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Merced to Market Speakers

Speaker 1

Keynote Speaker: Bob Tinker

Title: CEO, BedRock Systems & Managing Partner, Metamorph Partners | LinkedIn

Bob is the co-founder and CEO of BedRock Systems and Managing Partner of Metamorph Partners. BedRock
is revolutionizing runtime security for AI, container, and Linux workloads. BedRock recently raised a $25M
Series A led by Mayfield. Metamorph Partners is an operator-led led buyout team focused on B2B SaaS. Bob
recently led the buyout of Fluxx Labs, grant management software for private and public foundations, where
he serves as Executive Chairman.

Bob was founding CEO of MobileIron from 2008 to 2016, from initial idea, to IPO in 2014, and over 12,000
enterprise customers and $150M of revenue. During the five-year period from 2010-2014 MobileIron was
named the fastest growing technology company in the world and ranked #1 in Deloitte’s Fast 500 Index. Prior
to MobileIron, Bob was the VP of Business Development at enterprise wireless pioneer Airespace. Cisco
acquired Airespace in 2005 for $450M.

Inspired by the question, “What do you wish you could tell yourself 15 years ago as a newbie entrepreneur?”,
Bob recently co-authored the book series, Survival to Thrival: The Enterprise Startup Guide, that is #1 on
Google search for “Enterprise Startup Book” and available on Amazon. Bob’s 2nd book -- Change or Be
-- tackles the question “Why is building a startup so hard on the leaders?”  The answer is Un-learning.

Bob has a BS in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia and an MBA from Stanford. He and his
wife live in Menlo Park, where he is a recent empty nester, obsessed with fruit trees, and clumsily trying to
grow his own coffee.

Speaker 1

Broder Schmidt

Title: Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Prose Foods | LinkedIn

Broder is the co-founder and chief scientific officer of Prose Foods, a food tech startup that is rethinking how we grow, craft and experience food. He is a pioneer in studying the form and function of disordered proteins. Previously, Broder was an academic researcher at Stanford University and the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. He holds a PhD in Molecular Biology from the International Max Planck Research School at the University of Goettingen, Germany. Broder is a first generation college graduate.

Speaker 2

Wilson Mak

Title: Chief Technology Officer, Digestiva | LinkedIn

Wilson Mak is an enzymologist and chemist, with over a decade of specialized experience in the realms of enzyme discovery, engineering, and production. His expertise bridges the crucial gap between enzyme science and its functional applications at the bench, connecting them to a commercially viable path that propels products into the marketplace. Wilson's knowledge base spans computational enzyme design and machine learning, extending through wet-lab molecular biology, protein expression, and assay development. This skill set supports a wide array of operations and research & development efforts, essential for transforming bench science into tangible, market-ready products.

Wilson holds a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry from Brigham Young University - Hawaii. Furthering his academic pursuits, he earned a PhD in Chemistry from the University of California Davis, with a specific focus in bio-organic chemistry.

Speaker 3

Ishita Shah

Title: CEO and Co-Founder, Matrubials | LinkedIn

Ishita M. Shah, PhD is the CEO and co-founder of Matrubials, a spin-out from UC Davis, Foods for Health Institute and an infectious diseases scientist by training. As the Associate Director (Microbial Programs) at the Foods for Health Institute (UC Davis), she investigated the role of milk components in human health, specifically in terms of infectious diseases, leading to the founding of Matrubials. Previously, Dr. Shah has worked at Genentech (Senior researcher, Infectious Diseases) and Columbia University (Postdoctoral scientist) receiving several awards (PhD thesis prize UMBC '05, Nat Sternberg outstanding thesis award/ key researcher Genentech/ speaker).

Speaker 4

Emerald Sunset Nash

Title: Founder and CEO, GridSense Technologies Inc. | LinkedIn

Emerald is a fourth-year Computer Science & Engineering Major at the University of California Merced who has participated in the little bang in 2021 who received award along with his teammate Liliana Figueroa. Emerald has a curious mind and always wants to test and improve upon his abilities. He enjoys the thrill of challenge and is curious of what impact he could have on the world. Emerald founded this current startup along with Liliana in hopes to make handling wildfires easier so lives and infrastructures won't be destroyed not only just in California, but eventually in any place where there is a wild fire in the world.

