Staff Directory

Leadership Team

Photo of Jim O’Connell Jim O’Connell Assistant Vice President

Jim serves as the Assistant Vice President for Commercialization, leading UF Innovate, the umbrella organization over Tech Licensing, Sid Martin Biotech and The Hub. Jim is also the director of Tech Licensing. He works with internal and external constituents to provide strategic leadership and direction in building and capitalizing on facilities, expertise and technology at UF.

Before joining UF Innovate, Jim directed the tech transfer office at the University of Miami and served as the director of the Michigan Venture Center at the University of Michigan. Jim came to tech transfer with 20 years of industry experience. He worked in two startups in the medical device industry. He also served in the U.S. Air Force as a helicopter pilot.

Jim earned his M.S. in engineering management from the University of Maryland and his B.S. in aeronautical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic.

Photo of John Byatt John Byatt Associate Director, Tech Licensing

In 2005 John joined Tech Licensing as a licensing officer, working predominantly with faculty in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Dentistry to evaluate, patent, license and commercialize new technology. He serves as the Associate Director in OTL.

John worked almost 19 years as a research scientist working with Monsanto’s Animal Agricultural Division working on or leading a variety of projects including: development and launch of the first production animal biotech product – recombinant bovine somatotropin for increasing milk yield of dairy cattle; evaluating the use of growth promoters for aquaculture; and identification, validation and use of DNA markers to increase genetic gain in livestock.

John Byatt received a B.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of London and a Ph.D. from the University of Reading while working at the National Institute for Research in Dairying. He spent two and a half years as a post-doc in the Department of Dairy Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Photo of Jackson Streeter Jackson Streeter Director, Ventures

As the director of UF Innovate | Ventures, Dr. Jackson Streeter will lead efforts to fuel consistent growth in the number and quality of UF technology-based startup companies. He will source new venture investments, prepare in-depth financial and data analyses for potential investments, work closely with angel groups and other investment funds, and develop entrepreneurs. Jackson will serve as a liaison between public and private sectors in the application and implementation of an investment program intended to support UF startups.

Before joining UF Innovate, Jackson was the CEO and executive director of the Florida Technology Seed Capital Fund, a seed-stage venture fund investing in companies commercializing technologies developed at Florida universities, colleges or research institutes. Under his direction, the fund created more than 50 companies with private investment matching Florida state funding at a 9:1 ratio. Jackson also served as the CEO of Banyan Biomarkers, a UF startup commercializing the first-ever blood test for traumatic brain injury that received FDA clearance in early 2018. Jackson also founded and served as CEO for PhotoThera, Inc., where he raised more than $120M in private capital and designed and managed five U.S. and international clinical trials for the treatment of stroke. He also co-founded American Veterinary Laser, which was acquired in a private transaction.

Jackson is the inventor of more than 20 patented technologies and the author on multiple scientific publications.

He earned his B.S. degree in biology from the University of Nevada Reno and his M.D. from the University of Nevada School of Medicine. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy, completing a general surgery internship at Naval Regional Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, and then primary flight school at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. During his military service, he was the first naval flight surgeon selected as a Top Gun staff instructor, served on several overseas deployments, and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal and the Navy Commendation Medal.

Photo of Karl R. LaPan Karl R. LaPan Director, Incubation Services

Karl leads both of UF Innovate’s award-winning incubators, Sid Martin Biotech in Alachua and The Hub, a mixed-use incubator, in Gainesville. Under his leadership, UF Innovate | Incubation Services provides a place and a program, coaching and connections to give emerging companies the best chance for ongoing success.

Before joining UF Innovate in late spring of 2021, Karl served as president and CEO of the NIIC, a non-profit entrepreneurial support organization in Fort Wayne, Indiana, since its inception in 2000. Like UF Innovate’s Incubation Services, the NIIC supports entrepreneurs as they plan, launch, and grow successful business ventures so companies can “move ideas into action.”

Under LaPan’s direction, entrepreneurs through the NIIC have launched 499 products, applied for 196 patents (most have been granted), created 2,351 jobs, and attracted more than $100 million in grants and capital. He also established a Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center to serve women business owners more effectively, built a portfolio of inclusive support grants to give underrepresented groups greater access to entrepreneurial services, and launched a Kiva Hub in collaboration with the City of Fort Wayne and two other organizations to crowdfund inclusive and diverse entrepreneurs in Northeast Indiana.

