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BIO Announces 2022 Impact Awards

November 3, 2022
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Awards Recognize Innovators in Agricultural, Environmental and Industrial Biotechnology


The Biotechnology Innovation Organization today announced Dr. Annie Tsong, chief strategy & product officer at Amyris, as the winner of this year’s Rosalind Franklin Award for Leadership in Industrial Biotechnology and Agriculture, and announced Dr. Robert Kennedy, chief scientific officer at Vestaron, as the winner of the 2022 George Washington Carver Award for Innovation in Industrial Biotechnology and Agriculture. Collectively known as the Impact awards, the awards honor leaders who are driving cutting-edge, sustainable breakthroughs in agricultural, environmental and industrial biotechnology.


BIO presents the Rosalind Franklin Award to a pioneering woman who is leading today’s innovations in agriculture, food systems, sustainable energy and biobased manufacturing.

The George Washington Carver Award recognizes individuals who have advanced biotech innovation to make supply chains greener and have worked successfully toward that goal in the private sector, government or academia. The George Washington Carver Award is sponsored by the Iowa Biotechnology Association (IowaBio).


“BIO Impact award winners are leaders in advancing the bioeconomy,” said Rachel King, interim president and CEO of BIO. “Both Dr. Annie Tsong and Dr. Robert Kennedy are doing groundbreaking work that demonstrates biotechnology’s revolutionary potential to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. BIO is proud to recognize these two game-changers in biotechnology, and we thank IowaBio for sponsoring this year’s George Washington Carver Award.”


Under Dr. Tsong’s leadership, Amyris has developed a biotech-based fermentation technology to efficiently convert feedstocks into products and ingredients from vitamin E and squalene to flavors and fragrances. Her work helps the planet by developing biotech-based alternatives to ingredients from limited or vulnerable natural sources.


“At Amyris, we use biotechnology to make abundant what is finite,” Tsong explained. She said her company’s advances would not be possible without the work of Rosalind Franklin, who is renowned for her work to map the molecular structure of DNA in the 1950s.


Tsong said the honor of receiving the Rosalind Franklin Award puts her in good company with distinguished women who have made advances in industrial biotechnology.


“Science is never a solo pursuit,” Tsong said. “We build and we build on the hard-won discoveries of the scientists that came before us and the scientists that we work side by side with every day to create something of lasting impact in the world.”


Throughout the last 20 years, there have been sporadic, unsuccessful attempts to develop peptides as insecticides. Led by Dr. Kennedy, researchers at Vestaron have overcome cost, regulatory and delivery challenges, leading to innovative new biopesticides.


Kennedy said his company’s work embodies the legacy of celebrated agricultural scientist George Washington Carver, who worked to conserve and improve soils through crop rotation.  


“At Vestaron we harness the power of peptides to lead a revolution in crop protection,” Kennedy said. “We provide growers with the novel technologies that overcome resistance issues while being safe for the environment and workers.”


Watch the following videos to learn more about BIO’s Impact awards and this year’s impressive award winners.


BIO Impact Awards—Rosalind Franklin


BIO Impact Awards—George Washington Carver

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