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, Accelerate

In May 2021, Karl R. LaPan was appointed director of UF Innovate | Accelerate, where he oversees two world-class business incubation facilities unified under one entrepreneurial support organization. Operating one of the top Super Hubs in the United States, he leads the management and operation of a nine-time award-winning entrepreneurial support organization comprising the 97,000-sf mixed-use Hub facility and the 32,500-sf rural Sid Martin facility. In 2021, UF Innovate | Accelerate was designated one of 20 InBIA Soft Landings programs.

Printable version of Karl’s bio sketch is available here.

From 2000 to 2021, he was the first President and CEO of the NIIP/NIIC in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he led the globally award-winning entrepreneurial support organization and launched tech-based economic and entrepreneurial programs to serve the under-represented segments in Northeast Indiana. In 2020, the NIIC won one of the two top industry awards – the InBIA Dinah Adkins Award and the Entrepreneur Center of the Year: Mixed Use Award. Under LaPan’s direction, entrepreneurs through the NIIC launched 499 products, applied for 196 patents (most were granted), created over 2,351 jobs at an average wage rate of $55,994 per FTE, and secured over $100.4 million in grants and investments.

From 1994 to 2000, he served as the President and CEO of an advanced biometric identification company, NBS Imaging Systems headquartered in Fort Wayne, IN. However, his career started in 1986 at General Electric where he worked in six different strategic business units of GE, including Aircraft Engines, Power Systems, Marine Services, Appliances, Corporate Headquarters, and Financial Services. He is also a program graduate of GE’s prestigious Financial Management Program (FMP).

Karl is an active advisory board member of the College of Business (COBAB) at his alma mater Franklin Pierce University, the current President of the Florida Business Incubation Association (FBIA), and an adjunct instructor in Entrepreneurship at Franklin Pierce University. He also serves on the board of BioPoly LLC, an orthobiologics early-stage company. Additionally, he is a community advisory board member for the InBIA Ecosystem Builder Leadership Project (EBLP).

Karl’s professional interest areas are healthcare, innovation/entrepreneurship, and customer experience. Previously, he was an associate faculty member in the MBA program at IPFW, and an Executive-in-Residence/Adjunct Faculty member in the MBA program at Taylor University. Additionally, he served on the Taylor MBA Business Advisory Board, IPFW Doermer School of Business Advisory Council & IPFW ETCS Industrial Advisory Board, Manchester University President’s Leadership Council, and the IU School of Medicine-Ft. Wayne Advisory Board. After 18 years of service, Karl retired from the Board of and Secretary of Physicians Health Plan (PHP), a physician-owned and managed not-for-profit HMO, and, before its sale, a former board member of IAB Financial, a $1B community bank, where he chaired the Bank’s Enterprise Risk Management Committee. Additionally, he served on the board of directors of the Indiana Chamber and was on an advisory board for the Ball State University Entrepreneurship Center. He is the recipient of the IPFW Chancellor’s Award and the InBIA President’s Award of Excellence.

LaPan received his Bachelor of Science, Business Management, Summa Cum Laude from Franklin Pierce University. He obtained his Master’s Degree in Human Resource Development from American University in Washington, DC, and is a member of the Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society. He has completed extensive, executive education programs in non-profit leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation at Stanford University, Harvard University, Babson College, the University of Notre Dame, and the Disney Institute.

Karl is a frequent trainer and speaker in the incubation industry. He is the co-author of InBIA’s publication Best Practices in Action. His latest book was published in 2021, Entrepreneurial Hacks: Practical Insights for Business Builders. Together with these two books, he has published five books in total.

Photo of Jennifer Harrell Jennifer Harrell Assistant Director, The Hub

Jennifer manages the day-to-day operations of UF Innovate | Accelerate at The Hub in order to facilitate a supportive and encouraging environment for aspiring entrepreneurs to grow. She works with UF Accelerate 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 in UF Innovate | Accelerate at Sid Martin Biotech in Alachua.

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 Nicholas J. Coote Nicholas J. Coote Marketing & Communications Specialist

Nicholas supports the marketing and communications efforts for all of UF Innovate. He specializes in the use of social media by writing news briefs, curating posts, and highlighting UF Innovate’s clientele. Outside of social media, he also uses his coordination abilities to be the entrusted project manager for UF Innovate’s Tech Tuesday segment on TV20-WCJB. Nick helps lead social media and video production interns on multiple marketing projects.

Before joining the UF Innovate team in 2022, Nick was the marketing assistant at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. This is where he got his first taste of marketing by helping promote hundreds of events from concerts, to sports. Prior to marketing, Nick worked as an assistant productions manager and as a jack of all trades in client services.

Nick holds a B.A. in international studies with a minor in mass communications from the University of Florida. In his free time, you can find Nick working on his photography portfolio, fitness goals, and enjoying some laughs at the local comedy club.

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 Assistant Director, Communications

Sara handles marketing and communications for all of the entities under UF Innovate. On any given day, she works with the licensing teams to showcase new technologies by University of Florida researchers, mines news about our startups or innovators to share on social media, edits website content or finds a solution for one more glitch, creates flyers or documents for events, plans events, and writes articles about the exciting happenings at UF Innovate.

After joining the UF Innovate team in 2014 as a technical editor, she has led the marketing department and worked with a team of interns who write non-confidential stories about technologies, write prior art searches, work with startups to help create business plans and more, promote the never-ending list of Pathways events, or facilitate material transfer agreements. In this whirlwind of “spinning plates,” as she likes to call it, 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. In her free time, she writes a personal blog at All Things Work Together and podcasts Sara’s Shorts, pocket-sized stories for the soul.

