Management Team

William F. Kirk

Chairman and CEO

Mr. Kirk has 37 years of experience at DuPont, where as Group Vice President he led its $4.5 billion Agriculture Business and served as a member of the CEO's Strategy/Operating Committee. Mr. Kirk created a vision to expand agricultural participation from crop protection to include the acquisition of Pioneer Hi-Bred, biotechnology research and development, and food ingredients (Protein Technology Acquisition). In addition to being named Agrimarketer of the Year in 1998 by Agrimarketer Magazine, Mr. Kirk was recognized for his biotechnology leadership by University of Illinois, and he received an award for his service to agriculture by the Farm Managers Association.

Frank DeGennaro

Chief Operating Officer

Prior to joining Advanced BioNutrition Corp., Frank was Vice President of Specialty Crops at Perdue Agribusiness with responsibility for all commercial efforts across Specialty Crops business unit. Prior to joining Perdue, Frank spent more than 32 yrs at DuPont. Frank’s career with DuPont included a wide variety of assignments of increasing responsibilities across DuPont’s Ag and Food businesses including DuPont Crop Protection, DuPont Pioneer, Optimum Quality Grains, DuPont Biologicals and DuPont Nutrition and Health. His roles spanned research, business development, strategy, operations, sales, global product development, technology management and business leadership. Born in Woodbridge, Connecticut, Frank grew up working on the family farm. He holds a B.S. and M.S. from Purdue University. Frank also holds an M.S. in Management of Technology from Walden University. He sits on the International Business Advisory Board of Saint Joseph’s University, Haub School of Business, the Private and Public, Scientific, Academic, and Consumer Food Policy Group at the Harvard Kennedy School and is a member of the board of directors of the Sassafras River Association. Frank’s passion is supporting youth leadership activities involving academic, athletic, and youth ministry teams.

Dr. Robert Ackerson

Vice President of Research and Development

Dr. Ackerson joined ABN in 2014 and has scientific and management leadership positions. Prior to joining ABN in 2014, he was affiliated with AgroSphere Consulting, LLC from 2008 until 2014, providing consulting services to numerous multi-national companies in the crop protection industry. From 2004 until 2008 he was Head of Research for Devgen, NV in Gent Belgium as well as being a member of the company’s management board. Before joining Devgen, he held numerous technical and management positions in the Agriculture and Nutrition business division of E.I. DuPont de Nemours, Co. between 1977 and 2004. He received his Ph.D in Agronomy/Plant Physiology from Texas Tech University and has authored numerous scientific publications, holds 2 US patents and has received awards from national and international scientific organizations and companies.

Marketing and Business Management Team

Dr. Konrad Kmetz

Director of Business Development

Dr. Kmetz is a recognized expert in plant pathology, joined ABN in 2013, with responsibility for developing additional applications of ABN’s patented technology in the areas of seed inoculants and enhancing crop health.Dr. Kmetz brings extensive professional experience as an agricultural consultant in both academic and private sector enterprises. He also spent more than 31 years in varied roles within The DuPont Company’s Agricultural Products business, including research and development, business development, and project management. Dr. Kmetz graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Botany and earned his doctorate in Plant Pathology from the Ohio State University. He is a Vietnam-era veteran of the United State Army.

Larry Loehr

Director of Business Development

Prior to joining ABN in June, 2008, Mr. Loehr provided the company with business development and marketing consulting services. Earlier in his career, Mr. Loehr was employed for more than 30 years by the DuPont Company and served in various agriculture and nutrition platform marketing and business leadership roles in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and in other global assignments. Mr. Loehr received a Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University, and a Master of Science degree from University of Missouri.

Dr. Thomas Woods

Director of Business Development

Dr. Thomas Woods is leading ABN’s customer development efforts in food safety and exploratory areas. He also is responsible for managing ABN’s patent assets. He joined the ABN team in 2013 after a distinguished 33 year career at the DuPont Company’s Crop Protection business. Dr. Woods is highly experienced in formulations science, intellectual property licensing, as well as broadly-based scientific and regulatory affairs administration. He is a graduate of Auburn University and earned his doctorate in Organic Chemistry from the University of Illinois. He is also a Vietnam-era veteran of the United States Army where he served as a Research Scientist officer at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

Research and Development team

Brian Carpenter

Project Manager

Brian has had several roles in the organization, including production manager, QC Analytical Research Leader, and Project Manager. He came to ABN from Domino Sugar, where he worked in QC/Manufacturing. Mr. Carpenter has assisted on several patents, including stable drying process and microencapsulated vaccines for oral delivery. He acquired his BS in Nutritional Science from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Erin Dickey

Research Associate

Erin joined Advanced BioNutrition in November 2012. She joins ABN after graduation from the University of Maryland, College Park, MD with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science. Ms. Dickey focuses on product development and delivery technologies with probiotics.

