Our team is the connection between your ideas and UB

Here is where differences become our strengths, where scientific and technological adventures transform into profitable ventures, and where bettering the world becomes our life’s work. A successful team is about more than finding a group of people with the right mix of professional skills; it's about finding a team who is passionate about helping you succeed and then working together to do it.


Rick Gardner

With more than two decades of experience in the public, private, nonprofit and startup sectors, Rick Gardner has been an innovator throughout his career. He holds 32 U.S. patents and has taken dozens of products to market.

Under Rick's leadership, the BEP team helps grow the infrastructure and support services needed to commercialize innovative research, increase industry-academic collaborations, identify expert talent, align industry expertise and advance the next generation of startups and technologies.


Shareefa Albanna

Startup Success Manager

Asal Barem

Finance & Operations Assistant

Peter Burakowski.

Peter Burakowski

Associate Director, Startup Ventures

Kimberly Chase .

Kimberly Chase

Administrative Assistant

Timothy Dee

Associate Director, Technology Transfer

Jeffrey Dunbar

Director, Technology Transfer

David Duplessis .

David DuPlessis

Business Development Associate

Esther Eagan

Senior Associate Director, Contracts

Kirsten Fischer

Digital Graphic Design Specialist

Michael Fowler

Commercialization Manager

Rick Gardner

Associate Vice President for Economic Development

Sara Goodman

Startup Program Manager

Soma Hawramee

Program & Finance Associate

Kathryn Helfer

Senior Manager, Stakeholder Engagement

Amy Herstek

Senior Manager, Contracts

Smitha James

Senior Associate Director, Finance & Program Administration

Christopher Janson

Business Development Executive

Antoinette Johnson

Finance & Operations Manager

Richard Kim.

Richard Kim

Interim Director of Startup Ventures

Kimberly Kohl

Associate Director, Finance & Operations

Tracy Krawczyk-Schiedel

Director of Marketing Communications

Rebecca Larson

Commercialization Coordinator

Adrian Levesque

Industry Engagement and Visualization, Center for Computational Research

Jennifer Mandina

Manager, Contracts

Tom Matheny

CRM Marketing Analyst

Ryan McAnany

Contracts Manager

Thomas Murdock

Manager, Incubator Network

Norma Nowak

Executive Director, Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences

Matthew Pelkey

Program Director, Entrepreneurship Law Center

Diane Plinke

Receptionist & Operational Support Assistant

Eric Poniatowski.

Eric Poniatowski

Program & Finance Manager

Alan Rae

Director, Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics

Sandra Small

Science Education Manager

Maksim Sokolov.

Maksim Sokolov

Contracts Manager

Jessica Szklany.

Jessica Szklany

Manager, Marketing Content and Writing

Sandra Talley

Startup Program Assistant

Deanna Thames

Senior Administrative Assistant

David Thiemecke

Startup Client Manager

Penny Turrell

Patent Paralegal & Compliance Specialist

Karen Utz

Director, Program Administration

Evan Witmer

Technology Assessment Specialist

Founder & CEO, Galileo Consulting

Buffalo Operations Director, Metrion Biosciences

CEO, Lighting Up Ventures

CEO, ABP Holdings LLC

HRO Strategist, Practical HRO

Independent Advisor & Consultant


Buffalo Innovation Seed Fund: Advisory Board

Strategic Finance Associate, 424 Capital

Managing General Partner, Fairhaven Capital

Founder & General Partner, VU Venture Partners

Partner, DLA Piper

COO and Co-Founder, Traverse Biotech

Managing Partner, Camber Road Partners

Partner, Softbank Capital

Buffalo Innovation Accelerator Fund: External Review Committee

Chief Executive Officer, Create a Monster (C.A.M.)™ Founder

CEO, FKM Group

President and CEO, TxMQ

Martin Graham.

CEO, Empire Discovery Institute

Director of IMCA-CAT, VP for Advancing Therapeutics

Project Engineer, Buffalo Manufacturing Works (operated by EWI)

Independent Pharmaceutical Regulatory Consultant Board of Directors, FACET Life Sciences

Director of New Ventures, The Research Foundation for SUNY (RF)

CEO, Let’s Get Started Consultancy

Senior Director Business Development, Codiak BioSciences

Program Director, Launch NY Cleantech Opportunity Incubator and Assistant Vice President Sustainability Technologies, NOCO Energy Corp

Carlos Pena.

Chief Regulatory Officer & Chief Quality Officer, The Jacobs Institute

Charles Jones.

Director, mRNA Commercial Development, Pfizer

Erica Wehling.

R&D Manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Karuna Sharma.

Vice President & Chief Scientific Officer, Antylia Scientific

Matan Rapoport.

Director, Portfolio Development & Alliance Management, Empire Discovery Institute

Michael Norsen.

Principal, Alexandria Venture Investments & Head of LaunchLabs @ Columbia

Michael Smolinki.

Senior VP, Chemical Development and Pharm Sc, Nirogy Therapeutics

Stephen Tyrpak.

Product Development & Commercialization Executive, Medical Devices & Pharmaceuticals Industries, PQE Group