April 13, 2021

Ag Biotech Pioneer Fraley Joins Trace Genomics Board


Contact: Monica Knickerbocker, monica@tracegenomics.com, (303) 638-0514  

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – Tues., April 13, 2021 – Trace Genomics announces the appointment of Dr. Robert (Robb) Fraley to its board of directors. Dr. Fraley, who served for nearly 40 years as chief technology officer at Monsanto and helped develop the first genetically modified seed, will provide guidance to the company as it advances its ground-breaking science and products in the field of soil DNA testing.

“His role in advancing biotech innovation in global agriculture the past four decades is truly unparalleled,” said Dan Vradenburg, chief executive officer of Trace Genomics, a company that developed the first and only soil microbiome test to help farmers predict soil disease, soil health and crop quality using DNA sequencing and machine learning.

“We are honored to have Robb, a true pioneer in ag biotechnology who will bring his vast expertise and unique vision to a talented board,” said Vradenburg.

Other industry leaders on the board include Bill Buckner, former president/CEO of Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation/Noble Research Institute, as well as regional head, North American Operations Bayer CropScience, Veery Maxwell, partner Ajax Strategies, Cristina Rohr, principal of investments with S2G Ventures, and Mike Tolle, formerly with Country Partners Cooperative and CHS.

Often recognized as the father of agriculture biotechnology, Dr. Fraley led a team of agriculture scientists at Monsanto dedicated to developing seeds and solutions that help farmers produce a more abundant, affordable, and sustainable food supply. He oversaw a team of researchers focused on plant breeding and biotechnology, ag biologicals, ag microbials, precision agriculture and crop protection innovations.

“Understanding soil biology, the living microorganisms beneath our feet, is paramount to producing crops sustainably, and Trace Genomics technology is unmatched in this field,” said Dr. Fraley. “The world is running out of new farmland, yet farmers need to produce more to feed a growing population. It’s imperative that we give them the tools they need to improve soil quality, reduce the amount of fertilizer and other inputs, and produce abundant, healthy crops. Trace Genomics is at the forefront of addressing these challenges.”

Retiring in June 2018, Dr. Fraley continues to passionately advocate for the use of technology to address global food insecurity and reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture.

Among his notable honors, Dr. Fraley was awarded the prestigious 2013 World Food Prize for breakthrough achievements in founding, developing and applying modern agriculture technology and in 1999 was honored with the National Medal of Technology by President Clinton. In 2008, he received the National Academy of Sciences Award for the Industrial Application of Science for developing technologies that enabled the production of the world’s first transgenic crops. The following year he received the Biotechnology Heritage Award from the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the Chemical Heritage Foundation. In addition, Dr. Fraley has authored more than 100 publications and patent applications relating to technical advances in agricultural sciences.

Dr. Fraley, who resides in St. Louis, holds a Bachelor of Science and Ph.D. in microbiology/biochemistry from the University of Illinois and an executive degree in business management from Northwestern University, and was a biophysics postdoctoral fellow at the University of California San Francisco.

Trace Genomics uses soil science, genomics, and machine learning to measure the bacteria and fungi in soil that cause disease and cycle nutrients. Those measurements are combined with soil chemical characteristics to provide farmers and agronomists with a window into the health and productivity of their soil, enabling them to make data-based management decisions.

Based in Redwood City, Calif., with a new state-of-the-art laboratory in Ames, Iowa, Trace Genomics was co-founded by Poornima Parameswaran, PhD, vice president of Science, Tech & Innovation, and is led by Vradenburg.

To learn more, visit tracegenomics.com.