Stephen Giarranto

Research Associate

Stephen joined ABN in 2016 as a Research Associate. Mr. Giarranto graduated from Salisbury University with a Master of Science degree in Applied Biology. Prior to joining ABN, he gained cell fermentation experience from Merck, Sharp & Dohme Corp. and Subsidiaries. Since joining ABN his focus is on stabilizing microorganisms through microencapsulation techniques intended to be implemented within pharmaceuticals, human nutraceuticals, and agricultural applications.

Dr. Moti Harel

Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Moti Harel, has been actively involved in marine aquaculture R&D for more than 15 years. Prior to joining ABN, Dr. Harel worked at the Center of Marine Biotechnology (COMB) at the University of Maryland, where he led an international research group in developing the first AquaGrow products and new larval feeds. While at COMB, Dr. Harel developed the first re-circulating hatchery system that successfully closed the life cycle of blue crabs, and he led a project which produced more than one million striped bass juveniles outside the natural spawning season. Earlier in his career, he managed the general operation of the larval rearing department at the National Center for Mariculture, one of the largest R&D centers in the Mediterranean. While there, Dr. Harel introduced a complete diet for valuable marine fish broodstock. Dr. Harel has published his work in British Journal of Nutrition, Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Aquaculture, Fish Physiology and Biochemistry, and Lipids. He has presented his work in many international professional conferences, and has been invited to present his work as a key speaker at numerous international conferences and workshops. Dr. Harel received his Ph.D. in biochemis

Majid Keshtmand


Majid joined ABN in 2013 and has over 24 years of experience in manufacturing, R & D food and pharmaceutical industries. Mr. Keshtmand received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of District of Columbia in Food Science and a Bachelor of Science degree from Shiraz University in Food Science & Human Nutrition. He has a vast knowledge of new product formulations and optimized formulations, as well as product scale up from his career at Ashland, ISP Pharma and Unilever.

Huyen Nguyen

Huyen Nguyen

Research Associate

Huyen joined ABN in 2016 as a Microbiologist. Ms. Nguyen graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia with a Bachelor of Science Degree, majoring in Chemistry. Her prior experience in Quality Control at Unilever and a Microbiologist at Nestle have further enhanced her career with product development and delivery technologies with human probiotics.

Dr. James Reap

Senior Scientist

Dr. Reap, has been active in formulation Research and Development for more than 25 years. Dr Reap holds a BS in Chemistry from Villanova University, a PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh and is a member of the American Chemical Society. Prior to joining ABN, Dr Reap worked at DuPont's Experimental Station and Haskel Research Center for more than 35 years in the areas of synthetic organic chemistry, process scale-up and formulation research, development and commercialization. In addition, Dr Reap served two years as a Patent Liaison. At ABN, Dr Reap is responsible for research and development of new ABN formulation projects including scale-up, optimization and technology transfer.

Trisha Rice

Laboratory Manager / Research Associate

Trisha joined the ABN Team in the spring of 2010. Trisha earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Ms. Rice has experience in various laboratory applications and assists ABN’s Food Technologists and Research Scientists in product development and delivery technologies with probiotics.

Peter Schmalz

Director of Process Development

Peter is responsible for directing the process development and engineering of new ABN processes, including scale-up, process optimization, and technology transfer for commercial manufacture. Prior to joining ABN, Mr. Schmalz was employed by the DuPont Company for 38 years. He served in a variety of managerial roles in R&D, engineering consulting, and facility design and construction, within DuPont Engineering and in engineering technology and operations management within the DuPont Crop Protection business. Mr. Schmalz holds a BSME degree from Valparaiso University and a MSChE degree from the University of Minnesota, and is a registered Professional Engineer. Mr. Schmalz also serves on the National Advisory Board for Christ College-The Honors College of Valparaiso University.

Human Resources

April Pugh

Director of Human Resources

April has been with ABN since 2001, serving as Financial Controller before being promoted to her current position, where she is responsible for managing recruiting, compensation, benefits and facilities. She brings to ABN 30 years of experience in accounting and business management, most of which has been in the biotechnology industry. Prior to ABN, Ms. Pugh put her accounting and business management expertise to work for Martek Biosciences Corporation. .


Lissy Menachery


Lissy is in charge of accounting operations, including the production of financial reports, maintenance of accounting records, and design and oversight of controls that mitigate risk and enhance the accuracy of reported results. Prior to joining ABN in 2005, she served as Accounting Manager at COLA, a nonprofit organization. Ms. Menachery is a Certified Public Accountant.