Emerald has a diverse range of experience, including teaching high school and middle school students how to build rockets and use drones as an Academy Instructor at UC Davis Drone Academy. He has demonstrated strong ability to effectively communicate and instruct students in hands-on, technical subjects and have utilized a variety of teaching methods, including hands-on demonstrations and interactive activities, to engage students and facilitate learning. Emerald is currently involved in several projects including SACS-1 Los Rios CubeSat Project as a co-lead for communications in CubeSat team, responsible for interfacing communication module with CubeSat, providing data handling through communication module, and maintaining communication with ground networks.

He was also involved in EVTOL Drone Research Project for Wildfires,as a volunteer, providing programming support, designing PCB Boards and soldering components onto PCB Boards. Emerald has also held leadership roles in non-profit organizations such as the Yolo STEM Education Initiative as the treasurer, responsible for managing and acquiring funds to support the mission objective. Emerald takes lead in presenting their work at various competitions and events, such as UC Davis Engineering Showcase, Little Bang Business Competition, and MESA Idea Accelerator, where he led his team to success by receiving first place in a design competition for developing a human centered design to improve wildfire management for firefighters.

Speaker 5

Larry Adkison

Title: Senior Principal Counsel, UC Legal | LinkedIn

Larry Adkison joined UC Legal's Business Transactions group in July 2014. Prior to the UC, he held the position of Corporate and Securities Shareholder at Greenberg Traurig LLP where he worked for nine years representing and advising strategic and venture capital investors in private equity and debt financings, acquisitions, joint ventures and divestitures. Mr. Adkison also was an Associate at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati providing startup company and corporate and securities support. He received his undergraduate degree from University of California, Santa Barbara and law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

Speaker 6

Nima Katz

Title: Principal Counsel, UC Legal | LinkedIn

Nima joined UC Legal in 2016 and works out of the Oakland office. She assists the campuses on general corporate and equity matters, and assists the Office of the Chief Investment Officer with investment and operational transactions. Prior to joining the UC, Nima worked as a corporate and securities associate at several law firms in New York City, including Mayer Brown LLP, White & Case LLP, Proskauer Rose LLP and Cooley LLP. Prior to her legal career, Nima worked as an accountant for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu in Australia.

Speaker 1

Vadim Vapnyar 

Title: Partner, Carter, DeLuca & Farrell LLP | LinkedIn

Vadim represents domestic and foreign clients in all phases of patent preparation and prosecution, as well as in connection with freedom-to-operate and due diligence studies. He has extensive experience working with university tech transfer offices, large corporations, and startups at multiple stages of growth. His practice is primarily focused on the following technical fields: chemical and materials engineering, robotics, medical devices, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and computer software and hardware. In addition to his patent practice, Vadim also obtains trademark protection for his clients and counsels them on a variety of intellectual property-related matters, such as licensing and agreements.

Speaker 2

Jay Sharping

Title: Professor, Physics, UC Merced | LinkedIn

Prof. Jay E. Sharping is the Chief Executive Officer at Spherical Cow, LLC. Prof. Sharping joined the physics faculty at UC Merced in 2006 and has run a vibrant research lab focusing on laser physics, quantum optics, and superconducting microwave cavity physics. He has published more than 40 scientific papers, teaches an array of undergraduate and graduate physics courses, and dedicates his university service activities to furthering the undergraduate educational mission of UC Merced. Prior to joining UC Merced, Prof. Sharping was a postdoctoral scientist at Cornell University and received his PhD in 2003 from Northwestern University. He received his BS from the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater (1992) and a MS from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (1994). Prof. Sharping worked as a consultant (1994-1997) with Accenture. Prof. Sharping was driven to come to UC Merced, which had just opened in 2005, because of opportunities to stimulate economic growth beyond the region’s globally recognized food and agricultural industries. That same economic growth opportunity had driven Prof. Sharping to form Spherical Cow, LLC.

Speaker 3

Shijia Pan

Title: Assistant Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, UC Merced | LinkedIn

Dr. Shijia Pan is an Assistant Professor at the University of California Merced. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Science and Technology of China and her Ph.D. degree from Carnegie Mellon University. Her research interests include cyber-physical sensing systems (CPS), Internet of Things (IoT), multimodal learning for CPS/IoT, and ubiquitous computing. She worked in multiple disciplines and published in both top-tier Computer Science ACM/IEEE conferences and high-impact Civil Engineering journals. She received Hellman Fellows Awards, Rising Stars in EECS, Google Anita Borg Scholarship, and Best Paper/Poster/Demo Awards from multiple ACM/IEEE conferences.

