HudsonAlpha leadership works to make the vision of our co-founders come to life by promoting the development of research-driven discovery, enterprise and creating a genetically-literate society.
Devin Absher, PhD, serves as the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology’s Director for Genomic Health, which includes The HudsonAlpha Health Alliance, the HudsonAlpha Clinical Services Lab, and The Smith Family for Genomic Medicine. Before joining HudsonAlpha, Absher was a senior scientist at the Stanford Human Genome Center. Absher earned his PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology from Emory University in Atlanta in 2000. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in human genetics at Stanford University in 2005. Click here to view Devin’s faculty website.
Greg Barsh, MD, PhD, is a faculty investigator, faculty chair and Smith Family Chair in Genomics at HudsonAlpha. Barsh joined the Institute in 2009 and studies the genetic mechanisms that underlie differences in individual appearance and for which a deeper understanding promises new insight into both basic biology and human disease. He earned his MD and PhD in human genetics and pathology from the University of Washington in Seattle. Click here to view Barsh’s faculty website.
Flo Behn, PhD, is the director of research affairs at HudsonAlpha. She joined the Institute in 2009. In her role, Behn leads HudsonAlpha’s sponsored projects administration office and supports activities that help secure grant funding for existing and emerging research programs. Behn also held previous positions at the Institute as the research affairs coordinator and a research scientist in the Myers Lab. She earned her BS in biology from the University of Toledo and PhD in genetics from Stanford University.
Michael Bryan is the legal affairs and compliance officer at HudsonAlpha. He joined HudsonAlpha in 2014 and provides counsel and guidance on all legal and risk matters and advice to the Institute on ethics and compliance-related issues, requirements, and best practices. Bryan is a member of the Alabama bar and a Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional. Prior to joining HudsonAlpha, he was the research affairs compliance officer at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, served 11 years as general counsel to an Alabama telecommunications company and Family Office of associated companies, and worked in private practice. While in private practice, he also served as a deputy attorney general under Alabama Attorneys General Sessions and Evans. Bryan is a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law.
Lara Kohl Burhenn joined the Institute in 2019 to lead the communications department at HudsonAlpha, overseeing web, social media, news media, internal and external communications. She has nearly 20 years of strategic communications experience in both the public and private sectors. Burhenn earned her BA in communications/print journalism from Wichita State University and is a graduate of the Governor’s Executive Development Program from The LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
Alex Cate is the Director of Entrepreneurship Programs at HudsonAlpha where he supports tenant company business growth, technology commercialization and the development of the Institute’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Cate works with both HudsonAlpha faculty entrepreneurs and associate companies located on campus to help and identify resources for venture growth.
HudsonAlpha’s Economic Development mission is driven by the overarching goals of growing the biotech presence on the Institute’s campus and throughout north Alabama; leveraging the HudsonAlpha ecosystem for entrepreneurs, start-up companies and small businesses; creating opportunities for collaboration and for genomic services; and generating economic impact to local, state and regional stakeholders.
Darrell Ezell, Ph.D., leads the Institute’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts to better engage with the public, diversify our workforce, and create a more inclusive workplace that meets the needs of employees and communities. Ezell is a native of Huntsville and joined the Institute in 2020. He brings more than a decade of experience to the role designing and implementing intercultural communication programs and diversity and inclusion strategies. He previously served as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean at Claremont Lincoln University, helping to launch a new graduate university with academic programs to support leaders managing organizational change. His research in global diversity and diplomacy has culminated in him serving as a Visiting Professor of international studies at Louisiana State University. His work as a practitioner in inter-cultural relations spans the non-profit sector with time at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Interfaith Center of New York and in the public sector at the U.S. Department of State. Ezell earned his B.A. in Psychology from Alabama A&M University, M.A. in Systematic Theology from Union Theological Seminary, and Ph.D. in Religion and International Affairs from The University of Birmingham in Birmingham, England.
Jane Grimwood, PhD, serves as the faculty liaison at HudsonAlpha and co-directs the HudsonAlpha Genome Sequencing Center (HGSC). She joined HudsonAlpha in 2008. In 2000, Grimwood was a senior scientist at the Stanford Human Genome Center where she and her group were responsible for finishing and performing quality analysis on the 320 million base pairs of human chromosomes 5, 16 and 19, comprising more than 10 percent of the human genome. Grimwood earned her PhD in microbiology from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. Click here to view Grimwood’s faculty website.
Elizabeth Herrin serves as the director of external relations at HudsonAlpha. She joined the Institute in 2007 and is a member of the advancement team for the HudsonAlpha Foundation. Herrin works with individual and corporate donors to achieve their philanthropic goals and connect them with HudsonAlpha’s mission of improving health and well-being. In addition, she manages two of HudsonAlpha’s annual fundraising events, the Spring Benefit and the Tie the Ribbons luncheon, and leads the Ambassador program. Herrin worked in the for-profit sector prior to coming to HudsonAlpha. Her experience includes working for Nortel Networks as a senior manager in Organizational Development, as well as the Walt Disney Company where she worked in marketing and promotions. Herrin earned her MBA from Vanderbilt University.