LaPan graduated with a master’s degree in human resources from American University after earning a bachelor’s degree in business management from Franklin Pierce University. He has a number of certifications related to entrepreneurship, mentoring, emotional intelligence, leadership and management, and financial management. He is a licensed real estate broker.

Photo of Jennifer Harrell Jennifer Harrell Assistant Director, The Hub

Jennifer manages the day-to-day operations of the business incubator in order to facilitate a supportive and encouraging environment for aspiring entrepreneurs to grow. She works with UF Incubation Services leadership to meet occupancy and revenue goals; implement programs, new initiatives, and special projects; monitor client performance; meet social media metrics; and establish operational goals and objectives that align with the overall strategic plan. She oversees facilities, reception, financial and contractual functions, and event management for The Hub.

Jennifer is an experienced manager with a history of working in both the private and public sectors of sales, hospitality, real estate law, finance, and accounting. She has been with The Hub since 2016 and was part of the team when The Hub was awarded the 2018 International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) Global Mixed-Use Incubator of the Year award.

Jennifer obtained her accounting degree from Fisher School of Accounting at UF and is currently the Treasurer of the Florida Incubation Association. She holds an Incubation Management Certificate from the InBIA as well as both Fiscal and HR certificates from UF, and was a Leadership Gainesville Graduate (Go Green!).

Photo of Elliott Welker Elliott Welker Assistant Director, Sid Martin Bio

Elliott works on programs and progress for startup companies and recently launched the Innovate NaviGator pilot program, which includes gathering and posting information for communitywide events for entrepreneurs.

Before joining UF Innovate, Elliott was a business development intern for ReliOx Corporation, a resident startup at Sid Martin Biotech; a legal assistant for Robert S. Griscti, Esq., assisting him in his practice of white-collar criminal law, criminal defense, federal and state litigation, professional licensing and appeals; and volunteered with the North Central Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

He earned his BA in history with a minor in teaching English as a second language (2013) and MBA focusing on entrepreneurship and marketing (2017) from UF. He was a Bob Graham Center for Public Service Student Fellow and Poe Center for Business Ethics Education and Research MBA Fellow.

Photo of Anita Rao Anita Rao Program Director, Pathways
Photo of Wanda Eugene Ph.D. Wanda Eugene, Ph.D. Director, Collaboratory

Tech Licensing

Photo of Autumn Arranz Autumn Arranz Licensing Associate for Rick Croley

Autumn Arranz joined UF Innovate in March of 2019 as a Licensing Associate working with Richard Croley in the fields of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and software. They review invention disclosures to determine patentability or commercial potential by meeting with innovators to determine if a patent, trademark or copyright should be filed She manages all aspects of the patenting process, including implementation of all federal reporting obligations as required under the Bayh-Dole Act, comply with all federal and state grants and regulations.

Before joining UF Innovate, Autumn worked for the University of Miami in the Office of Technology Transfer as the Patent Coordinator. She primarily focused her efforts on database management and analysis for all submitted Invention Disclosures, Ideas, Patent Prosecution activity and Agreements such as Licenses, MTAs and CDAs. She also provided research data/analysis reporting to University colleagues and Leadership as well as special projects with regard to individuals and companies working with UM based technologies.

Prior to joining the University of Miami, she spent 17 years in the Aviation private sector with a focus on Human Resources and Government Contracting including solicitation and management of two consecutive DoD awarded contracts. Autumn’s training and experience include Grant and Solicitation drafts, Government and ISO Audits and compliance and research/analysis reporting.

Autumn received her B.A in Journalism/Political Science at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Photo of Noel Burmeister Noel Burmeister Licensing Associate

Noel works with Licensing Officer Anita Rao, assisting in portfolio management for the life science area. She and Anita manage invention disclosures, patent prosecution, MTAs, CDAs, research agreements and licensing agreements for UF innovators in the life sciences. Many of her innovators are those in the UF Departments of Medicine and Pharmacy.

Before joining Tech Licensing in 2001, Noel worked at the Third District Court of Appeal in Miami. She worked at UF Innovate | Tech Licensing until 2009, moved to the University of South Florida’s tech transfer office for 2010-June 2014, and then returned to UF in her current role.

Noel graduated from Florida International University with a master’s degree in criminal justice.

Photo of John Byatt John Byatt Associate Director, Tech Licensing

In 2005 John joined Tech Licensing as a licensing officer, working predominantly with faculty in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Dentistry to evaluate, patent, license and commercialize new technology. He serves as the Associate Director in OTL.

