About Us

Inside every hemp and cannabis plant is a world of untapped potential. At Trait we unlock the incredible natural health and wellness benefits of this ancient plant. We transform science and technologies into groundbreaking advances in cannabinoid cultivation and product development. Our mission is to make hemp and cannabis purer and safer products for everyone to enjoy.

Peter J. McDonough

Chief Executive Officer

McDonough has driven global success across numerous consumer industries, serving in senior leadership roles at Diageo, Procter & Gamble, Gillette, Duracell, Black & Decker and Braun. In his most recent corporate role, he served as Diageo North America President, Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer. His professional experience spans seven industries, leading teams on three continents and includes time as a faculty member at University of Canterbury’s Graduate School of Business (New Zealand). He has also served in advisory roles such as the Board of Directors at the AdCouncil of America and Effies Worldwide. McDonough is an alumnus of Cornell University, and has a MBA from the Wharton School of Business.

Dr. Rebecca L. White

Chief Technology Officer

Rebecca joins Trait Biosciences following over a decade of experience within bioscience based industries, successfully pioneering efforts to commercialize algae as an agricultural crop. As a scientist with a strong business and communications background, her experience in both commercialization of novel plant-based products and technology transfer from lab to field make her uniquely suited to lead Trait’s operations team. Rebecca has a Ph.D. in Microbiology from Texas A&M University, and received her Honors B.Sc. degree from the University of North Texas.

David Smalley

Chief Legal Counsel

David has nearly 20 years of corporate and securities law experience, providing legal services for financing private and public companies. He serves as director of numerous capital pool companies listed for trading on the TSX-Venture Exchange in Canada. David advises CEOs on their financing and business strategies and provides corporate, commercial and securities legal counsel. He received a bachelor degree in environmental studies from the University of Victoria and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of British Columbia.

Steven Ofstehage

Vice President of Finance, Controller

Steve has 25 years of experience leading finance and accounting functions for public and private companies across oil and gas, insurance and telecommunications industries. He has strong expertise in managing accounts payable and accounts receivable processes, managing high-performance teams, converting accounting procedures from private to publicly held, budgeting and audit reviews. He is a graduate of the University of Wyoming with a B.S. in Accounting.

Kimberly Harrison

Vice President of Development

Kimberly brings more than 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur across multiple industries. Kimberly is experienced in corporate strategy, product development, VC funding, patents, distribution/licensing, and government relations. She has served on numerous international product certification and standardization committees.

Ron Deutsch

Chief People Officer

Ron brings more than 30 years of experience in senior leadership roles within the technical and professional service industries, from Fortune 100 organizations to early-stage entrepreneurial companies. Ron holds a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of California, Los Angeles, a Juris Doctor degree from Southern Methodist University, and a Fellowship in Labor Relations from the National Public Employers Labor Relations Association at Cornell University’s School of Industrial & Labor Relations.

Dr. Oliver Kayser

Fellow – Senior Science Advisor

Dr. Kayser has been engaged in Cannabis sativa-related research for more than a decade and is recognized throughout the world for his expertise. He is a leading authority on the elucidation of trichome localized biosynthesis of cannabinoids, using sophisticated analytical techniques for compound detection, spatial resolution analysis and structural elucidation. His main research is in natural product biotechnology and metabolic engineering of yeast as recombinant organism for the production of cannabinoids. Dr. Kayser holds a patent and 39 peer-reviewed papers on cannabis and has personally authored eight chapters on the subject of cannabis in various books and publications. He received his bachelor degree in pharmacy from the University Munster (Germany) and his Ph.D. from the Free University Berlin (Germany).

Dr. Tawanda Zidenga

Vice President Research

Dr. Zidenga brings more than 15 years of experience in advanced studies in plant tissue culture, metabolic engineering, and plant secondary metabolism research. He received his Ph.D. in plant cellular and molecular biology from Ohio State University and a bachelor’s degree in crop science from the University of Zimbabwe.