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 Financial Analyst/Contracts Administrator

As Financial Analyst/Contracts Administrator Adrienne 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. Adrienne 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.

In addition to her role as Financial Analyst/Contracts Administrator, Adrienne also manages the database, streamlining processes for the tech licensing office. Prior to this role, she served as a licensing associate for John Byatt and as an administrative assistant.

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.

Photo of Kristen Walberg Kristen Walberg Licensing Associate

Accelerate

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 UF Innovate | Accelerate at The Hub in order to facilitate a supportive and encouraging environment for aspiring entrepreneurs to grow. She works with UF Accelerate 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 Courtney Janka Courtney Janka Facilities Manager

Courtney oversees the maintenance, housekeeping, and general upkeep of the almost 100,000 square-foot technology incubator, UF Innovate | Accelerate at The Hub. She manages the inventory of building assets, space allocation, as well as 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 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, Accelerate

In May 2021, Karl R. LaPan was appointed director of UF Innovate | Accelerate, where he oversees two world-class business incubation facilities unified under one entrepreneurial support organization. Operating one of the top Super Hubs in the United States, he leads the management and operation of a nine-time award-winning entrepreneurial support organization comprising the 97,000-sf mixed-use Hub facility and the 32,500-sf rural Sid Martin facility. In 2021, UF Innovate | Accelerate was designated one of 20 InBIA Soft Landings programs.

Printable version of Karl’s bio sketch is available here.

From 2000 to 2021, he was the first President and CEO of the NIIP/NIIC in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he led the globally award-winning entrepreneurial support organization and launched tech-based economic and entrepreneurial programs to serve the under-represented segments in Northeast Indiana. In 2020, the NIIC won one of the two top industry awards – the InBIA Dinah Adkins Award and the Entrepreneur Center of the Year: Mixed Use Award. Under LaPan’s direction, entrepreneurs through the NIIC launched 499 products, applied for 196 patents (most were granted), created over 2,351 jobs at an average wage rate of $55,994 per FTE, and secured over $100.4 million in grants and investments.

From 1994 to 2000, he served as the President and CEO of an advanced biometric identification company, NBS Imaging Systems headquartered in Fort Wayne, IN. However, his career started in 1986 at General Electric where he worked in six different strategic business units of GE, including Aircraft Engines, Power Systems, Marine Services, Appliances, Corporate Headquarters, and Financial Services. He is also a program graduate of GE’s prestigious Financial Management Program (FMP).

Karl is an active advisory board member of the College of Business (COBAB) at his alma mater Franklin Pierce University, the current President of the Florida Business Incubation Association (FBIA), and an adjunct instructor in Entrepreneurship at Franklin Pierce University. He also serves on the board of BioPoly LLC, an orthobiologics early-stage company. Additionally, he is a community advisory board member for the InBIA Ecosystem Builder Leadership Project (EBLP).

Karl’s professional interest areas are healthcare, innovation/entrepreneurship, and customer experience. Previously, he was an associate faculty member in the MBA program at IPFW, and an Executive-in-Residence/Adjunct Faculty member in the MBA program at Taylor University. Additionally, he served on the Taylor MBA Business Advisory Board, IPFW Doermer School of Business Advisory Council & IPFW ETCS Industrial Advisory Board, Manchester University President’s Leadership Council, and the IU School of Medicine-Ft. Wayne Advisory Board. After 18 years of service, Karl retired from the Board of and Secretary of Physicians Health Plan (PHP), a physician-owned and managed not-for-profit HMO, and, before its sale, a former board member of IAB Financial, a $1B community bank, where he chaired the Bank’s Enterprise Risk Management Committee. Additionally, he served on the board of directors of the Indiana Chamber and was on an advisory board for the Ball State University Entrepreneurship Center. He is the recipient of the IPFW Chancellor’s Award and the InBIA President’s Award of Excellence.

LaPan received his Bachelor of Science, Business Management, Summa Cum Laude from Franklin Pierce University. He obtained his Master’s Degree in Human Resource Development from American University in Washington, DC, and is a member of the Pi Alpha Alpha Honor Society. He has completed extensive, executive education programs in non-profit leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation at Stanford University, Harvard University, Babson College, the University of Notre Dame, and the Disney Institute.

Karl is a frequent trainer and speaker in the incubation industry. He is the co-author of InBIA’s publication Best Practices in Action. His latest book was published in 2021, Entrepreneurial Hacks: Practical Insights for Business Builders. Together with these two books, he has published five books in total.

Photo of Allen Morgan Allen Morgan Maintenance Specialist II

Allen provides maintenance services for both UF Innovate | Accelerate facilities, The Hub and Sid Martin Biotech. He maintains and repairs each building 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 UF Innovate | Accelerate, 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 UF Innovate | Accelerate at 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 Kat Scott Kat Scott Administrative Assistant

Kat Scott is a full-time Administrative Assistant for UF Innovate | Accelerate at The Hub. Her primary duties include greeting clients (current and prospective), scheduling conference room bookings, and assisting with the particulars of community management within the incubator. She also provides fresh coffee and refreshments for residents to enjoy throughout the day while they are hard at work developing their technologies.

Before accepting her position as Administrative Assistant in 2021, she worked providing customer service and hospitality in the food industry. Kat studies various disciplines within the realm of visual arts and storytelling and can be often seen jotting down notes and sketches of her own.

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

Elliott works on programs and progress for startup companies in UF Innovate | Accelerate at Sid Martin Biotech in Alachua.

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 UF Innovate | Accelerate at 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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