John worked almost 19 years as a research scientist working with Monsanto’s Animal Agricultural Division working on or leading a variety of projects including: development and launch of the first production animal biotech product – recombinant bovine somatotropin for increasing milk yield of dairy cattle; evaluating the use of growth promoters for aquaculture; and identification, validation and use of DNA markers to increase genetic gain in livestock.

John Byatt received a B.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of London and a Ph.D. from the University of Reading while working at the National Institute for Research in Dairying. He spent two and a half years as a post-doc in the Department of Dairy Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Photo of Melanie Campos Melanie Campos Licensing Associate for Melissa Kuchma

Mel assists with new disclosure triage, coordination of patentability review and timeliness of filing, and management of patent applications from filing through expiration. She assists with marketing IP to identify commercial partners, completion of CDAs/NDAs, and throughout the negotiation process to execution of licenses. She liaises with innovators, patent attorneys, and licensees on patent strategy matters. She manages federal compliance and commercially funded reporting obligations for IP.

Mel began her work at UF as an OPS/Clerk in October 2004, became a senior secretary in March 2005, and moved into the Licensing Associate position in July 2007. In addition to her core responsibilities, Mel also served at MTA Coordinator from 2005-2014.

She graduated with a B.A. in pre-law from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Photo of Karen Crespo Karen Crespo Licensing Associate for Hera Lichtenbeld

Karen Crespo joined the UF Innovate | Tech Licensing office in August 2017, working as a Licensing Associate handling technologies in the fields of physical sciences, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and software. She manages all aspects of the patenting process, including implementation of all federal reporting obligations as required under the Bayh-Dole Act and ensuring all data is accurate for contracts managed by the licensing team. She facilitates communications with innovators, the marketing team, attorneys and licensees, coordinating and processing correspondence and providing liaison support to adhere to the rules and regulations guarding the tech transfer system.

Karen started her career as a court reporter, working in the field for 10 years, next working as an IP paralegal in the legal field for 13 years.

She earned her B.S. in Office Management with a concentration in Court Reporting from Husson College in Bangor, Maine. She received her paralegal and cancer data management certificates from Northeastern University in Boston.

Photo of Rick Croley Rick Croley Assistant Director, Licensing Officer
Photo of Sara Dagen Sara Dagen Marketing & Communications Manager

Sara handles marketing and communications for all of the entities under UF Innovate. On any given day, she might mine news about our startups or innovators to share on social media, edit website content or find a fix for one more glitch, create flyers or documents for events, plan events, or write articles about the exciting happenings at UF Innovate.

After joining the UF Innovate team in 2014, Sara worked her way up from a technical editor to the communications manager. In these capacities, Sara is forced to use both sides of her brain, interpreting science speak to communicate to a business audience. Previously, she used both sides of her brain teaching Algebra and English to middle and high school students. She also worked at The Gainesville Sun as a writer and editor.

Sara holds a B.S. in journalism and a M.Ed. in educational technology from the University of Florida.

Photo of Carla Dolder Carla Dolder Administrative Support Assistant
Photo of Penelope Gianelli Penelope Gianelli MTA Coordinator

Penny assists in arranging the material transfer agreements (MTAs) for researchers to receive or send research materials. These are predominately (but not all) in the nature of “scientific sharing” for academic research and do not include fee-for-service agreements (DSP), purchase agreements (Procurement), sponsored research or grants (DSP), or clinical trial agreements (OCT).

When materials are requested from a UF researcher, Penny can assist in determining if an MTA is needed to send the material to another academic researcher. If an MTA is needed, she takes over coordinating the request with the requester’s technology office. If a for-profit entity is requesting material, in conjunction with the appropriate licensing officer, Tech Licensing can consider whether a license is more appropriate. In either case, Penny will evaluate the IP terms and their ramifications on the researcher’s work and potential publications. It is important that materials not be transferred without an MTA as the sender may lose valuable rights.

When a UF researcher requests material from another academic institution or for-profit company, Penny assists in reviewing and revising the agreement provided, or suggests an agreement form if the provider does not have one. She reviews the terms and implications with each researcher to be sure the agreements are understood and acceptable. The goal is to free scientists to work on science instead of administrative paperwork.

Prior to coming to UF, Penny was an attorney in private practice, working in real estate development and private corporations. She graduated from Emory University Law School and Stetson University.

