Career Exploration and Planning, Panel 2: Business

Thursday, May 9, 2019 - 4:30pm

Developing a career path after graduate school can be difficult, but there are a plethora of stories for us to gain inspiration from those who have already gone through the process. This is the second of three panels hosted by Dr. Sue Rhee with support from DPB and CIPA for Dr. Rhee's BIO380 class, "Career Exploration and Planning," in which established people doing diverse fields of work with their biology graduate degrees will be available for discussion and questioning regarding career options and expectations. Panelists will introduce themselves, then the floor will be open for questions from the audience, followed by a catered reception. This second panel showcases those who have taken their degrees to the business realm.

James Zhang

Centrillion Technologies

Dr. Zhang received a PhD in Genetics from UC Davis, postdoc training at Carnegie Institution for Science, and business training at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. As a venture capitalist, he worked at Softbank China Venture Capital and Khosla Ventures, and was a founding partner of Formation 8, a Silicon Valley venture capital fund and early backer of several well-known brands such as Oculus VR,, and Oscar. He currently serves as a Partner of the GRC SinoGreen Fund, which invests in breakthrough technologies in both the U.S. and China, and leads corporate strategy, strategic business development, investor relations, and Asia Pacific operations as the Chief Strategy Officer at genomics technology behemoth Centrillion.

James Keddie

Bozicevic, Field & Francis LLP

Dr. Keddie received his PhD in Plant Molecular Biology from the John Innes Institute and post-doc training in several plant biology labs, including the Carnegie Institution for Science. He then began work with intellectual property as a Senior Scientist and IP Manager at Mendel Biotechnology, Inc. Dr. Keddie currently serves as a Senior Patent Agent at Bozicevic, Field & Francis LLP, where his expertise in all aspects of patent prosecution are used to provide biotech-focused clients with patent drafting and prosecution services.

Lee Chae


Dr. Chae earned his PhD in Plant Biology, Computational and Genomic Biology from UC Berkeley and postdoc training at Carnegie Institute for Science where he utilized machine learning computational techniques towards genomic analysis of a large kinase family in Arabidopsis thaliana as well as development of a pipeline identifying biochemical functions and metabolic roles from protein sequence data. He has translated these skills towards industrial applications, currently working as the Co-founder and CTO of Brightseed, a company that identifies plant-derived nutrients for incorporation into consumer diets.

Fred Hempel

Baia Nicchia Farm and Artisan Seeds

Dr. Hempel is a plant scientist, breeder, and farmer with a PhD from UC Berkeley. Though he initially began his postdoctoral career as a biotech geneticist researching lycopene, he decided to merge his passion with his knowledge and switched careers to become the owner of Baia Nicchia Farm, where he breeds certified-organic tomato varieties that are tested for disease resistance, color, and high-quality flavor. Dr. Hempel’s unique tomato breeds are sold under his own label, Artisan Seeds, which works with a network of gardeners and farmers to spearhead tomato breeding projects.

Malavika Kannuswamy

Denali Therapeutics

Kannuswamy attained her MS in biotechnology at Pennsylvania State University. She started as a Research Associate at Achaogen and eventually became Associate Director and Head of Research Operations. She currently serves as Associate Director of Portfolio Planning and Program Management at Denali Therpeutics. Kannuswamy’s passion for building high-performing research teams additionally leads her to be an advisor for the Stanford School of Medicine’s SPARK Translational Research Program and a member for The Penn State Biotechnology Advisory Board.