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

Peter 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. Peter is an alumnus of Cornell University with an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.

Dr. Richard Sayre

Chief Science Officer

Richard leads Trait Biosciences, following an accomplished career in biotechnology and advanced scientific research. Prior to Trait, he served as a Level 6 Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Over the course of his career, he has authored over 150 biotechnology papers and patents and is credited with more than 9,000 citations in scientific publications. He is recognized by Nature Journal as one of the top five crop researchers who could change the world. His renowned capability for leading teams engaged in breakthrough research, has enabled Richard to secure more than $100 million dollars in grant funding for projects and studies under his direction. He possesses a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Iowa and performed his post doctorate work in molecular biology at Harvard University.

Dr. Rebecca L. White

Chief Operating 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 17 years practicing corporate and securities law, providing legal services for financing private and public companies. David serves as a director of numerous Capital Pool Companies listed for trading on the TSX-Venture Exchange in Canada. Over the course of his career, David has served as strategic advisor to CEOs on their financing and business strategies; providing corporate, commercial and securities legal counsel. David received a bachelor degree in environmental studies from the University of Victoria and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of British Columbia.

Eugene Hodgson

Chief Financial Officer

Eugene joins Trait Biosciences following an extensive career in the capital markets and public companies, serving in leadership roles in private industry most recently as a merchant banker at Corpfinance International, as well as in public service roles as a public policy and political advisor and Chair of Vancouver Community College. Eugene’s experience includes First Nations negotiations, corporate and financial strategy. He is a Board member of Pebble Labs, 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.

Kimberly Harrison

Vice President of Development

Kimberly brings more than 25 years experience as an entrepreneur across multiple industries and experience in roles such as corporate strategy, product development, VC funding, IP management, distribution/licensing and government relations. In her work, 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, ranging 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. Erick LeBrun

Vice President Research

Dr. LeBrun has a Ph.D. in Biology from Baylor University, where he focused on microbial ecology, metagenomics, and bioinformatics. His expertise is in using genetics to explore microbial community dynamics and novel bioinformatics analyses to turn large genomic datasets into meaningful information for real-world application.

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 the fields of 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 multinational agricultural-biotech companies. In prior leadership roles working at Monsanto and Syngenta, he was granted numerous patents in scientific fields 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 (The Netherlands).

Dr. Richard T. DeRose

Vice President of Product Development

Dr. DeRose brings more than 25 years of experience in ag biotechnology from prior roles at Syngenta and Bayer, developing innovation strategies for R&D projects. His prior experience includes serving as co-inventor of the first commercialized Roundup Ready Corn varieties. Additionally, he was awarded the ASPB 2017 Innovation Prize for Agricultural Technology for successfully translating discovery research into demonstrable, real-world outcomes on global agriculture. 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 is currently PMP certified.

Dr. Aristobulo Loaiza

Vice President of Business Development

Dr. Loaiza brings more than 10 years of leadership experience in commercial roles and technical services, including time served as BASF’s head of business development and technology evaluation within the Venture Capital/New Business Development Group. He has extensive insight into the value chains surrounding aquaculture, food, chemicals and agriculture. Dr. Loaiza received his Ph.D. in biochemistry & chemistry from Purdue University and a master’s degree in chemistry from UCLA.

Edward Cheung

Director of Business Development

Edward has over 20 years of experience in global investment banks, including 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. She subsequently joined management consulting firm Bain & Co in London, before moving to a strategy role with WorldPay. Dr. Lo was most 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

David Kerr is a licensed patent attorney and special advisor overseeing Trait Bioscience’s US and International intellectual property portfolio. He has drafted and filed more than twenty patent applications protecting Trait’s innovative science and actively supports due diligence and licensing efforts. In addition to his work with Trait Biosciences, David’s legal practice is engaged in advising private and institutional capital funds that focus on the Cannabis industry. David received his B.S. degree in Microbiology from Brigham Young University. He was awarded a dual JD/MBA from the University of Denver, and possesses a graduate degree in Molecular Genetics & Cellular Biology from Washington State University.

Michael Harrison

Chairman of the Board

Michael currently serves as CEO to a large private Ag Biotech company and 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 is directly responsible for raising in excess of U.S. $1 billion in funding for private and publicly traded companies.

Peter McDonough


Peter serves as Chief Executive Officer of Trait Biosciences, and previously served in international senior leadership roles at market leaders such as Proctor & Gamble, Gillette, Duracell, Black & Decker and Braun. Prior to Trait Biosciences, his most recent corporate role was Diageo North America, President, Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer. Peter currently serves on the Boards of Viridian Capital Advisors, Empower Clinics, Inc., The Splash Beverage Group and IgnitionOne Interactive.

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.

David Smalley


David has 17 years practicing corporate and securities law, providing legal services for financing private and public companies. David is a director of a number of Capital Pool Companies listed for trading on the TSX-Venture Exchange and has advised CEOs on their financing and business strategies, providing corporate, commercial and securities legal services.

Joseph del Moral


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.

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