Photo of Rachel Harding Rachel Harding Assistant Director, Licensing Officer

Rachel serves as a licensing officer, working with researchers in the life sciences, usually in the medical or biomedical space. Previously, Rachel worked as the licensing liaison, working in concert with the licensing teams to review and track biological materials and related rights, particularly those related to AAV gene therapy. Now she works to protect intellectual property and license technologies to industry members that can make the most of UF research.

Before joining Tech Licensing as a licensing liaison in 2016, Rachel was a postdoctoral researcher at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center of the Ohio State University.

She graduated with a B.S. from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in the biological sciences from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

Photo of Sally Helgeson Sally Helgeson Licensing Associate, Lenny Terry

Sally joined UF Innovate |Tech Licensing as a licensing associate in September 2019.

A Navy veteran and native of Michigan, Sally has held various executive support positions throughout her career. Upon her discharge from the Navy, she began working for the criminal court system.  She held the position of crime victim rights advocate for the Van Buren County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Michigan for seven years.  She also worked as the executive assistant to the chief operating officer for Kalamazoo Community Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services in Michigan.

In June 2014, Sally began working for the University of Florida as a grants specialist in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Prior to joining UF Innovate | Tech Licensing, she worked as the assistant to the associate provost for the Office of Undergraduate Affairs.

Photo of Pamela Kelly Pamela Kelly Administrative Support Assistant

Pamela works with three licensing teams to help coordinate their conversations with inventors and/or outside parties and to send correspondence on their behalf.

Pamela has worked for the State of Florida since 2013 and joined UF Innovate | Tech Licensing in January 2019. She also worked for Shands from 1984-2003, serving in obstetrics for 15 years and vascular surgery for 4 years.

Photo of Melissa Kuchma Melissa Kuchma Assistant Director, Licensing Officer

In 2020, Melissa joined UF Innovate | Tech Licensing as a licensing officer and works in the medical, biotechnology, chemical, and software disciplines to connect faculty and their inventions with licensees. An active member of the Florida startup community, she is the founder of a medical device company working in the field of pharmacogenomics. She currently holds a faculty appointment at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine.

As a faculty member at MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, Melissa headed a biomarker research group that developed diagnostics, conducted clinical trials, and investigated the biological applications of nanoparticles. Previously, she was a founding research member of the NanoScience Technology Center at the University of Central Florida, and she was part of the Operational and Evaluation Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), where she worked closely with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard. She has been an invited speaker and presenter at conferences, including the American Chemical Society, Society for Neuroscience, Materials Research Society, the American Association for Cancer Research, and BioFlorida.

A returning Gator, Melissa earned her B.S. in chemistry from the University of Florida and her Ph.D. in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where her research focused on radiopharmaceutical design and synthesis in conjunction with Harvard Medical School.

Photo of Hera Lichtenbeld Hera Lichtenbeld Assistant Director, Licensing Officer

Hera joined UF Innovate | Tech Licensing in March 2019 as a licensing officer, mostly working in the medical and biomedical disciplines. She works closely with faculty to help protect and license their innovations.

Before joining UF Innovate, Hera worked for almost 20 years in industry, most recently in Program Management at ThermoFisher (former BrammerBio) and Lonza. She also worked at Dyax Corp (now Shire PLC ) and in various roles at start-up companies. She gained her previous experience as a licensing officer in The Netherlands at the University of Maastricht.

Hera received her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from the University of Maastricht (Netherlands) and completed her postdoctoral training at St. Mary’s Hospital/Imperial College, London (UK), and MGH/Harvard Medical School where she also had a faculty instructor position.

Photo of Karla Lochner Karla Lochner Licensing Associate for Rachel Harding
Photo of Leah Manning Leah Manning Administrative Assistant III

Leah is the Agreement Portal Coordinator for UF Innovate | Tech Licensing. If you have questions, are experiencing technical difficulties, or need a troubleshooter, she is the person to call. Leah receives, assigns, and processes agreements for the licensing teams. In addition, Leah works with three licensing teams to help coordinate their conversations with inventors and/or outside parties and to send correspondence on their behalf.

Leah has worked for the State of Florida for 8 years and has worked for UF Innovate | Tech Licensing since November 2017.