Dr. Pedro Costa Nunes

Vice President Research

Dr. Costa Nunes received his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Lisbon, Portugal. He is a plant cell and molecular biologist with expertise in epigenetics, DNA damage response and smRNA mediated regulation of gene expression.

Dr. Omar Holguin

Scientific Advisor

Dr. Holguin is an assistant professor at New Mexico State University and a Research Fellow at the New Center for Genomic Resources, and President at Ealasid Inc. His research interests are largely in discovering, studying, and modifying plant biochemical pathways, as well as with bioenergy/bioproducts and medicinal plant biosynthetic pathway research.

Dr. Norman G. Lewis

Scientific Advisor

Dr. Lewis serves as a Regents Professor at Washington State University, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and other learned societies.  He has over 50 years of academic and industrial expertise in chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology and genetic engineering. He has published over 250 papers and receives support for research from US and Canadian federal agencies, (DOE, NASA, NSF, NIH, USDA and NSERC) and from multiple world class companies and foundations. Dr. Lewis has held senior editorial positions (e.g. Phytochemistry) and leadership roles in numerous scientific societies, including Director of the Institute of Biological Chemistry at WSU.

Dr. Tichafa R.I. Munyikwa

Vice President Regulatory Affairs

Dr. Munyikwa brings more than 20 years of experience as a senior research scientist and global regulatory expert, working within industry-leading agricultural-biotech companies. In prior leadership roles at Monsanto and Syngenta, he was granted numerous patents related to agribusiness development, plant molecular and cell biology, biologicals, RNA interference, genome editing, and synthetic biology. Dr. Munyikwa received his Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Dr. Richard T. DeRose

Vice President of Product Development

Dr. DeRose brings more than 25 years of experience in agriculture biotechnology from prior roles at Syngenta and Bayer, developing innovation strategies for R&D projects. His background includes serving as co-inventor of the first commercialized Roundup Ready Corn varieties. Dr. DeRose was awarded the American Society of Plant Biologists 2017 Innovation Prize for Agricultural Technology for successfully translating discovery research into demonstrable, real-world outcomes. Dr. DeRose received his Ph.D. in medical microbiology and immunology from Wake Forest School of Medicine, and B.Sc. in microbiology from Clemson University. He also holds a current PMP certification.

Edward Cheung

Director of Business Development

Edward has more than 20 years of experience in global investment banking at JPMorgan, Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse, advising on equities and derivatives to institutions, hedge funds and sovereign wealth funds. He is experienced in setting up new businesses, including a trading division at a U.S. bank, and has served as board member of several startups. He holds a B.Sc. in economics from University College London and a master’s degree in property valuation & law from London Cass Business School.

Dr. Anne Lo

Director of Strategic Development

Dr. Lo trained as a veterinary surgeon and has worked in a number of clinical positions prior to joining Bain & Co in London. Dr. Lo held a strategic role with WorldPay and was recently with Horizons Ventures based in Hong Kong, where she primarily covered science and healthcare investments. Dr. Lo received her B.Sc. and BVM&S degrees from the University of Edinburgh, and Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge.

David S. Kerr

Advisor Intellectual Property

Dr. Kerr is an intellectual property lawyer partner with Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti, LLP, and serves as special advisor overseeing Trait Bioscience’s US and International intellectual property portfolio. In addition to his work with Trait Biosciences, Dr. Kerr’s legal practice is engaged in advising private and institutional capital funds that focus on the Cannabis industry. Dr. Kerr has joint JD/MBA and graduate degrees in the molecular biosciences.

Michael Harrison

Chairman of the Board

Michael has 35 years of experience in investment banking with interests in the resource, energy and biotechnology sectors. Michael has served as CEO of two companies that he led to successful exits totaling in excess of $2 billion. He has also served on the board of directors for numerous international publicly listed companies. Michael has raised in excess of $1 billion in funding for private and publicly traded companies.

