Syngenta Operations Research Seminar and Award Ceremony

Friday, November 13, 2015

Iowa State University

Syngenta has successfully applied operations research to soybean breeding to make genetic improvement and development of plant cultivars more efficient. While advanced analytics enable discoveries in complex biological and social networks, operations research employs advanced analytics to translate discoveries through rationale design of efficient and effective systems. It has transformed the way packages are delivered, trains and airplanes are kept on schedule and supply chains are optimized.

For their efforts, the Syngenta team has won the prestigious 2015 Franz Edelman Award presented by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). The Syngenta team is led by Joseph Byrum ('99 PhD plant breeding), global head of soybean seeds and traits R&D.

You are invited to a special set of events to learn more about transformative research in genetic improvement by a scientific team from Syngenta, consisting of several Iowa State alumni and students. The events celebrate national recognition of the team's accomplishments.

Event Registration:

Formal registration to attend the afternoon moderated discussions is not required.

Please RSVP for the dinner by November 5, 2015. Business dress for the dinner is requested.


Friday, November 13, Scheman Building, Room 004

1:10-1:45 p.m.


Edelman Prize Information, Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences (INFORMS)

  • Melissa Moore, Executive Director, INFORMS

Moderated Discussion: Roles of Big Data and Advanced Analytics in Transforming Plant Breeding in to an Engineering Discipline

  • Moderator: Lisa Prassack, President, Prassack Advisors
  • Panelists:
    • Joe Byrum, Head Seeds Product Development, Soybean-Syngenta
    • Tracy Doubler, Head Genetic Breeding Projects, Soybean-Syngenta
    • Bill Beavis, George F. Sprague Chair and Professor of Agronomy, Iowa State University
    • Lizhi Wang, Associate Professor, Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, Iowa State University
    • Jack Kloeber, Principal, KROMITE
1:45-2:45 p.m.

Good Growth Through Advanced Analytics: Syngenta’s Innovations in Plant Breeding Using Data Analytics and Operations Research

  • Panelists:
    • Joe Byrum, Head Seeds Product Development, Soybean-Syngenta
    • Tracy Doubler, Head Genetic Breeding Projects, Soybean-Syngenta
    • Jack Kloeber, Principal, KROMITE
2:45-3 p.m. Break
3-3:30 p.m.

Moderated Discussion: Potential Impacts of Data Analytics and Operations Research and Management on Plant Breeding Industry

  • Moderator: Lisa Prassack, President, Prassack Advisors
  • Panelists:
    • Baskar Ganapathysubramanian, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, Iowa State University
    • Sarah Nusser, Vice President for Research, Iowa State University
    • Matt Darr, Associate Professor, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University
    • Surya Mallapragada, Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Iowa State University
    • David Muth, Senior Vice President, AgSolver
    • Joe Byrum, Head Seeds Product Development, Soybean-Syngenta
3:30-3:45 p.m. Break
3:45-4:45 p.m. Discussion: Post-Doc and Graduate Student Career Development


Friday, November 13, ISU Alumni Center, Reiman Ballroom

5:30-6:15 p.m. Dinner, RSVP and Business Dress Requested
6:15 p.m. Edelman Prize Recognition Program



Joseph Byrum, Global Head of Soybean Seeds and Traits R&D, Syngenta. Byrum leads global soybean breeding, trait research and product development, which delivers improved genetics and trait technologies for soybean growers. He has extensive global experience in plant genetics and biotechnology. Byrum has been actively involved in soybean research for 20 years, spanning genetics, genomics, breeding, physiology, compositional analysis, grain origination and end-user applications. Since joining Syngenta in 2006, he has held a variety of roles in Syngenta's organizations. Most recently he led the Global Scouting and Acquisition team responsible global innovation initiatives. Byrum obtained his MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Michigan State University. He earned his doctorate in plant breeding and genetics from the Iowa State University.

Tracy Doubler, Head Genetic Breeding Projects, Soybean, Syngenta. Doubler joined Syngenta via the Garst Seed Company in 1996. During his time with Syngenta he held several positions including: genotyping lab manager, soy genetic information manager and global head of soy genetic projects before transitioning to his current role in January 2013. Doubler has formal training in project management and received his Project Management Professional (PMP) certification in 2010. He has been actively involved in agricultural crop research for over 20 years, obtaining both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. degree in plant breeding at Iowa State University.

Jack Kloeber, Principal, KROMITE. Kloeber is a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel with experience in research and development portfolio management, decision analysis, modeling and simulation, technology selection and strategy development. Kloeber taught mathematics at West Point for three years, and graduate level decision analysis, systems simulation, and technology selection for six years at the Air Force Institute of Technology. His work has supported decisions for various superfund sites within the Department of Energy, and many technology organizations within the Departments of Army, Air Force, and Navy. Kloeber was the head of portfolio management for Bristol-Myers Squibb and then at J&J Pharma Services where he coordinated the portfolio management efforts across multiple research and development and marketing operating companies. Kloeber was a Senior Partner at KROMITE for five years prior to current role. He received his master's degree in industrial engineering from Lehigh University, and doctorate in economic decision analysis from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Kloeber is a member and President-elect of the Society of Decision Professionals, a member of the Decisions Analysis Society, and a 25-year member of INFORMS.

Bill Beavis, George F. Sprague Chair and Professor of Agronomy, Iowa State University. Beavis joined the faculty at Iowa State University in 2007. He teaches graduate courses in applied statistics, molecular plant breeding and advanced plant breeding. His research interests are focused on optimization of the plant breeding process and genetic limits to crop improvements. Beavis is most often cited for his discovery of bias in estimates of genetic effects in QTL analyses of populations with poor power (the "Beavis Effect").  Prior to his current role, Beavis served for 12 years with DuPont Pioneer, gaining extensive experience in the application of statistical genetic methods. Following his career at DuPont Pioneer, Beavis served in senior executive roles at the National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR), a private bioinformatics research institute. While at NCGR Beavis was the principal investigator for a variety of bioinformatics projects. He received his bachelor's degree in range management fron Humboldt State University, his master's degree in interdisciplinary biology-statistics from New Mexico State University and his doctorate in plant breeding from Iowa State University.