Photo of Dawn Meyers Dawn Meyers Operations Manager

Dawn supervises three administrative support assistants who, in turn, support 13 Tech Licensing staff members. She assists Jim O’Connell, who directs Tech Licensing and the umbrella organization, UF Innovate. And in those ways (and many more), Dawn assists all members of the organization.

She schedules and prepares agendas and handouts, coordinates internal meetings as well as meetings with high-level visitors. She coordinates travel, arranges for business meals, prepares reports and presentations, handles the office budget, reconciles expenditures, assists in planning and implementing investor and innovator events, maintains the UF Innovate van, keeps office and break room supplies ordered and available, and otherwise keeps the office running like a well-oiled machine.

Before joining UF Innovate | Tech Licensing in 2003, Dawn worked as a legal secretary for a law office and as a bank accounting clerk.

Dawn studied accounting at East Stroudsberg University and Northampton County Community College in Pennsylvania.

Photo of Jim O’Connell Jim O’Connell Assistant Vice President

Jim serves as the Assistant Vice President for Commercialization, leading UF Innovate, the umbrella organization over Tech Licensing, Sid Martin Biotech and The Hub. Jim is also the director of Tech Licensing. He works with internal and external constituents to provide strategic leadership and direction in building and capitalizing on facilities, expertise and technology at UF.

Before joining UF Innovate, Jim directed the tech transfer office at the University of Miami and served as the director of the Michigan Venture Center at the University of Michigan. Jim came to tech transfer with 20 years of industry experience. He worked in two startups in the medical device industry. He also served in the U.S. Air Force as a helicopter pilot.

Jim earned his M.S. in engineering management from the University of Maryland and his B.S. in aeronautical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic.

Photo of Adrienne Pennell Adrienne Pennell Licensing Associate for John Byatt
Photo of Patricia Reineke Patricia Reineke Financial Analyst/Contracts Administrator

As Financial Analyst/Contracts Administrator Patti provides pertinent metrics for the Tech Licensing office to the UF Board of Trustees, the State University System Board of Governors, to departments and colleges across campus, as well as to AUTM, the professional organization that completes an annual licensing survey of universities before issuing a fiscal year ranking. Patti also monitors the financial progress of the office budget throughout the fiscal year. She works with the UFRF business office on a daily basis to ensure that all financial terms of Agreements remain in compliance.

Patti joined Tech Licensing as a licensing associate in 2003, transitioning to Contracts Administrator in 2009. In that role, she began to manage all license agreements, options and interinstitutional agreements that came through Tech Licensing, which she continues to do as well as her duties as Financial Analyst.

Before joining Tech Licensing in 2003, Patti served several years as a paralegal in a full-service law firm in Jacksonville.

Photo of Veronica Talavera Veronica Talavera Public Relations Specialist II

Veronica is the public relations specialist for UF Innovate. In that role, she handles a number of projects from Tech Licensing, The Hub, Sid Martin Biotech, Ventures, and Pathways, which includes working with student interns, editing and marketing non-confidential summaries of innovations from UF researchers, creating flyers, updating the UF Innovate website, promoting UF and incubator startups on the website and on social media, and so much more. She also reaches out to media contacts across campus and beyond in an effort to build relationships between UF Innovate and them. The goal, of course, is to share the good news about UF Innovate and all those touched by it as widely as possible.

Veronica has gained extensive experience in the production of various marketing and public relations materials, large-scale event planning, marketing campaigns, and research. As program coordinator for the Collaboratory for Women Innovators (now known as the Collaboratory for Inclusive Entrepreneurship), Veronica gained experience working with entrepreneurs and innovators as well as a passion for the entire innovation ecosystem that exists under the UF Innovate umbrella. She is a former Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator for a supermarket chain and a Public Relations Executive for a full-service, global creative boutique that specializes in marketing and communications strategies, among other roles in her field of expertise, in Honduras.

Veronica obtained her bachelor’s degree in communications and advertising from the Central American Technological University (UNITEC) in Honduras, a specialization in public relations and organizational communication at the Journalism and Advertising University (CUPP) in Mexico, and her master’s degree in marketing management in UNITEC.

Photo of Lenny Terry Lenny Terry Assistant Director, Licensing Officer

Lenny works with innovators and technologies from chemistry, materials science, and chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering. He has successfully negotiated over 290 licenses and has helped to start more than 40 companies.

