Our Team

Abid Ansari

Vice President, Finance

Prior to joining Precision, Abid spent 5 years at GlaxoSmithKline in Deal Finance and Portfolio Management roles. Before that, he spent 5 years at MedImmune in Commercial and Capital Finance roles and has 15 years of finance/accounting and investment management experience. Today, he oversees all budgeting, accounting, tax, and auditing functions at Precision. He also oversees and manages financing processes with institutional investors. In his free time, Abid enjoys the spending time at the gym, Sunday basketball, and being outdoors with his wife, daughter, and two sons. He earned his BS in Chemical Engineering and MBA both from Purdue University. Abid is also a Certified Public Accountant.

Alec Hayes

Vice President, Technology and Products

Dr. Alec Hayes is the Vice President of Technology and Products at Elo. Alec earned his PhD in Plant Molecular Genetics from Virginia Tech and brings 20 years of industry experience in translational agriculture to this position. Prior to joining Elo, Alec served as a Technical Director at The Coca-Cola Company where his focus was on plant and agricultural innovation. In this position, he sought to advance consumer-relevant ingredients for beverages and to address agricultural supply chain challenges. Alec has also held technical leadership roles at PepsiCo and Altria. Outside of the office, Alec’s favorite pastime is spending hours in the kitchen exploring new ingredients and recipes to try on his wife and two kids.

Angels de Luis Balaguer

Scientist II

Dr. Angels De Luis Balaguer is a Data Scientist on the Knowledge Management team at Elo. She received her PhD in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics from North Carolina State University (NCSU), developing machine learning algorithms and modeling systems in the field of plant systems biology. She then completed a postdoc in the Plant and Microbial Biology department at NCSU where she continued her training in computational biology and bioinformatics. At Elo, Angels is in charge of developing knowledge management and data analysis tools. When she is not sitting by her computer at Elo, Angels enjoys cooking, hosting dinners for friends and traveling.

Anna Matthiadis

Scientist I

Dr. Anna Matthiadis is a Scientist on the Technology Development team at Elo. A Raleigh native, Anna received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her PhD in Plant Biology from North Carolina State University. Following a postdoc at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, she is happy to return home and complete the triangle in Durham. Anna enjoys cooking, eating and exploring.

Blake Griffin

Research Associate I

Blake Griffin is a Research Associate on the Technology Development team at Elo. Blake received his Bachelor of Science degree from East Tennessee State University in Behavioral Neuroscience. He has worked in several different types of academic and industry laboratories including Neurocardiology and In-Vitro models. Blake spent a large portion of his career at Intrexon corporation in their vector construction and molecular biology core. While not wrangling rogue DNA, he appreciates going to the mountains, exploring the RTP area for new beers and spending time with his wife and dog.

Brenton Poirier

Scientist I

Dr. Brenton Poirier is a Metabolic Engineering Scientist on the Translational Agriculture team at Elo. Brenton received his PhD in Molecular Plant Sciences from Washington State University, studying the regulation of terpene biosynthesis. He then completed a postdoc with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, defining relationships between metabolism and physiological disorders in tree fruit. While there, Brenton studied the impact of storage practices on stress-associated metabolism. In addition, he identified molecular markers of postharvest disorders with the goals of improving supply chain management and minimizing food waste. When he’s not fixated on plant metabolism, Brenton enjoys kayaking and mountain biking on the local trails.

Candace Knotts

Research Associate

Candace Knotts is a Research Associate on the Controlled Environment Agriculture team at Elo. Candace grew up working in her family’s garden in Chatham county, North Carolina and ultimately graduated from North Carolina State University with her Bachelor’s degree in Horticulture and Plant Biology. She has made a career out of growing plants in every inside environment from growth chambers to greenhouses and every outside environment from field trials to botanic gardens. Since starting at Elo, Candace has been actively involved in building Elo’s controlled environment systems from the ground up. When she is not at Elo relishing in the vast variety of plants she gets to work with, Candace enjoys reading, biking and giving belly rubs to the sweetest Labrador that ever existed.

