LeeAnn Applewhite, co-founder and president of Applied Food Technologies, Inc. (AFT) employs her experience and connections amassed over her 25+ years in the seafood industry to ensure AFT meets the needs of industry.
Applewhite began working with the seafood industry during her graduate studies as a food scientist at the University of Florida. After graduate school, Applewhite has succeeded as an inventor, an international technical consultant, a researcher, a board member of industry advocacy groups, and a leader within the seafood industry. In addition, she serves on several academic biotechnology advisory boards.
Under her leadership, AFT has defined the seafood species testing industry by harnessing the power of molecular-based methods and cutting-edge scientific techniques, offering the first tests capable of meeting the U.S. FDA’s guidance for regulatory compliance decisions. AFT has been performing species identification testing for the industry and regulatory agencies since 2005 and is the company the industry approaches when in need.
Jim joined UF Innovate | The Hub in August 2019 to assist Director Mark Long in day-to-day operations of the incubator as Mark and Jim O’Connell expand their responsibilities to include the development of the innovation district, in which The Hub is located.
Previous to joining The Hub, Jim ran not one but three incubators in South Orlando for the University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program. While at UCF, Jim’s client companies created more than 500 jobs and raised more than $40 million in investment capital. Of course, he expects even greater things with the mixed-use incubator he now helps lead.
Jim also directed the Columbus Regional Technology Incubator in Columbus, Georgia, and served as an adjunct professor of business for the university system of Georgia. He has more than 20 years in business development including AT&T, Orkin Exterminating Co., and four startup companies, including a dental startup featuring a double-sided toothbrush that went public.
Jim holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and an MBA from Texas Christian University. He has a talented wife Shelly, four children, and so many grandchildren he’s lost count of them. He is a direct descendant of the Jim Bowie of Alamo and Bowie knife fame.
John Engels is a founder and investor focused on new technology development and commercialization. John co-founded AxoGen, a leading medical technology company dedicated to peripheral nerve repair. Prior to AxoGen, he worked at UF, Saffron Hill Ventures and elsewhere on entrepreneurship and venture funding projects. John started his career as an investment banker. He is on the Board of Oxicool, Inc., a privately-held company providing disruptive cooling technologies. He holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at UPenn, and a BA from the University of Chicago.
Rupa Lloyd is a shareholder at GrayRobinson, P.A., in its Gainesville and Jacksonville law firm offices. With nearly two decades of experience and a certificate in health law, she specializes in health care operational, corporate, transactional and regulatory matters. She advises clients in many facets of their business, including privacy and data security, fraud and abuse, corporate governance, labor relations, licensure and discipline, quality improvement and healthcare risk management. She routinely conducts due diligence including the preparation and negotiation of agreements in connection with telehealth, software licensing, EMR, practice sale and acquisition, medical equipment, real property leases, physician employment, and medical directorships.
Rupa is licensed to practice in Florida and Pennsylvania and is an elected member of the Executive Council of the Florida Bar Health Law Section, and an approved Mediator with the American Health Lawyers Dispute Resolution Service. She has authored articles with the American Health Lawyers Association and MGMA, lectured on health law topics as an adjunct Professor of Law with University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate Healthcare Compliance program, participated as a guest lecturer at the University of Florida Levin College of Law and as a visiting Professor of Law at the University of Toledo College of Law.
Dan O’Korn is a partner with Hutchinson Law, where his practice focuses on the business transactions important to pharmaceutical and biotech companies, including licensing and commercial transactions, FDA-related regulatory matters, asset acquisitions and divestitures, supply agreements, product development agreements, and strategic alliances.
Dan previously served as outside counsel to life sciences companies and in in-house counsel roles for Eli Lilly and Company; AAIPharma, Inc.; Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; and Xcellerex, Inc.
He graduated summa cum laude from Indiana University School of Law and earned his bachelor’s degree from Wabash College.
Chelsey Simmons, Ph.D., is an innovative engineer who thrives building cross-disciplinary teams to solve complex problems at the intersection of mechanics and biology. She is faculty in the University of Florida’s College of Engineering and has a courtesy appointment in the College of Medicine. Under her leadership, the Simmons Mechanobiology Lab at UF investigates the interplay of mechanical forces and cell biology in health and disease.
The Simmons Mechanobiology Lab has received millions of dollars in federal funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation to support its research pursuits. Dr. Simmons also has a record of entrepreneurial success, having launched a laboratory tools company based on her doctoral research, and she continues to pursue commercialization of her research through new patents on consumer and biomedical products.
Dr. Simmons holds degrees from Harvard University (B.S.) and Stanford University (M.S., Ph.D.) and completed postdoctoral training at ETH Zurich.