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Our Company

A genuine belief in the power of hemp and cannabis drives everything we do.

Since 2014, we’ve worked to build the infrastructure necessary to support growers’ success in the hemp and cannabis markets. We believe hemp and cannabis can transform how we live–from advancements in health and wellness, to its many potential uses in feed and fiber, to aiding in the fight against climate change. Our mission is to make these transformations a reality by applying modern crop science to this amazing cannabis plant. Learn more about how we will achieve our mission.

We are a trusted team of scientists, technicians, and business professionals dedicated to improving hemp and cannabis through data-driven science.

We’re passionate about actively fostering a culture where every person is aware and responsible for upholding a diverse, inclusive, equitable, and accessible work environment. We actively seek out people with different backgrounds and encourage each person to bring the entirety of their culture and experiences to bear in the work that we do. We value inclusiveness because of the diversity of thought and ideas that stem from diversity of experience. We believe that collaboration between people with unique viewpoints and skill sets results in better products for our customers and a better workplace for our people.

Leadership

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Ralph Risch
Ralph RischChief Executive Officer
Ralph Risch

Ralph Risch is an experienced entrepreneur and business leader who has founded and successfully exited multiple companies in the high tech industry. He has a BS in Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Colorado.

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Nishan Karassik
Nishan KarassikCo-founder, Chief Innovation Officer
Nishan Karassik

Nishan Karassik is an entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience leading successful companies in both the service and manufacturing fields. He studied finance and economics at the University of Oregon.

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Dylan Anderson
Dylan AndersonChief Financial Officer
Dylan Anderson

Dylan Anderson is a senior financial executive with over 25 years of leadership experience in finance, accounting, operations, capital raises and M&A. Dylan has a BS in Finance & Marketing from the University of Oregon. 

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Alisha Holloway
Alisha Holloway, PhDChief Scientific Officer
Alisha Holloway

Alisha Holloway is a data scientist with expertise in genomics and statistical analysis of big data. She was an Assistant Professor at UC San Francisco School of Medicine, and was the founding director of the Gladstone Institutes Bioinformatics Core Facility. She earned a PhD focused on molecular evolution at the University of Texas in Austin.

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John McFerson
John McFersonVP of Breeding
John McFerson

John McFerson is an accomplished senior management and scientific leader with over 20+ years of experience and comprehensive background in overseeing and directing commercial seed, business intelligence, and product development functions to drive research & development programs for leading global agricultural organizations. He has a PhD in Plant Breeding and Genetics from Iowa State University.

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Julie Karassik
Julie KarassikVP of Business Operations
Julie Karassik

Julie Karassik brings over 20 years of business leadership focusing on growth, stability and strong team building in complex and evolving industries. Julie graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Oregon.

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Damon Hess
Damon HessVP of Sales
Damon Hess

Damon Hess has managed global sales teams in a variety of emerging industries like organic photovoltaics where perseverance eventually separated the signal from the noise. He holds a Masters from Georgetown University.

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Greg Ellis
Greg EllisGeneral Counsel
Greg Ellis

Greg Ellis is an experienced biotechnology attorney who brings extensive intellectual property expertise to Phylos. Greg holds a J.D. from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Oregon.

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Advisory Board

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Lada Rasochova
Lada Rasochova, PhD
Lada Rasochova

Dr. Rasochova is the founder and CEO of Dermala Inc., and Director of the Entrepreneurship program at the UCSD Rady School of Management. She has held leadership positions in biotech and pharma for over 15 years, including as the R&D leader of vaccine technologies at DowPharma.

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Ron Wulfkuhle
Ron Wulfkuhle
Ron Wulfkuhle

Head of Seed for Farmers Business Network; previously Head of Enogen, and CEO of GreenLeaf Genetics from its start through acquisition by Syngenta. Deep experience in genetic licensing and commercial seed sales in N. America and Europe, and leadership roles in the American Seed Trade Association.