Daniel Stauffer

Senior Scientist

Dr. Daniel Stauffer is a Senior Scientist on the Technology Development team at Elo specializing in payload optimization and gene delivery. Daniel received his PhD in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics from the University of Notre Dame, studying transcriptional regulation and chromatin remodeling. He then completed a postdoc at the Vollum Institute studying epigenetic gene silencing and cell cycle checkpoints. Daniel went on to serve as Director of DNA and RNA MOD Design at the Intrexon Corporation where he was responsible for their modular vector architecture, vector design and gene delivery technologies. Dan continues that work at Elo facilitating gene expression and gene delivery in plant systems. When not sitting in front of a computer at Elo, Dan enjoys the Outer Banks and Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina as an amateur photographer.

Derek Jantz

Co-Founder, Precision BioSciences

Dr. Derek Jantz co-founded Precision BioSciences in 2006 after co-inventing a novel method for modifying the DNA-recognition properties of homing endonucleases. Since that time, he has served as VP of Scientific Development, Chief Scientific Officer, and Chairman of the Board of Directors at Precision. Derek is a 15-year veteran of the genome editing industry. As a protein engineer, he was an early developer of zinc finger technology and has spent most of his research career designing proteins for genome editing applications. He has a B.A. in biology from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Ph.D. in Biophysics from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Derek's passions include writing holiday themed poetry and finding ways to slip sci-fi references into corporate presentations.

Emily Nelson

Research Associate I

Emily Nelson is a Research Associate on the Technology Development team at Elo focusing on Lab Operations. Emily earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from North Carolina State University. While there, she worked in a couple of different plant molecular biology labs as a research assistant and discovered a love for plant systems as well as lab operations. She also studied Biomanufacturing at North Carolina State University in which she enjoyed learning about the Biotech industry. It is these experiences that led her to seek a position at Elo, where she can enjoy the best of both worlds. Outside of work, Emily often spends her time with family and friends.

Fayaz Khazi

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Fayaz Khazi is the Chief Executive Officer of Elo Life Systems. After receiving his doctoral degree studying plant DNA repair and recombination from Auburn University, Fayaz trained as a HHMI post-doctoral fellow at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in gene therapy. Fayaz joined Intrexon Corporation (NYSE:XON), a synthetic biology company, in 2007, where he held several executive leadership positions with responsibilities spanning human health, animal therapeutics and translational agriculture. In 2014, Fayaz joined KeyGene USA, a plant genomics and molecular breeding company, as its CEO where he established the company's R&D footprint and critical business relationships in the Americas. At Elo, Fayaz continues to pursue new possibilities at the interface of human health and agricultural innovation.

Hayde Eng

Research Associate I

Hayde Eng is a Research Associate on the Technology Development team at Elo. Hayde earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Oceanography with a concentration in Marine Chemistry from the University of Baja California. She started her biotechnology career at North Carolina State University in 2011, where she worked in several different laboratories on variable projects all involving plant genetic engineering and tissue culture. Hayde loves to learn new things, which is why she took advanced classes in Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing while working at North Carolina State University. She loves spending time with her daughters and friends while sharing a good meal and laughs. When she wants a non-science boost of adrenaline, Hayde likes to race her car at the track.

Hye-ran Lee

Scientist II

Dr. Hye-ran Lee is a Scientist on the Technology Development team at Elo. Hye-ran garnered her PhD in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2008. After moving to the Research Triangle Park for her post-doctoral training, the RTP area became her second hometown. Hye-ran spent four years working at the Duke Institute for Genome Science and Policy as well as the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In addition, she spent 6 years at Chromatin, Inc. and Dow AgroSciences. Hye-ran joined Elo in June of 2018 and is focused on developing gene editing technologies for Elo’s Genome Optimization Platform. When not working in the lab, Hye-ran enjoys spending time at home with her family and exploring new recipes in her kitchen.

Jack Wilkinson

Senior Scientist

Dr. Jack Wilkinson is a Senior Scientist on the Technology Development team at Elo. Jack brings extensive experience in plant biotechnology from his prior appointments as a Scientist and Group Leader at Calgene, Maxygen and Agarigen. Jack received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California-Davis and his PhD in Biology from the University of California-San Diego. During his career, Jack has used his extensive knowledge in plant molecular biology to engineer interesting and valuable commercial products. When he is not glued to his lab bench, Jack enjoys fishing, woodworking, gardening and hypnotically feeding treats to his clever golden retriever.

