Advisory Board

Newly revamped in 2020, our advisory board at UF Innovate | Accelerate at Sid Martin Biotech includes a variety of experience and expertise pertinent to the issues biotech companies face. This advisory board is in place to provide advice to management, counsel to the clients, and connections for both.
Photo of LeeAnn Applewhite LeeAnn Applewhite President, Applied Food Technologies

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.

Photo of John Engels John Engels Entrepreneur & Startup Cofounder

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.

Photo of James Gibson James Gibson Investor and Founder

James Gibson is an investor and founder focused on seed stage investments in rapid growth enterprises. James is co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Quottly, Inc., a VC backed inter-institution registration solution for college and university systems. He holds a Master of Finance, Bachelor’s of Art and Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Florida. He also serves as the current president of startGNV, an entrepreneurial support organization.

Photo of Rupa Lloyd Rupa Lloyd Mergers & Acquisition, Tech Transfer

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.

Photo of Dan L. O’Korn Dan L. O’Korn Bioscience Attorney

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.

Photo of Merrie Shaw Merrie Shaw Startup & Incubation Expert

A force behind the success at UF Innovate | Sid Martin Biotech for 16 years, Merrie brings her knowledge of biotech business incubation management and her insight into successful entrepreneurship to her advising role at both The Hub and Sid Martin Biotech.

Photo of Chelsey Simmons Chelsey Simmons Engineer, Seasoned Entrepreneur

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.