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Meet the Team

A Background in Science Brings Forward Thinking

We bring over 100 years of experience with a blend of backgrounds in horticulture, agriculture, science, and business. Our team ranges from family-farm owners to long-time hemp and crop growers, to breeders and large-scale producers, to tissue-culture experts coming from companies such as Driscoll’s and Home Depot. Our ultimate goal has not only been to create a team that meets the needs of our growers, but who has been in their shoes and can provide the best insights and practices for growing FRB seed, clones and young plants.

Management

Jonathan Vaught Ph.D
Chief Executive Officer
With 15 years of experience developing and commercializing technologies for human diagnostics, food safety, and agriculture. Dr. Vaught brings a diverse background with a strong scientific and practical business acumen. As CEO and Co-Founder of Front Range Biosciences, Dr. Vaught strives to bring the best of modern agriculture to high-value crops to improve reliability, efficiency, and safety for farmers and consumers. Prior to founding FRB, Dr. Vaught served as the Director of Assay Development for Velocity Sciences, and Senior Scientist for Beacon Biotechnology and SomaLogic. He is an inventor on two patents and an author on 7 publications in peer reviewed journals. He received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr. Vaught also operates a small farm at his residence in CO and is founder of Mountain Flower Dairy, a 501c3 non-profit in Boulder CO, focused on providing educational opportunities for the local community to learn about animal husbandry and where their food comes from.
Nick Hofmeister
Chief Strategic Officer
Nick Hofmeister is the Co-Founder and CFO of Front Range Biosciences®. Previously, he was the VP of Strategy for Divergent Technologies, which uses 3D metal printing to create light weight, environmentally friendly, flexible complex structures like car chassis. Mr. Hofmeister was a Founder and Director of Operations at Triton Algae Innovations, a biotechnology licensing company, and the Chief of Staff for Sapphire Energy. Prior to Sapphire, Mr. Hofmeister was a management consultant at Bain & Company focused on private equity and a program manager at Microsoft. Mr. Hofmeister has founded 5 technology startups and raised more than $270 million from public and private sources. He has a BS from Northwestern University and an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Steve Taylor
VP of Sales and Business Development
Steve is the VP of Sales and Business Development. He began his career in the semiconductor, computer, and telecommunications spaces, spearheading sales and relationship management for companies like Pairgain Technologies and Adtran. During this time, he ran sales and business development for successful divisions, identified innovative business models, and lead negotiations for sales contracts and licensing. Most recently, he worked with companies in horticulture like Emerald Metrics, SGS, Weball, and Apex Oils. With more than 35 years of experience across sales, business development, marketing, contract creation, and intellectual property, Steve is responsible for all such activities within the hemp, coffee, and high-value crop marketplace at FRB.
Cecilia Zapata
Vice President of Nursery
Dr. Cecilia Zapata is the Vice President of Nursery for Front Range Biosciences®. Previously, she was the laboratory manager at Ball Horticultural, a world leader in plant development and distribution. At Driscoll's, the world’s leading berry company, she lead the tissue culture laboratory and designed and implemented clean stock programs in China and Mexico. Prior to Driscoll’s, Dr. Zapata worked for Syngenta Flowers, Yoder Brother’s, Gallo Winery, and the University of Florida at The Citrus Research and Education Center. She brings over 30 years of experience in tissue culture, plant transformation, and plant production, creating and implementing programs that align tissue culture and clean stock programs to ensure only the highest quality material is produced. Dr. Zapata received her Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from Texas A&M University and her Agronomist Engineer degree from University of Viçosa in Brazil.

Ops Management

Ray French
Director of Product Development
Ray French has an extensive background and leadership experience in large scale agriculture and horticulture. He grew up working in the family farm equipment business and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Ornamental Horticulture from Auburn University specializing in nursery crop production. He has been a propagator and a grower as well as managed operations, sales, and product development for some of the largest and most successful operations in the world. For the last 12 years he has been managing product development under contract for The Home Depot in the US and Canada. This resulted in global travel to coordinate products with breeders, growers, and the retailer to bring over one billion dollars in retail sales to the market annually.
Lee Heyl
Director of Operations
Lee Heyl, Director of Operations, brings 40 years of agriculture experience to FRB after working with the largest nurseries in the country including Costa Farms and Hines. He was responsible for producing 200 million plant units at a time at Costa, and has overseen 250 acres of nursery production and 750,000 square feet of indoor facilities. As Director of Operations, Lee manages FRB’s Colorado and Wisconsin operations, oversees all aspects of growing and production, and ensures safety and quality standards are met.
Carolina Sarmiento
Lab Manager
Carolina Sarmiento is the Tissue Culture Production Manager at Front Range Biosciences. Previously, she was the Research and Development Director at Agri-Starts Inc., a large-scale commercial tissue culture nursery in Apopka, FL. She led the edible production laboratory, managed the research and development team, and established new protocols for a clean stock program to ensure elite plant production. She has nearly a decade of experience in management, optimizing media protocols, and improving efficiency and quality of plant production from lab to greenhouse. Prior to Agri-Starts, she participated in a professional program at Living with the Land in Disney World’s Epcot Center, where she administered hydroponic greenhouses and ensured optimal working capabilities of irrigation systems and engineering processes. She received her BS in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from the University of Florida.
Lisandra Garate
Lab Manager
Lisandra manages our lab in California. In her previous role as Lead Supervisor at Driscoll’s, a 4th generation family-owned business that controls roughly a third of the US berry market, Lisandra’s team produced in-vitro plant material and implemented new procedures for inventory management to increase traceability. As Lab Manager at FRB Lisandra designed and constructed our lab in Salinas. Her expertise in the training and personnel development expedites our production processes and tissue culture techniques.