Speaker 4

Darren Cooke

Title: Executive Director, UC Berkeley Life Sciences Entrepreneurship Center and Faculty, Berkeley Haas School of Business | LinkedIn

Darren Cooke is the executive director of the Berkeley Life Sciences Entrepreneurship Center, a professional faculty member at the Haas School of Business, and chair of the Bio Track at the Berkeley SkyDeck startup accelerator. He teaches entrepreneurship at Haas and for the Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program for the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. He is an investor and former chair of Medical Device and Digital Health at Life Science Angels. As an attorney, he led the IP legal team for the life science tools group of Bio-Rad Laboratories, and was a life sciences patent litigator at Covington & Burling. Before law school, he was a mechanical engineer developing cochlear implants at UCSF.

Speaker 5

Harold Schmitz

Title: Founding Partner, The March Group | LinkedIn

Dr. Harold Schmitz is a seasoned venture builder with unique global experience at the interface between research universities and the food, health, and climate technology sectors.

Prior to forming TMG, Dr. Schmitz gained deep domain expertise with Mars, Inc., including serving as the company’s first Chief Science Officer and creating the Mars Advanced Research Institute. Beginning in 1995, he created and led a world class “Food as Medicine” research team that discovered new health benefits associated with flavonoids and defined a new growth paradigm for the dark chocolate industry as well as other plant-based food categories. His passion for uncommon collaborations inspired relationships with the National Academy of Sciences, the Lindau Nobel Laureate Foundation and the University of California – including co founding the Innovation Institute for Food and Health – UC Davis as a first of its kind organization to enable the New Economy for global health and environmental sustainability.

Dr. Schmitz’s depth of experiences enable visibility to, and network support for, world-class inventors, innovators, and companies defining the role of food and climate tech in this New Economy. He is a Senior Scholar at UC Davis and a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and an advisor to the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s Center for Biosustainability and BioInnovation Institute, Givaudan’s MISTA, and the AI Institute for Next-Generation Food Systems co-funded by the US Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation. He is also serving on the Board of Directors of Engage3 and Chairs the Meati Scientific Advisory Board.

Dr. Schmitz holds a Ph.D. in Food Science from North Carolina State University, MS in Food Science from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and a BA in Food Science from the University of Arkansas.

Speaker 6

Tori Lecomte

Title: Investor, HawkTower | LinkedIn

Founder & CEO of Sesh, Polaris-backed digital health company. Sesh merged with Caraway in 2023. She was also Chief of Staff/GM at, tech IBD at Barclays, and a Forbes 30 Under 30 for social impact.

Speaker 1

Charles Eason

Title: Advisor, Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) and Director, Small Business Development Center | LinkedIn

Mr. Eason is a Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Advisor for the California Small Business Development Center (SBDC) working with tech clients through Tech Futures Group which is a specialty program of the Norcal Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted by Cal Poly Humboldt, Silicon Valley Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted by San Jose State University, UC Merced SBDC, Valley Sierra SBDC, and El Camino College SBDC which is part of the LA Region SBDC.

He has also been in statewide leadership positions as the Statewide Director for Business and Entrepreneurship for the California Community Colleges Economic and Workforce Development Program where he coordinated the business and entrepreneurship programs at the 116 community colleges, as the Associate Director of the California Community Colleges Statewide Economic Development Network (ED>Net), and as chair of the California Community Colleges Small Business Programs committee. In his positions as a former Small Business Development Center Director, Business Incubator Manager, and current work as a SBIR/STTR Advisor, Mr. Eason has provided training and counseling to thousands of entrepreneurs over the past twenty-eight years.

Mr. Eason’s business ventures have included a real estate development company, a chain of gourmet coffee houses, a business brokerage, and a tech startup that developed a rapid prototyping technology for 3D printing of houses with funding through a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant. Mr. Eason also worked in the aerospace industry as a systems engineer for TRW’s Ballistic Missile Program. Mr. Eason earned a B.S. in Engineering Sciences from the University of California, San Diego and an MBA from California State University, San Bernardino.

