a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry, she joined Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. as an industrial research chemist. She held numerous technical positions at Air Products before moving to National Starch and Chemical Company, a subsidiary of Imperial Chemicals Industries (ICI). Over the course of her tenure at National Starch, Ann held a variety of management positions and ultimately became Vice President of Research and Development and a member of National Starch’s Executive Management Team. In 2008, Ann joined Sealed Air Corporation as Global Vice President, Technology and Innovation with responsibility for Sealed Air’s global research organization. She worked at Sealed Air until 2013 before retiring. Over her career, Ann has served on many academic, industrial and government committees. These include Advisory committees for MIT and Case Western Reserve, Board of Directors for the Industrial Research Institute, Board of Editors for Research & Technology Management and various advisory positions within the NSF including the Advisory Committee for NSF’s Engineering Directorate and NSF visiting committees. Ann is currently a member of the advisory subcommittee for IIP’s SBIR and STTR programs where she co-chairs the Broadening Participation and Deal Flow working group. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) and is Chair of the ORAU Foundation Board. Ann is an inventor on over 30 patents and has authored numerous scientific publications. In her spare time, Ann enjoys gardening, competitive pickleball and bowling.

  • Stuart Schoenmann brings than 35+ years of expertise in the applied technology and high-tech industries, including more than a decade in the CEO role. He currently participates on and chairs the Board of Directors for multiple U.S. technology and healthcare companies. Stuart has held partnership positions in venture capital, including his association with Norwest Equity Partners. With business and technical knowledge gained through work experience at notable companies -- IDEX/CVI Melles Griot; Danaher/Fluke/Raytek; Corning; Perkin-Elmer; and Rockwell International -- Stuart has driven aggressive growth strategies to lead companies from $10 million to $200+ million in sales. Stuart’s holds a bachelor’s degree in physics with honors from the University of California San Diego (with a year of laser physics at the University of Sussex) and master’s degree in business administration with honors from the University of Southern California.