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.


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.
Scott Wiley
Chief Operating Officer
Scott’s background spans the agricultural value chain. Most recently, he was CEO of Equinox Tree & Vine, a multi-state, vertically integrated producer and global marketer of fruits and nuts. The company’s customer base included the world’s largest food retailers and food and beverage processors. While in this role, Scott was elected to Sunkist’s board of directors and served on its strategy and finance committee. He was also elected to the board of Fruit Grower’s Supply Company, a leading B2B retailer of crop inputs and farm supplies. Previously, Scott was president of the U.S. direct-to-farm division of DeLaval, the market leading global dairy processing equipment and technology company headquartered in Sweden. Earlier in his career, Scott was a managing director of KPMG’s global financial strategies practice, where he advised blue chip clients in the agriculture and food sectors on M&A transactions exceeding $40 billion. Scott currently chairs the Industry Advisory Board of Colorado State University’s Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. He has a BA in Geography from the California State University at Hayward.
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.
Cecilia Zapata, Ph.D.
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.
Brad Schwartz
Vice President of Sales
Brad is the Vice President of Sales for Front Range Biosciences. Prior to joining Front Range Biosciences, Brad was VP of Sales & Customer Success for Farmobile LLC, the independent farm data company. Farmobile’s advanced technology delivers a collect-share-monetize digital data strategy for farmers. Brad is a twenty eight year veteran of the agriculture business working with manufacturers, distributors, retailers, precision ag and equipment companies to bring crop production product solutions to farmers. Previously, Brad held sales, business development and account management positions with WinField United, United Suppliers, and BASF's Specialty Products Division. In his various roles, Brad led the efforts to build distribution partnerships and dealer networks, along with developing sales and support teams to provide outstanding product knowledge and client relationship support. Brad spent over ten years driving row crop seed for DeKalb, Asgrow, Channel, Nutech and distributor licensed brands through Corn States. Brad is responsible for sales within the hemp, coffee, and high-value crop marketplace at FRB.
Steve Taylor
Vice President of Sales, Operations, & Channel Management
Steve is the Vice President Of Sales, Operations, & Channel Management at Front Range Biosciences. 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 sales, operations, and channel management within the hemp, coffee, and high-value crop marketplace at FRB.
Ray French
Vice President of Business 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.
Reggie Gaudino, Ph.D.
Vice President of Research & Development
Dr. Reggie Gaudino oversees the cannabis genetics and scientific research division for Front Range Biosciences (FRB). Formerly the President at Steep Hill, the acquisition of Reggie and his team has significantly advanced FRB’s breeding program, resulting in additional unique and advantaged cannabis and hemp varieties. Previously, Dr. Gaudino has served as a genetics researcher with 18 years of intellectual property experience in patent writing, management, and prosecution in fields as diverse as software and telecommunications to biotechnology and molecular genetics. Research from Dr. Gaudino has been peer-reviewed and published, leading to important new discoveries in the cannabis industry. As an internationally recognized leader in the field of cannabis genetics, Dr. Gaudino has served as a patent agent at Sequenom, Inc., managed IP-based acquisitions for the Vortice Research Group, worked at four law firms focused on biotechnology, and has served as an advisor to multiple portfolio investment companies. Dr. Gaudino received his B.S. in Molecular Biology and Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from the State University of New York at Buffalo and conducted four years of post-doctoral research at Washington University in St. Louis.

Ops Management

Lee Heyl
Senior Director of Operations
Lee Heyl, Senior 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
Tissue Culture Production Lab Manager
Carolina Sarmiento is the Tissue Culture Production Lab 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.
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.

Research & Development

Chris Zalewski, Ph.D.
Director of Research, Plant Sciences
Dr. Zalewski is the Co-Founder and Director of Research, Plant Sciences at Front Range Biosciences. He brings 15 years of experience in plant biology as a researcher at top agricultural universities and national labs. In addition, he received his Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis.
Keith Allen, Ph.D.
Director of Bioinformatics
Dr. Allen is a computational biologist with twenty years of experience in agricultural biotechnology, including ten years at Syngenta where he was Head of Bioinformatics and a Research Fellow. He received his Ph.D. in Plant Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Thomas Blank, Ph.D.
Director of Data Analytics
Dr. Blank serves as the Director of Data Analytics, Research and Development. His role at Front Range Biosciences includes multivariate modeling, data mining, machine learning, and interpretation of experimental and process systems. Dr. Blank received his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Delaware.
Caleb King
Director of Process Development
Prior to joining FRB, Caleb directed regulatory testing operations, scaled production testing capabilities, and developed numerous analytical chemistry methodologies at Steep Hill. He brings over a decade of experience in paleobotany, water chemistry, veterinary medicine, and cannabis science to investigate the biogeochemistry and metabolomics of high-value crops. Caleb received his master’s in marine sciences from the UNC at Chapel Hill.
Anthony Torres
Research Scientist II
Mr. Torres carries out biochemical and genetic analysis of research and development of cannabis at Front Range Biosciences. He utilizes several techniques for molecular analysis, biochemical characterization, and chemotyping of cannabis breeds such as real time qPCR, whole genome sequencing, RNAseq, and molecular cloning.
Steve Noffsinger, Ph.D.
Field Breeding and Trials Manager
Dr. Noffsinger grew up around horticultural and agronomic crops in Kansas and has a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding & Genetics from Auburn. His recent experience includes breeding for processing quality for Del Monte and Libby's. In addition, he brings 20+ years of experience to FRB in breeding, phenotyping, variety trials, disease/pest screening, and seed purity and production.


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 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.
Sierra McDonald
Clean Stock Manager, Colorado
Sierra is currently in charge of managing all greenhouse plants from our Clean Stock® Program and the crews that maintain them. She regulates all nursery stock plants to ensure they are clean and free of pests or viruses. Sierra has a degree in Horticulture from the University of Georgia with a certificate in Organic Agriculture.
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
Kymron De Cesare, Ph.D.
Chief Research Officer, Steep Hill Labs
UC Davis, Chemistry, Ph.D.
Daniela Vergara, Ph.D.
Director of Genomic Services, Steep Hill Labs
Indiana University Bloomington, Evolutionary Biology, Ph.D.
Robert Marc Givens, Ph.D.
Technical Writer, Front Range Biosciences
State University of NY at Buffalo, Chromatin Topological Dynamics, Ph.D.

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