Lisandra has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from San Francisco State University and a Masters in Business Administration from University of La Verne in California.

Michael Westendorp
Senior Propagation Manager
Michael Westendorp joins FRB after 30 years serving in leading propagator and supervisory roles at companies such as Driscoll’s, Aris Horticultural Services, Creek Hill Nurseries, and Yoder Brothers. He has propagated over 400 cultivars of vegetative perennials and grasses, culminating in a 95% overall success rate. Additionally, Mike has effectively monitored disease and insects in five greenhouses spanning 40 acres. In his new role at FRB, he oversees California greenhouse operations.

Growers

Mark Golliday
Grower, Colorado
Mark grew up on a dairy farm in Maryland. With a passion for mixing tech and farming, he is highly skilled in building and maintaining Hydro/Aquaponics systems, as well as traditional growing systems.
Tim Johnson
Production Manager, Colorado
Tim is a Registered Horticultural Therapist with the American Horticultural Therapy Association. He has 17 years experience in a wholesale greenhouse environment with emphasis on growing, planning, seed sowing, transplanting, and quality control.
Stephen Lipton
Grower Supervisor, Colorado
Over a decade of growing experience with both indoor and outdoor productions. His the keen ability to lead teams brings fluent success to FRB’s cultivation process and genetic development.
Michelle Hamm
Grower, Wisconsin
Michelle has spent 22 years producing florist quality product for a local garden center. Her distinguished knowledge in growing plants, with an eye for detail, provides consistent, vigorous outputs that meet customer demand.
Sarah Ullrich (Maggie)
Assistant Grower, Colorado
Maggie has a degree from Purdue University, majoring in Plant Genetics, Breeding & Biotechnology. Her research experience as a Biological Science technician working with the USDA - Agricultural Research Service brings scientific insight and structure to the propagation of FRB plant productions.
Jeff Harpt
Production Manager, Wisconsin
Jeff has been involved in horticulture since 1992. As the General Manager at Fox Valley Greenhouse, Green Bay, WI, for 14 years, Jeff scaled the business 250%. He brings his experience in getting high quality product to market and pulling people together to ensure production numbers are met.
Jeff Yellin
Breeder, Colorado
Has been growing high quality cannabis crops for 15 years, with a decade of knowledge on successful breeding techniques. His skills in breeding, phenotyping, and chemotyping help FRB meet the demand for quantitative data on feminized seed products.

Scientific Advisory Board

Cristobal Uauy, Ph.D.
Project Leader, John Innes Center.
UC Davis, Ph.D.
Dario Cantu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, UC Davis
UC Davis, Ph.D.
Jason Argyris, Ph.D.
Centre for Research in Ag Genomics
UC Davis, Ph.D.
Todd Jones, Ph.D.
Dir of Ag Research, Dupont Pioneer
UC Davis, Ph.D. Kellogg MBA
Linda Judge
IP and Commercial Counsel
Santa Clara University School of Law, JD, Intellectual Property Law
U.C. Berkley, M.S. Environmental Chemistry
Chris Zalewski, Ph.D
Co-Founder of Front Range Biosciences
Lead Scientist and Seed Health Manager,
Ag-Biotech Seed Health Testing Laboratories, Inc.
UC Davis, Ph.D.
Indiana University MPA

Board of Advisors

Ephraim Lindenbaum
Managing Director, Advance Ventures
Multi-time founder, Board member.
Frank Traylor
Terra Healthcare Labs Founder
Former CEO, VisionTEK.
Lara Sasken
Director of Communications, Facebook
Pepperdine, MBA.
Micah Tapman
Partner, CanopyBoulder
Multiple startup founder.
Andrew Septimus
Private Equity Investor
Michael Dovbish
Exec Director, Nutrition Captial Network
Boston University, MBA.
Mark Waxman
Chief Marketing Officer, CBIZ
San Jose State University, MA