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Lukas Mueller
Lukas Mueller, PhD
Lukas Mueller

Accomplished bioinformatician with expertise in plant genomics. He is assistant professor at The Boyce Institute and Cornell University, where he leads the Cassavabase genomic plant breeding program. Founded CodingStrand LLC to provide guidance and oversight to the Phylos cannabis breeding program.

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Kimberlie Cerrone
Kimberlie Cerrone
Kimberlie Cerrone

A deal-maker, IP strategist, lawyer, startup advisor, and venture capitalist. C-level executive at nine venture capital-backed companies, two of which she took from formation to IPO. Currently Founder and CEO of Tiatros, a digital therapeutics for Behavioral Health company.

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D.A. Wallach
D.A. Wallach
D.A. Wallach

Recording artist, songwriter, investor, and essayist. Investor and advisor to companies including SpaceX, Doctor On Demand, Ripple, Emulate and Spotify, where he was the official Artist in Residence. Named to Forbes 30 Under 30 and Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People in Business.

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Sue Rhee
Sue Rhee, PhD
Sue Rhee

Dr. Rhee is a Professor of Plant Biology at the Carnegie Institute and Stanford University. Her group studies the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation and evolution of adaptive traits and metabolic networks in plants.

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Jeanne Sullivan
Jeanne Sullivan
Jeanne Sullivan

Legendary NYC Venture Capitalist, and now a central figure in cannabis startup funding. Co-founder of StarVest Partners, member of the Women’s Leadership Board of the Harvard Kennedy School, and an Athena Entrepreneur Fellow for Barnard College. Currently General Partner in the ArcView Venture Fund.

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Olga Mack
Olga Mack
Olga Mack

Blockchain strategist, public speaker, and adjunct professor at Berkeley Law. VP of Strategy at Quantstamp, the first decentralized security auditing blockchain platform. Served as General Counsel at ClearSlide and has worked at Visa, Zoosk, Pacific Art League, Wilson Sonsini, and Yahoo.

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Sally Pera
Sally Pera
Sally Pera

Over three decades of experience connecting CEOs with politicians, educators, and community leaders. During a decade as CEO of the Association for Corporate Growth in the Silicon Valley she worked with over 2500 CEO’s and top executives and most San Francisco Bay Area colleges and universities.

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Glenda Anderson
Glenda Anderson
Glenda Anderson

A serial entrepreneur who has built award-winning products from blank sheet of paper to commercial success in fields from genomics to medical instrumentation to software-based oncology diagnostics. Co-author on 20+ peer-reviewed publications; named inventor on 7+ patents.

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Gail Taylor, PhD
Gail Taylor, PhD
Gail Taylor, PhD

Professor Gail Taylor is Chair of the Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis. Gail is a global leader in Plant and Sustainability Sciences with current research focused on sustainable bioenergy systems and molecular breeding of high value leafy greens grown in indoor vertical agricultural systems.

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Timothy Gregory
Timothy Gregory, PhD
Timothy Gregory

Dr. Gregory recently retired as Senior Director of the Process Sciences Division at Genentech. He is currently Co-Founder & Senior VP at a new company focused on treatments targeting cancer stem cells, and is Chairman of the Advisory Board for the University of California Botanical Garden.

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Rob Brown
Rob Brown, PhD
Rob Brown

Dr. Brown is Senior Director at Synthetic Genomics Inc. where he leads a genome engineering team developing microbes for the production of advanced biofuels and chemicals. He has over 20 issued patents and pending applications in various areas of industrial biotechnology.

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Barbara Mazur
Barbara Mazur, PhD
Barbara Mazur

Barbara Mazur retired from DuPont Pioneer in 2019, where she led Technology Acquisition Strategy, including venture investments and external collaborations. Prior to that that she led Research Strategy, Trait Technologies, and Crop Protection and Genomics Strategy for the company.

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Larry Smart
Larry Smart, PhD
Larry Smart

Dr. Larry Smart is a Professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University and is Associate Director of Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, NY. He is a plant geneticist and physiologist, and leads Cornell’s research and plant breeding efforts in industrial hemp.

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