When Lenny joined Tech Licensing in 2007, he had more than 20 years of industrial chemical experience. He has held multiple research positions with Milliken Specialty Chemical and Ciba Vision Corporation. He worked as a Business Development Manager for Clariant Specialty Chemicals for ten years. He is an inventor on 24 U.S. patents related to the contact lens and personal care markets.

Lenny earned his BS in Chemistry from the University of Richmond in 1981 and his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Emory University in 1986.

Incubation Services

Photo of Lauren Asmus Lauren Asmus Client Experience Manager

As UF Innovate | Incubation Services’ first Client Experience Manager, Lauren Asmus is proud to offer premier service to all Hub and Sid Martin Biotech clients and affiliates.

When she isn’t problem-solving or finding ways to surprise and delight her 80+ startup portfolio, Lauren fine-tunes the incubators’ innovative programming and offerings. She also serves as the Innovation NaviGator, helping all entrepreneurs land where they belong by partnering with and promoting state and community support organizations.

Lauren brings 10 years of experience in communications, community organizing, public outreach strategy, and program development. Her diverse portfolio includes work in the nonprofit, corporate, public affairs, and entrepreneurial space. She previously served as the Director of startGNV, a nonprofit dedicated to growing the innovation ecosystem of Greater Gainesville, and as the Communications Director for CareerSource North Central Florida, the region’s local workforce board.

Lauren earned her master’s degree in Communications and Media from Florida State University and an undergraduate degree from the University of West Florida. She is a structure-loving free spirit and uses her weird powers for organizing the world’s dreamers, artists, and innovators.

Lauren’s daily goal: bump our international award-winning reputation to the intergalactic next level of greatness.

Photo of Sara Dagen Sara Dagen Marketing & Communications Manager

Sara handles marketing and communications for all of the entities under UF Innovate. On any given day, she might mine news about our startups or innovators to share on social media, edit website content or find a fix for one more glitch, create flyers or documents for events, plan events, or write articles about the exciting happenings at UF Innovate.

After joining the UF Innovate team in 2014, Sara worked her way up from a technical editor to the communications manager. In these capacities, Sara is forced to use both sides of her brain, interpreting science speak to communicate to a business audience. Previously, she used both sides of her brain teaching Algebra and English to middle and high school students. She also worked at The Gainesville Sun as a writer and editor.

Sara holds a B.S. in journalism and a M.Ed. in educational technology from the University of Florida.

Photo of Lissette Garces Lissette Garces Accountant

Lissette is The Hub’s accounting extraordinaire. She prepares monthly invoices for Hub clients and maintains the sub-ledger accounting system. Lissette processes Pcard transactions, expense reports, accounts payable, and monthly reconciliations reports. She assists the incubator manager with financial reports and monthly auditing as well as provides support for all internal and external Hub events.

Before joining The Hub in 2017, Lissette worked in many industries including a law firm in Miami and some of the best food and beverage establishments in Chicago. She has many years of experience in customer service, sales, marketing/social media, billing, and administration.

Lissette graduated from Florida International University in Miami with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She has completed her Fiscal Management Certificate at UF and is bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish.

Photo of Jennifer Harrell Jennifer Harrell Assistant Director, The Hub

Jennifer manages the day-to-day operations of the business incubator in order to facilitate a supportive and encouraging environment for aspiring entrepreneurs to grow. She works with UF Incubation Services leadership to meet occupancy and revenue goals; implement programs, new initiatives, and special projects; monitor client performance; meet social media metrics; and establish operational goals and objectives that align with the overall strategic plan. She oversees facilities, reception, financial and contractual functions, and event management for The Hub.

Jennifer is an experienced manager with a history of working in both the private and public sectors of sales, hospitality, real estate law, finance, and accounting. She has been with The Hub since 2016 and was part of the team when The Hub was awarded the 2018 International Business Innovation Association (InBIA) Global Mixed-Use Incubator of the Year award.

Jennifer obtained her accounting degree from Fisher School of Accounting at UF and is currently the Treasurer of the Florida Incubation Association. She holds an Incubation Management Certificate from the InBIA as well as both Fiscal and HR certificates from UF, and was a Leadership Gainesville Graduate (Go Green!).

Photo of Tess Hutchins Tess Hutchins Receptionist

Tess works part-time at the reception desk. She greets visitors and assists clients with a variety of questions. Tess also checks out resources to new employees and helps with the on-boarding process. Most important, Tess makes sure coffee levels stay above emergency levels.

