|4 April 2016|
The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) announced today that President and CEO of NexSteppe, Anna Rath, has been selected by a committee of her peers to be the recipient of the 2016 BIO Rosalind Franklin Award. The Rosalind Franklin Award was established by BIO to honor an outstanding woman in the field of industrial biotechnology.
“I’m extremely honored to be chosen for this award and flattered by the extraordinary company of former award winners,” said Rath. “NexSteppe is committed to enabling the bioeconomy by providing high-quality, cost-effective, scalable and reliable feedstocks for the entire range of biopower, biogas, advanced and cellulosic biofuels and biobased products. As the commercial scale of these industries grows, so too does the need for and focus on the availability of these sustainable and dependable raw materials. We are excited to be doing our part to help drive the continued growth and development of the bioeconomy.”
“Much like Rosalind Franklin, Anna Rath’s passion for science and strong work ethic has led to one of the greatest breakthroughs in industrial biotechnology. Optimizing crops for renewable energy has spurred the growth of the biofuels, biopower, and biobased product industries,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president for BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “BIO is pleased to present Anna this year with the Rosalind Franklin Award and we are looking forward to her delivering what are anticipated to be inspiring remarks.”
With the goal of showcasing the significant contributions of women in science, this prestigious Award calls attention to an accomplished scientist and her unique research and productivity in biotechnology. “We know that this Award honors all women in science, and provides a role model for those who will no doubt follow in her footsteps, Next Steps!” commented Karla Shepard Rubinger, Executive Director of the Rosalind Franklin Society.
Rosalind Franklin’s use of X-ray diffraction images led to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA in 1953. Her work was published alongside but not recognized as a contributing factor to Francis Crick’s and James Watson’s model of the structure of DNA.
Anna will receive the award and give a plenary session talk at the upcoming BIO World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology plenary luncheon session on April 19, 2016 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. A special selection committee chose Anna for her commitment to the advancement of the field of industrial biotechnology.
In 2010, Anna founded NexSteppe to develop and commercialize optimized crops for renewable energy and fuel. In less than five years, Anna built NexSteppe from zero to a global team of over 40 people.
As her team grew, NexSteppe’s operations also expanded. Anna has established operations in the U.S., Brazil, Singapore, Europe and China plus research and production activities in Puerto Rico and Bolivia.
The company developed, registered, and launched its first hybrid seed products in Brazil in under three years. NexSteppe uses a combination of directed conventional breeding, marker-assisted breeding and cutting-edge analytical techniques to continuously improve its elite germplasm collection. The company is also refining crop management practices and supply chain operations to provide optimized, fully-integrated feedstock solutions.
This technology platform has allowed NexSteppe to become the leader in bioenergy sorghums, first in Brazil and now globally. Commercial partners have trialed its products in more than twenty countries on five continents. Under Anna’s leadership, NexSteppe is laying a foundation for a sustainable and secure future for our economy, our environment, and our energy supply.
Anna was formerly Vice President of Commercial Development for Ceres, where she built and launched their energy crop business. Prior to Ceres, she was a consultant with McKinsey focused on corporate strategy, assessment of new business initiatives, and business building in various technology sectors.
She holds a JD from Yale Law School, an MS in Genetics from the University of Michigan and a BA in Biology from Macalester College. She also serves on the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s Industrial and Environmental Section Governing Board.
Past recipients of the Franklin Award are Dr. Jennifer Holmgren, CEO, LanzaTech in 2015; Dr. Debbie Yaver, Director, Expression Technology, Genomics and Bioinformatics, Novozymes in 2014.