Meet the team
Atticus Steinmetz, Chief Executive Officer
Atticus Steinmetz began working as an Economic Development Manager at the Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce in 2017 as an intern, and since then has worked his way up to Economic Development Manager. Those years were spent assisting businesses from all over the world, of varying sizes and from countless industries in an effort to bolster the economy of the Greater Gainesville Region. At the Univsersity of Florida, he studied Economics and Chinese. During his time in undergrad, Atticus spent a year studying at the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, China.
Outside of work, Atticus has a deep interest in economics, cooking and fashion.
Vera Monlux, Chief Technical Officer
Vera Monlux has a diverse background in patient-oriented healthcare and academic research, including over two thousand hours of clinical work and a four-year research career in bioinformatics and biotechnology. Her previous research roles include a fellowship at the University of Florida's Center for Neurogenetics and an internship at Johns Hopkins Medical School. In her free time, Vera likes to read, spend time outdoors, and watch science fiction movies.
Connor Watson, Chief Science Officer
Connor Watson began work as a researcher SYBORGS synthetic biology lab in 2017. There he worked to develop dynamic models of changes in blood chemistry in trauma situations. This work aimed to develop AI feedback on treatment options devised in accordance to real time monitoring blood chemistry. It was here that Connor developed an interest in practical biochemistry. At the University of Florida, he studied Computer Science and Chemical Engineering. Connor has long carried interest in international politics, startup culture and art.
Merrie Shaw, Assistant Director, Sid Martin Biotech
Merrie Shaw has extensive experience mentoring and guiding biotech companies at Sid Martin Biotech, a facility that has been ranked the #1 biotech incubator in the world three times by the International Business Innovation Association. As Assistant Director of the UF Sid Martin Biotechnology Institute, she is currently responsible for the management and growth of 18 different companies who have 140+ employees. Merrie excels at customer service, recruitment, facilities management and business counseling; she has 15+ years of experience in business incubation assisting early stage companies.
Dr. Bruce Branchini, Hans and Ella McCollum '21 Vahlteich Professor of Chemistry at Connecticut College
Bruce Branchini's major research interests focus on the biochemistry of bioluminescence - the emission of light by living organisms. He teaches courses in biochemistry and organic chemistry, including spectroscopic methods, both lecture and laboratory.
His bioluminescence research groups have collected specimens in Tennessee, Wisconsin, Texas, the Connecticut College Arboretum and Bologna, Italy. They have developed novel methods for purifying the protein that catalyzes the light-emitting reaction. They have also used synthetic organic techniques to prepare novel substrates for the firefly protein (luciferin) and substrates for a bioluminescent jellyfish that emits blue and green light. Most recently, his lab is using molecular biology methods to produce mutant luciferase proteins with properties that are desirable for such applications as drug screening, mechanistic studies and in vivo imaging.
John Engels MBA, VP, Axogen
John Engels is a founder and investor focused on new technology development and commercialization. John co-founded AxoGen, a leading medical technology company dedicated to peripheral nerve repair. At AxoGen from 2002 to 2017, John served in various leadership positions, including: sourcing, negotiating and managing product development, sales and marketing; licensing partnerships for its flagship products; managing seed, venture and growth capital financing; setting up and running manufacturing operations; and leading its international sales and business