Mary Shirley-Howell is the Director of Business Recruitment for the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. As part of the Institute’s Economic Development team, she recruits start-up, early-stage and established bioscience companies to the HudsonAlpha biotech campus. Shirley-Howell also engages with local, regional and state economic developers, national and international site selectors, and other key external partners to grow the biosciences hub at HudsonAlpha and Huntsville.
Shirley-Howell brings more than ten years of area development experience to HudsonAlpha, having served in multiple leadership roles in the Auburn University Office of Research and Economic Development. Shirley-Howell earned her Bachelors and MBA from Auburn University, and Master of Arts from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Jessica Merritt is the director of business development at HudsonAlpha. She supports multiple mission areas throughout the institute to expand the application of genomics across various industries. Merritt joined HudsonAlpha in 2015. Prior to joining the institute, she worked in medical sales and marketing. She enjoys connecting people, creating opportunities, building relationships, and delivering on promises. Merritt brings her expertise in identifying collaborative solutions that drive the adoption of cutting edge technologies. Merritt is often involved in forming a strategy, direction and ultimately laying the groundwork for successful collaborations. She is a graduate of the University of South Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
Jeff Moore joined the Institute in 2020. As a member of the advancement team, he leads annual and planned giving programs at HudsonAlpha. Jeff works with both individual and corporate donors in order to understand their philanthropic goals, while connecting them to HudsonAlpha’s mission. He is also responsible for employee giving. Moore has over 30 years of experience in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. He holds a B.S. in Human Resources Management from Ball State University.
Scott Newberry is the Director for the Software Engineering team at HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology where he leads a team of software developers, informatics architects and health informaticists. Scott has been with HudsonAlpha for more than 11 years and his team has been instrumental in developing software to analyze genomic and clinical datasets to support the interpretation of genomic data. Scott is a graduate of Auburn University.
Scott Ross is the Director of Information Technology at HudsonAlpha. He leads the operations and strategy of technology and cybersecurity to help further the missions of HudsonAlpha. Ross has over 15 years of technology experience across defense and commercial sectors He earned his B.S. in Information Systems Management from Auburn University, is an active member of the Alabama CIO Association and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Jeremy Schmutz co-directs the HudsonAlpha Genome Sequencing Center (HGSC) and also a faculty investigator. He joined the Institute in 2008. In 1996, he joined the Stanford Human Genome Center where he and his group finished and assembled the human sequence of chromosomes 5, 16 and 19 for the Human Genome Project. He also led the quality assessment of the human genome sequence that evaluated the accuracy and completeness of the final human genome sequence. He earned his BS in computer science and a BA in biology from North Central College in Naperville, IL. Click here to read Schmutz’s faculty profile.
Michael Speigle is the controller for HudsonAlpha and joined the Institute in 2013 after spending four years in public accounting. He is an experienced financial manager with a demonstrated history of working in the nonprofit accounting industry with a specialized focus in budgeting, forecasting and federal grant compliance. He earned his BS in accounting and business administration from Birmingham Southern College with a minor in finance.
Gregg Tyree is the senior director of operations at HudsonAlpha. He joined the Institute start-up team in October 2007. In his role, Tyree is responsible for all property management, including leasing, construction, cafe/vending, Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS), security, material/inventory management and furnishings. He earned his BS in business from Athens State University and his MBA from Florida Institute of Technology. Tyree is Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) and is also a Certified Facility Manager (CFM). Tyree is a member of The Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) and also serves on the board of directors for the North Alabama Chapter of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) and on the board of directors for the Community Free Clinic of Huntsville.
Julia Michaux-Watkins is the director of human resources at HudsonAlpha. She joined the Institute in 2019. Michaux brings more than 20 years of Human Resource experience, most recently with Interfuze Corporation, where she was Director of Human Resources, and previously with Torch Technologies, where she was Senior Human Resources Manager. She has extensive background in staffing and recruitment, benefits, policy development, and employee relations. She holds a B.S., Management of Human Resource from Faulkner University.
Danny Windham is the chief operating officer at HudsonAlpha. He joined the Institute in 2019 and has more than 20 years of leadership experience, serving as president and COO at Adtran (2005 – 2007) as well as CEO at Digium (2007 – 2018). Windham is actively involved in the entrepreneurial community and has supported the development of multiple startups. He also has a strong commitment to giving back to his community and serves on multiple boards including the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Biztech and Leadership Alabama. He was also chairman of the Madison YMCA fundraising committee and a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight, a nonprofit organization that provides free air transportation for individuals with any legitimate, charitable, medically related need. Windham earned his BS in Electrical Engineering from Mississippi State University, where he was named a Distinguished Engineering Fellow in 2001, and MBA from Florida Tech.
Pete Yanul leads the finance and accounting team and is responsible for all aspects of financial operations, financial analysis, modeling, budgeting, forecasting and performance management, with the goal of setting the Institute on a path toward long-term sustainability and building its reputation for transparency and operational excellence. He joined HudsonAlpha in 2014 and has more than 25 years of diverse financial management experience, having spent the last 10 years in the biotech and medical device industries. Yanul is a native New Yorker and previously served in financial leadership roles at Nektar Therapeutics and Open Biosystems/Thermo Fisher Scientific and considers his return to Huntsville, Ala., an exciting homecoming. Yanul earned his BS in accounting from Le Moyne College and MBA from Syracuse University.