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Science and Innovation Council Members

Elizabeth Hutt Pollard (Chair)

Secretary of Science and Innovation

Governor Kevin Stitt appointed Pollard as Secretary of Science and Innovation on June 29, 2020.  In this position, Pollard places a strategic emphasis on enabling science and innovation to impact health, commerce, and stem education for Oklahoma. Prior to her appointment by Governor Stitt, Pollard served as Deputy Secretary of Science and Innovation under Secretary Kayse Shrum.

In addition to her cabinet role, Pollard is Executive Chair of Applied Silver, a materials science health-tech company located in Silicon Valley addressing infection control and antibiotic stewardship. She is a C-Suite veteran and has extensive global experience scaling businesses, building commercial and academic partnerships, and bringing to market highly specialized technology and solutions, including software and microfluidics, for healthcare, pharma, diagnostics, and life science research. Because of her expertise in genomic tools and test development, Pollard serves as an advisor to the Oklahoma Department of Health’s COVID-19 testing response and has been instrumental in fostering commercial technology partnerships for the State’s COVID-19 testing.

In addition, Pollard advises several early stage healthcare companies and has held board director roles in public, private and non-profit organizations. Most recently, Pollard has been named to the 2020-2023 YPO Global Board of Directors and serves on the finance committee. YPO’s 29,000 executive leaders represent businesses that together account for the world’s 3rd largest GDP.

Pollard is a past member of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), Women Corporate Directors (WCD), and the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Pollard moved to Oklahoma in 2018 from California because of her appreciation for the State’s infrastructure, culture, and values. She and her husband, Dennis, reside in Edmond. She is a native Michigander and received her BA in Chemistry from Michigan State University and MS in Administration from Central Michigan University.

Chris Benge

Executive Director of Rural and Tribal Health Policy, OSU Center for Health Sciences

Chris Benge, a native of Tulsa and proud member of the Cherokee Nation, is also an Oklahoma State University alum. He worked with his father in a small family-owned painting and construction business for 15 years before entering the Oklahoma Legislature. Benge served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for 12 years. During his time in the House he served for three years as Chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee and as Speaker of the House from 2008 to 2010. After leaving the House and Speaker positions due to term limits, he returned to Tulsa to work as an advisor to Mayor Dewey Bartlett, and in 2011 he was named Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at the Tulsa Regional Chamber. In Governor Mary Fallin’s administration, he served as Secretary of State, Secretary of Native American Affairs, and Chief of Staff. In 2019, he joined OSU Center for Health Sciences as Executive Director of Rural and Tribal Health Policy.

Tomas Diaz de la Rubia, Ph.D.

Vice President, Research and Partnerships, OU

Tomas is a science and technology leader, strategist, and administrator with extensive experience in government, academia, and the private sector. As Vice President for Research and Partnerships at the University of Oklahoma, he leads OU’s efforts to enhance the scale and scope of the university’s research enterprise, and to develop a new strategic framework for research to propel the university forward, particularly in the areas of national security, energy and sustainability, and the life sciences.

Prior to this assignment, Tomas was the Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Purdue University. In that capacity, he helped the university pursue major new research initiatives and contracts, and led Discovery Park, a transdisciplinary complex of centers, institutes and facilities focused on turning new ideas and discoveries into disruptive innovations with global impact on society. During Tomas’ tenure at Purdue from September 2015 to September 2019, Discovery Park focused strategically on the development of real world solutions to major global challenges in health and the life sciences; sustainability and the nexus of energy, food, water, climate and the environment; and national security and defense. Over the same period, Discovery Park saw growth in research funding from industry, government, foreign institutions, and philanthropic organizations of over 120%. Tomas was also responsible for the success of the Burton Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship and the Purdue Foundry, a hub to nurture and launch new start-up companies based on faculty and student intellectual property into the market.

Prior to Purdue, Tomas worked for Deloitte Consulting, LLP where he was the innovation leader and a Director in the energy and resources industry practice.

Prior to joining Deloitte, Tomas was the Deputy Director for Science and Technology at the U.S. Department of Energy Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where he served as the Laboratory’s Chief Research Officer and oversaw a $250M program of basic and applied research.

Jerry Malayer, Ph.D.

Associate Dean, Research & Education, OSU College of Veterinary and Health Sciences

Malayer has been on the faculty at OSU-CVHS since 1994. He is a Professor and McCasland Chair in the Department of Physiological Sciences in the College of Veterinary Medicine. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Purdue University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Florida. He was the recipient of a National Research Service Award Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health.

He is a founding member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Oklahoma Center for Adult Stem Cell Research, Past Chair of the Research Committee of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, State Executive Director for Oklahoma EPSCoR, and currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Coalition of EPSCoR States.

Recently, he became the founding Director of the OSU Center for Integrative Microbiome Science. Malayer's research focuses on mechanisms of inter-and intra-cellular communication, the role of steroid receptors in the control of gene expression, and molecular approaches in the development of diagnostic technologies.

Robert Mannel, Ph.D.

Director, Stephenson Cancer Center

Mannel is the Rainbolt Family Endowed Chair in Cancer and Professor of Gynecologic Oncology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC). He joined the faculty in 1989 and served as Section Chief for Gynecologic Oncology (1989-1997) and Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology (1997-2013).

Since 2006 he has served as Director of the Stephenson Cancer Center (SCC), which achieved NCI Designation under his leadership in 2018. As director, Mannel is responsible for working with the SCC senior leadership team, program leaders, shared resource directors, and other SCC research and clinical stakeholders in the development, implementation and progress of strategic goals that advance the SCC’s mission to reduce the burden of cancer in Oklahoma. Mannel also serves as the Associate Vice Provost for Cancer Programs on the OUHSC campus.