Jeff Smith

Co-Founder, Precision BioSciences

Dr. Jeff Smith who co-founded Precision BioSciences in 2006 is one of the true pioneers in the genome editing industry and made some of the key observations that led to the first successful engineered editing nucleases. Dr. Smith received his graduate degree from Johns Hopkins while developing and characterizing custom nucleases for genome engineering. Continuing his work in protein engineering at Duke University, Dr. Smith helped create the foundation for the ARCUS platform. Jeff's only known hobbies outside of the lab involve smoking pork and celebrating the Kentucky Derby, preferably at the same time. He is an inventor on more than twenty-five foundational, issued patents involving the production and use of genome editing tools.

Jing Zhou

Scientist II

Dr. Jing Zhou is a Scientist on the Technology Development team at Elo focusing on developing novel gene delivery and genome modification approaches in crop plants. Jing received her Master of Science degree from the National University of Singapore and her PhD in Plant Cell Biology from Cornell University specializing in plant development. When not at work, Jing likes to bake the world’s best cakes with some help from her two beautiful daughters.

Kevin Potter

Scientist I

Dr. Kevin Potter is a Plant Metabolism Scientist on the Translational Agriculture team at Elo. Kevin started his research career at DuPont Pioneer as a Research Associate in the High-Throughput Maize Transformation group. He then pursued his PhD at Iowa State University, where he studied the biosynthesis of plant natural products. As a National Science Foundation Plant Genome Research Program Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Kevin’s research was focused on plant molecular genetics and genomics. In his free time, Kevin enjoys playing with his three little boys, staying active and playing guitar. He is also an avid Kansas City Chiefs fan - GO CHIEFS!!!

Marina Kalyaeva

Scientist II

Dr. Marina Kalyaeva is a Plant Transformation Scientist on the Translational Agriculture team at Elo. She received her PhD in Plant Physiology and Plant Biotechnology in 2002 in Russia. After she moved to the United States, she continued her professional carrier in Plant Tissue Culture and Transformation in numerous academic and industry settings including Purdue University, Simplot Company, the Donald Danforth Plant Center, ArborGen and Plastomics. Marina likes gardening, cooking and playing the piano.

Mario Pennisi

Resident Director, Elo Australia

Mario Pennisi AM is the Resident Director and Country Head of Elo Life Systems Australia Pty Ltd, and is responsible for the initiatives and strategic activities of the Australian subsidiary. He is an experienced executive with more than 35 years in the life sciences sector including as a National Business Development Manager for Australia’s largest provider of private healthcare services, and more recently as the Chief Executive Officer of a peak industry body advocating the key role that life sciences innovation plays in economic and social development. As well as serving as one of the Australian Delegates at successive B20 meetings since 2014, Mario also serves as a board member and strategic advisor for a number of entities.

Matt DiLeo

Director, Scientific Operations

Dr. Matt DiLeo is the Director of Scientific Operations at Elo. He received his PhD in Plant Pathology from the University of California-Davis and completed a postdoc at Cornell University, where he studied the impact of silencing regulatory genes on the nutritional composition of the tomato fruit metabolome. Since, he's developed agricultural omics discovery and testing platforms at KeyGene and Novozymes as part of their BioAg partnership with Monsanto. When he's not working on creating better crops, Matt spends his time chasing around his three children, lifting heavy things at the gym and trying to get the bananas in his garden to produce fruit.

Matt Kane

Co-Founder, Precision BioSciences

Matthew Kane is the co-founder and CEO of Precision BioSciences. Matthew has led the company since its inception in 2006 and serves on Precision's Board. He has nearly fifteen years of experience in the life sciences industry and was formerly with Suros Surgical Systems, later acquired by Hologic. When Matthew isn't working, you can find him enjoying time with his wife and daughters, hiking with his dogs, or stuck under a squat bar. He received his B.S. and M.S. from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and an MBA from Duke University.