Before accepting her receptionist position, Tess interned with the UF Innovate | The Hub administrative team where she completed numerous projects to help improve building operations. She also worked part-time at the University of Florida’s Office of Admissions and tutored at a local Gainesville elementary school.

Tess is a full-time student at UF, where she will earn a bachelor’s of science in accounting as well as her master’s degree in accounting.

Photo of Courtney Janka Courtney Janka Facilities Manager

Courtney oversees the maintenance, housekeeping and general upkeep of the 100,000 square foot technology incubator. She manages the inventory of building assets, space allocation, as well as the accounts payable approver. She also serves as the liaison between the resident clients at The Hub and UF departments such as Information Technology, Facilities Services and Environmental Health and Safety. Courtney interfaces with clients on a daily basis to solve problems, manage space and create growth opportunities. She also handles event management, including room layouts, catering management and scheduling. She manages data input and data management for IncutrackTM, the contact management system for The Hub.

Before joining UF Innovate in 2017, Courtney was the Facilities and Administration Manager at Naylor Association Solutions located in Gainesville. She was responsible for a 60,000 square foot commercial building, served as executive assistant to the CEO, as well as coordinated events. Prior to relocating to Gainesville, Courtney worked for 13 years in the print media industry in a variety of roles including media buying, sales, and production.

Courtney earned her B.S in advertising from the University of Florida.

Photo of Karl R. LaPan Karl R. LaPan Director, Incubation Services

Karl leads both of UF Innovate’s award-winning incubators, Sid Martin Biotech in Alachua and The Hub, a mixed-use incubator, in Gainesville. Under his leadership, UF Innovate | Incubation Services provides a place and a program, coaching and connections to give emerging companies the best chance for ongoing success.

Before joining UF Innovate in late spring of 2021, Karl served as president and CEO of the NIIC, a non-profit entrepreneurial support organization in Fort Wayne, Indiana, since its inception in 2000. Like UF Innovate’s Incubation Services, the NIIC supports entrepreneurs as they plan, launch, and grow successful business ventures so companies can “move ideas into action.”

Under LaPan’s direction, entrepreneurs through the NIIC have launched 499 products, applied for 196 patents (most have been granted), created 2,351 jobs, and attracted more than $100 million in grants and capital. He also established a Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center to serve women business owners more effectively, built a portfolio of inclusive support grants to give underrepresented groups greater access to entrepreneurial services, and launched a Kiva Hub in collaboration with the City of Fort Wayne and two other organizations to crowdfund inclusive and diverse entrepreneurs in Northeast Indiana.

LaPan graduated with a master’s degree in human resources from American University after earning a bachelor’s degree in business management from Franklin Pierce University. He has a number of certifications related to entrepreneurship, mentoring, emotional intelligence, leadership and management, and financial management. He is a licensed real estate broker.

Photo of Allen Morgan Allen Morgan Maintenance Specialist II

Allen provides maintenance services for both The Hub and Sid Martin Biotech. He maintains and repairs our #hubsweethome in order to support our innovation ecosystem. Allen obtains proposals from private vendors and coordinates with UF Facilities Services, PD&C, contractors, and program clients on a wide range of building projects. He prepares offices and labs for new startups, manages bio-hazard waste activities, performs water and autoclave testing, and resolves various building issues.

Before joining Incubation Services at UF, Allen worked at the UF Warrington College of Business. He has also been a business owner, and was the facilities maintenance engineer for Le Triomphe Golf Club, a private golf club that hosts the PGA Tour’s Louisiana Open each year.

Photo of Brittany Mosher Brittany Mosher Administrative Support Assistant

Brittany provides general administrative functions for the Sid Martin Biotech, including handling reception, scheduling meetings, coordinating calendars, preparing correspondence, and providing routine office support.

Before joining the team at Sid Martin, Brittany worked in customer service and multiple medical environments.

Brittany has earned two A.S. degrees from Santa Fe College, one in health information technology and the other in cardiovascular technology.

Photo of Veronica Talavera Veronica Talavera Public Relations Specialist II

Veronica is the public relations specialist for UF Innovate. In that role, she handles a number of projects from Tech Licensing, The Hub, Sid Martin Biotech, Ventures, and Pathways, which includes working with student interns, editing and marketing non-confidential summaries of innovations from UF researchers, creating flyers, updating the UF Innovate website, promoting UF and incubator startups on the website and on social media, and so much more. She also reaches out to media contacts across campus and beyond in an effort to build relationships between UF Innovate and them. The goal, of course, is to share the good news about UF Innovate and all those touched by it as widely as possible.