Professionally, he is a national leader in the field of gynecologic oncology, having served on the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology - Gynecologic Oncology subspecialty board. His research interests focus mainly on clinical trial design and conduct.

From 1990 to 2017 he served as PI of the Stephenson Cancer Center’s NCI GOG/NRG institutional grant. Nationally, he served as chair of the GOG Ovarian Committee (2005-2010) and chair of the NRG/GOG Gynecologic Cancer Committee (2010-2017).

From 2014 to 2017 he served as corresponding PI for the Stephenson Cancer Center’s NCI NCTN U10 Lead Academic Participating Site grant.

In 2017, he was elected as group chair for the NRG, the largest cooperative group research network for the National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN).

Kenneth Sewell, Ph.D.

Vice President, Research, OSU

Sewell joined Oklahoma State University as the Vice President for Research in 2015. Additionally, he serves as the President of the OSU Research Foundation. In these roles, he is responsible for the policies, offices, service units, and affiliated entities that support and promote research, scholarship, creative artistry, technology transfer, and IP commercialization at OSU.

As a member of OSU’s senior leadership team, Dr. Sewell actively engages with the president, provost, other vice presidents, and deans to ensure that research is supported, promoted, and integrated throughout the entire mission of the institution. In the context of public higher education, Dr. Sewell views research as the engine that drives all persons engaged in and with it—whether they are faculty researchers, students, community participants / partners, or societal consumers—to the vanguard of change, transformation, and progress.

As President of the OSU Research Foundation, a 501(c)(3) entity wholly owned by OSU, Dr. Sewell leads the technology transfer and licensing enterprise, as well as Cowboy Technologies—a commercialization and investment subsidiary designed to strategically facilitate transforming OSU-owned intellectual properties into start-up companies.

In addition to providing investment resources to select companies and inventions, Cowboy Technologies delivers business development services and entrepreneurship training via a partnership with OSU’s NSF-funded I-Corps program.

Sewell received his B.S. from Kansas State University. He then received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.

Raman Singh, Ph.D.

Associate Dean, Engineering, OSU-Tulsa

Singh serves as the Associate Dean for Engineering at OSU-Tulsa and as the Head of the School of Materials Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology at Oklahoma State University. He also serves as the Director of the Helmerich Advanced Technology Research Center at OSU-Tulsa and holds the Helmerich Family Endowed Chair Professor of Engineering.

Raman holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from the University of Rhode Island, and a B.Tech. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology--Kanpur, India. Prior to joining OSU in 2006 he was a faculty member at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Raman's research interests are in the failure mechanics of advanced and complex material systems, with an emphasis on the development of new techniques for material failure characterization. His research has been funded by industry and by government agencies such as the National Science Foundation, NASA, OCAST, Oklahoma Transportation Commission, US Army Research Office, and Department of Energy.

Matt Stacy

Founding Partner, Stacy Legal Group

Matt is a graduate of Oklahoma State University, where he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and a former tight end and linebacker for the football team. He has a Masters of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship from the University of Arizona and worked for several years in private industry before attending the University of Oklahoma College of Law for his Juris Doctor and, during his time there, was on the Dean’s Honor Roll, founded the Oklahoma Private Equity Club and was a member of the Mediation team, the Federalist Society, and the Energy Resources Legal Society.

Johnny Stephens, Pharm.D. (Vice Chair)

Senior Vice President & COO, OSU Center for Health Sciences

Stephens is a native Oklahoman who earned his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy (OU-COP) in 1999. He completed his fellowship in infectious diseases at OU-COP. Dr. Stephens was an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at OU Health Sciences Center for four years before joining the Department of Internal Medicine at OSU Center for Health Sciences (OSU-CHS) in January 2006.

At OSU-CHS, he was an avid researcher and educator in the areas of AIDS and infectious diseases before taking on increased administrative responsibilities, first as Vice Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine and then as Assistant Dean of Research.

In 2014, he was promoted to COO and Interim Vice President of Research.

In 2016, he was promoted to his current role as Senior Vice President of OSU-CHS.

Dr. Stephens has his undergraduate degree in Pharmacy from the University of Oklahoma.

Renzi Stone

CEO and Chairman of Saxum

Stone is the CEO and Chairman of Saxum, an independent integrated marketing communications agency with offices in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Houston. A native Oklahoman, Stone grew up in Tulsa and attended Jenks High School. He went on to attend the University of Oklahoma where he received his bachelor’s and played basketball from 1996 – 2000.

In 2003, he founded Saxum.

From 2015 - 2019, he served on the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. Stone also serves on several local and national boards of directors, including president of the Americas for IPREX, a global alliance of communication agencies, the PR Council in New York, Young Presidents Organization (YPO) chapter of Oklahoma City, CURE Epilepsy, and the Oklahoma Heritage Association.

Ann West, Ph.D.

Director, Oklahoma COBRE in Structural Biology / Assoc. VP, Research, OU

Ann joined the OU faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1996. She has led a highly productive research program focused on bacterial and fungal cell signaling pathways, supported by organizations such as NIH, NSF, OCAST, Research Corporation, and the Price Family Foundation.

Ann has co-authored 70 peer-reviewed research articles. She is credited with establishing OU-Norman's macromolecular crystallography program and is currently Director of a world-class Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Structural Biology, funded by very significant Phase I and Phase II grants from the NIH.

She earned her B.A. in Biology from Wesleyan University and her Ph.D. in Genetics from Yale University.

She gained further research training in protein biochemistry and structural biology as a Jane Coffin Childs postdoctoral fellow at Rutgers University.

Last Modified on Apr 30, 2021