Peter McDonough

Director

Peter serves as Chief Executive Officer of Trait Biosciences, and previously served in international senior leadership roles at Proctor & Gamble, Gillette, Duracell, Black & Decker and Braun. Prior to joining Trait Biosciences, his most recent corporate role was Diageo North America, President, Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer. His professional experience spans seven industries leading teams on three continents, time served as a faculty member at University of Canterbury’s Graduate School of Business in New Zealand, and performing advisory roles at the AdCouncil of America and Effies Worldwide. He currently serves on the boards of Viridian Capital Advisors, Empower Clinics, Inc., The Splash Beverage Group and IgnitionOne Interactive. Peter is an alumnus of Cornell University, and has a MBA from the Wharton School of Business.

Ronan Levy

Director

Ronan is co-founder of Grassfed Ventures Inc., a private equity and advisory firm focused on the cannabis and biotechnology industries. He has served as Senior Vice President, Business and Corporate Affairs at Aurora Cannabis Inc., which he joined after Aurora acquired CanvasRx Inc. in 2016, a company Ronan co-founded. Ronan also serves on the Board of Directors of Province Brands.

David Smalley

Director

David has nearly 20 years practicing corporate and securities law, providing legal services for financing private and public companies. He is a director of a number of capital pool companies listed for trading on the TSX-Venture Exchange. David advises CEOs on their financing and business strategies, and provides corporate, commercial and securities legal services.

Joseph del Moral

Director

Joseph was the co-founder and CEO of CanvasRx, the largest cannabis clinic company in Canada, which was acquired by Aurora Cannabis in 2016. Prior to joining Trait’s Board, he was on the Board of Directors of Aurora, where he helped lead M&A efforts, resulting in over a dozen transactions. Before entering the cannabis industry, Joseph co-founded Newton Home Comfort, a services company acquired by Just Energy Inc. (JE.TO).

Keith Levy

Keith currently serves as a management consultant following three decades of executive leadership in numerous multinational CPG organizations.  Prior to this, he served as President of the Mars Wrigley’s Global Business Development division where he led the multibillion-dollar acquisition and integration of KIND Snacks and previously served as President of Royal Canin USA, a global manufacturer of premium dog and cat nutrition. Earlier he served as Anheuser-Busch Chief Marketing Officer with responsibility for the largest portfolio of beer brands in North America. Keith is an advisory board member to the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology at Webster University in St. Louis, MO.  

Pete Carr

Pete currently serves as President of Bacardi North America, the world’s largest privately held spirits company. He is a proven leader in driving business performance for industry-leading companies within the spirits, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverage industries. Prior to joining Bacardi, Pete was Executive Vice President for Glazer’s Distributors, one of the country’s largest beverage alcohol distributors.  Earlier in his career he held various senior management roles with Diageo, including President of U.S. Spirits, President of Guinness (DGUSA) and previous leadership roles within the energy drinks and wine industries.

Colin Stott

Former Scientific Affairs Director for GW Pharmaceuticals, a world leader in the development of cannabinoid therapeutics and creator of Epidiolex®, the first FDA-approved cannabidiol therapy drug. Currently COO of Alinova Biosciences Ltd, with 30 years’ experience in bioscience and pharmaceutical pre-clinical and clinical development as well as specific expertise in the development of cannabinoid-based medicines.

Eugene Hodgson

Eugene is an accomplished and agile senior executive who has held roles in private and public industry as a banker and a financial and public policy advisor. He has significant expertise in renewable energy, technology, and natural resources, and connecting businesses and financing sources. Eugene is an experienced negotiator with First Nations groups, and a strategic board member for a number of business and community associations, including serving as the Director and Audit Chair of Pebble Labs Inc., Maxtech Ventures Inc., Rover Metals Inc., Century Metal Inc., and RedFund Capital Corp. He is a graduate of the University of Calgary with a B.A. in economics and political science.

Ronan Levy

Ronan is co-founder of Grassfed Ventures Inc., a private equity and advisory firm focused on the cannabis and biotechnology industries. He has served as Senior Vice President, Business and Corporate Affairs at Aurora Cannabis Inc., which he joined after Aurora acquired CanvasRx Inc. in 2016, a company Ronan co-founded. Ronan also serves on the Board of Directors of Province Brands.

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