Speaker 2

Ryan Witt

Title: Angel Investor, Tech Coast Angels and Vice President, Business Development & Strategy | LinkedIn

Ryan Witt is President of Asclepius Enterprises, where he helps companies (pre-seed through publicly listed), academia, and accelerators advance their solutions in healthcare/life science sectors, as well as helping select investors (including himself) advance portfolio companies. Previously, Ryan served as Hub Director at UCLA Biodesign, where he coordinated the program’s partnerships with industry, investors, and mentors, and overall hub operations. Prior to UCLA Biodesign, Ryan functioned as the Head of StartX Med, a Stanford-affiliated lifelong founder community of over 450 entrepreneurs managing pre-seed through publicly traded companies across digital health, medical devices, consumer health, biopharmaceuticals and research tools with a communal market cap of over $7B.

As an operator in digital health, Ryan served as Director of Product and Client Success at CareDox and as a generalist at drChrono (acquired) -- where he developed digital health products that served tens of thousands of clinicians and millions of patients. In the biopharmaceutical sector, he served as the Chief Operating Officer at Immix Biopharma (Nasdaq:IMMX) -- a clinical-stage therapeutics company, where he worked across regulatory, clinical and manufacturing functions, as well as investor relations and business development, to bring the company's lead asset into the clinic and raise requisite financings. In public policy, he served as a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’s Consumer Empowerment Working Group at the Office of the National Coordinator under the Obama administration. Locally, Ryan’s contributions to the Southern California life science ecosystem were recognized by a Biocom Catalyst Award in 2018. Ryan is currently a mentor to several accelerator programs, including CLS-FAST, StartX, Nucleate, KidsX, Scale Health, and Blockbuster Tokyo.

He is also a member of the Los Angeles chapter of Tech Coast Angels/a periodic angel investor (15+ investments with 3 acquisitions) and Biocom’s Capital Development Committee, and co-chairs BiocomLA's Startup Resources Committee. Ryan has a BA in business economics with a minor in biological sciences from UC Irvine.

Speaker 4

Daniel Sabzehzar

Title: Managing Partner, Tesserakt Ventures | LinkedIn

Daniel Emilio Sabzehzar is Managing Partner at Tesserakt Ventures, a Silicon Valley based venture capital firm that invests in deep tech companies reinventing foundational industries. Daniel studied Biochemistry and Public Health at UC Merced and specializes in supporting science-led teams bring technology breakthroughs from the lab to industry, helping Tesserakt backed companies raise $350M in the past 4 years.

Speaker 5

Andy Artz

Title: Founder and Managing Partner, Dark Arts | LinkedIn

Andy Artz is the founder and managing partner of Dark Arts, an early stage investment firm based in San Francisco that partners with entrepreneurs and scientists to build companies that accelerate human progress. Previously, Andy was a partner at Social Capital, an early stage VC firm with $1B+ AUM and 500+ portfolio companies. Andy has also held roles as a VP at mobile game studio OMGPOP (acquired by Zynga) and as a corporate development analyst at IBM. Andy graduated from Harvard with a degree in physics.


Speaker 1

Laura Lucas

Title:  General Partner, L'ATTITUDE Ventures | LinkedIn

Led by her passion to support Latino founders, Cecilia initially joined L’ATTITUDE Ventures while pursuing her MBA. Prior to joining L’ATTITUDE Ventures, she was a Senior Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington, D.C., where she advised federal clients on investigations related to transnational organized crimes including money laundering and drug trafficking. She supports college students as an Ascend Coach for MLT. Cecilia holds a B.A. in International Affairs and a B.A. in Romance Languages, Spanish & French from the University of Georgia. Cecilia earned her MBA at the USC Marshall School of Business as a Toigo and Consortium Fellow.

Speaker 2

Tiq Chapa

Title: Investor,  L'ATTITUDE Ventures | LinkedIn

Tiq was previously a VC Investor at the Silicon Valley-based, and he holds a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. With global investment experience ranging from Seed to Series B, Tiq excels in connecting founders to capital, opportunities, and talented teams. Leveraging his expertise in finance and entrepreneurship, especially in venture capital, he leads due diligence, invests in founders, and generates deal flow for L’ATTITUDE Ventures. His dedication extends to building networks for Latinx organizations and research projects that highlight opportunities for underrepresented communities.