Qian Wu

Scientist II

Dr. Qian Wu is a Plant Transformation Scientist on the Translational Agriculture team at Elo. She is responsible for plant tissue culture and transformation of different species. Qian earned her PhD from and completed her postdoc training at North Carolina State University. Outside of work, Qian likes cooking, reading and making crafts.

Sergei Krasnyanski

Senior Scientist

Dr. Sergei Krasnyanski is a Senior Scientist on the Translational Agriculture team at Elo focusing on plant transformation and regeneration. Sergei received his PhD in Plant Physiology and Plant Tissue Culture from Jozsef Attila University in Hungary. Before that, he graduated with a Master of Science degree in Genetics from Kubanski State University in Russia. After he moved to the United States, Sergei completed his postdoctoral training at Michigan State University and later at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He continued his professional carrier in Plant Tissue Culture and Transformation at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and at Purdue University. In 2006, Sergei joined North Carolina State University as the director of the Plant Transformation Lab where he was responsible for scientific and functional operations. Sergei likes playing competitive tennis and going to the gym. He also enjoys photography, mostly of the plant and insect world.

Sharon Inch

Manager, Controlled Environmental Agriculture

Dr. Sharon Inch is the Manager of Controlled Environment Agriculture at Elo. Sharon received her PhD in Botany specializing in Plant Pathology from the University of Manitoba. Following her graduate and postgraduate studies, she was a Research Plant Pathologist at the USDA, where she worked in the scion breeding program to develop resistant citrus varieties to HLB. Sharon also completed a post-doc at the University of Florida, where she investigated host-pathogen interactions of Avocado and the Laurel wilt pathogen. Prior to joining the team at Elo, she was a Scientist and Manager at Novozymes, working on developing novel biocontrol products against several economically important plant diseases. Sharon is an avid golfer and fitness enthusiast and enjoys yoga, gardening and photography.

Sinu Bhandaru

Director, Operations and IT

Prior to joining Precision, Sinu was the Business Technology Site Head for Pfizer’s Sterile Injectable Facility in North Carolina. He also spent five years at Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics as the Director of IT Operations, overseeing all infrastructure and client services for the United States. Sinu has a Masters in Environmental Sciences from Tulane University and nearly 18 years of experience in the information technology industry focused on program and project management, business and continuous improvement programs, and M&A transition strategy. In his free time, Sinu enjoys family time with his wife, two daughters, son, and two dogs.

Taylor Frazier-Douglas

Scientist I

Dr. Taylor Frazier-Douglas is a Scientist on the Technology Development team at Elo. She earned her Master of Science degree from East Carolina in Molecular Biology and her PhD in Horticulture from Virginia Tech. After graduate school, Taylor completed a postdoc at the University of Tennessee specializing in the areas of plant synthetic biology and chloroplast biotechnology. When not in the lab, Taylor enjoys spending time with her family, going to CrossFit, napping and cheering on the Virginia Tech Hokies.

Tengfang Huang

Director, Translational Agriculture

Dr. Tengfang Huang is the Director of Translational Agriculture at Elo, where he is responsible for scientific strategy and partnership programs. Tengfang graduated from the School of Life Sciences at Fudan University in Shanghai, China and later earned his PhD in Plant Biology from Cornell University. His post-doctoral training at the Boyce Thompson Institute focused on the genetics and molecular regulations of plant metabolism associated with plant nutritional values and stress tolerance. Prior to joining Elo, Tengfang served as a research scientist and project leader at KeyGene USA. While at Elo, Tengfang has enjoyed travelling around the world to visit the field and processing plants owned by Elo’s partners. This has helped Tengfang observe up close where the challenges are in the food supply chain and allowed him to strategize solutions based on Elo’s end-to-end capabilities.

Tomas Hasing

Scientist I

Dr. Tomas Hasing is a Data Scientist on the Knowledge Management team at Elo specializing in the fields of genomics and bioinformatics. Tomas received his Master of Science degree in Applied Economics and Statistics from Clemson University and his PhD from the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech. Between degrees, Tomas spent five years working in the area of plant breeding as a Senior Biological Scientist at the University of Florida. In his free time, Tomas enjoys the outdoors and hiking with his wife and two sons.