Veronica has gained extensive experience in the production of various marketing and public relations materials, large-scale event planning, marketing campaigns, and research. As program coordinator for the Collaboratory for Women Innovators (now known as the Collaboratory for Inclusive Entrepreneurship), Veronica gained experience working with entrepreneurs and innovators as well as a passion for the entire innovation ecosystem that exists under the UF Innovate umbrella. She is a former Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator for a supermarket chain and a Public Relations Executive for a full-service, global creative boutique that specializes in marketing and communications strategies, among other roles in her field of expertise, in Honduras.

Veronica obtained her bachelor’s degree in communications and advertising from the Central American Technological University (UNITEC) in Honduras, a specialization in public relations and organizational communication at the Journalism and Advertising University (CUPP) in Mexico, and her master’s degree in marketing management in UNITEC.

Photo of Elliott Welker Elliott Welker Assistant Director, Sid Martin Bio

Elliott works on programs and progress for startup companies and recently launched the Innovate NaviGator pilot program, which includes gathering and posting information for communitywide events for entrepreneurs.

Before joining UF Innovate, Elliott was a business development intern for ReliOx Corporation, a resident startup at Sid Martin Biotech; a legal assistant for Robert S. Griscti, Esq., assisting him in his practice of white-collar criminal law, criminal defense, federal and state litigation, professional licensing and appeals; and volunteered with the North Central Florida Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.

He earned his BA in history with a minor in teaching English as a second language (2013) and MBA focusing on entrepreneurship and marketing (2017) from UF. He was a Bob Graham Center for Public Service Student Fellow and Poe Center for Business Ethics Education and Research MBA Fellow.

Photo of Chris Wiley Chris Wiley Technical Services Manager

Chris is the Sid Martin Biotech technical services manager. He provides facilities management, laboratory equipment supervision and training, and coordination of laboratory management.

He is a Marine Corps Veteran and holds a bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry from UF. He is a trained analytical chemist and also operates as an independent consultant for analytical testing, drug development projects, and regulatory strategy. In the past, he has worked as a contract researcher and a math/chemistry tutor.

Chris has attended several professional continued education short courses on subjects such as scientific instrument qualification/calibration/maintenance, gas chromatography (GC) and liquid chromatography (HPLC and Prep-LC), quality assurance (QA) and internal auditing procedures, mass spectrometry and cell culture.

Outside of his career, he is a proud husband and father as well as an active performer in the UF Classical Guitar Ensemble. He also repairs/modifies/upgrades electric guitars and related musical equipment, and enjoys camping and hiking.

Ventures

Photo of Jackson Streeter Jackson Streeter Director, Ventures

As the director of UF Innovate | Ventures, Dr. Jackson Streeter will lead efforts to fuel consistent growth in the number and quality of UF technology-based startup companies. He will source new venture investments, prepare in-depth financial and data analyses for potential investments, work closely with angel groups and other investment funds, and develop entrepreneurs. Jackson will serve as a liaison between public and private sectors in the application and implementation of an investment program intended to support UF startups.

Before joining UF Innovate, Jackson was the CEO and executive director of the Florida Technology Seed Capital Fund, a seed-stage venture fund investing in companies commercializing technologies developed at Florida universities, colleges or research institutes. Under his direction, the fund created more than 50 companies with private investment matching Florida state funding at a 9:1 ratio. Jackson also served as the CEO of Banyan Biomarkers, a UF startup commercializing the first-ever blood test for traumatic brain injury that received FDA clearance in early 2018. Jackson also founded and served as CEO for PhotoThera, Inc., where he raised more than $120M in private capital and designed and managed five U.S. and international clinical trials for the treatment of stroke. He also co-founded American Veterinary Laser, which was acquired in a private transaction.

Jackson is the inventor of more than 20 patented technologies and the author on multiple scientific publications.

He earned his B.S. degree in biology from the University of Nevada Reno and his M.D. from the University of Nevada School of Medicine. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy, completing a general surgery internship at Naval Regional Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, and then primary flight school at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. During his military service, he was the first naval flight surgeon selected as a Top Gun staff instructor, served on several overseas deployments, and was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal and the Navy Commendation Medal.

Collaboratory for Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Photo of Wanda Eugene Ph.D. Wanda Eugene, Ph.D. Director, Collaboratory
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