In the university environment, where ideas take shape and discoveries are born, there’s a
crucial intersection where theory transitions into tangible solutions prepared for market.
Providing support as this transition gains momentum are the Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) at
Iowa State University.

Charged with serving as the driving force behind innovation, guiding research from inception to
real-world impact, Nadilia Gomez and Mike Roof are lending decades of experience in moving
products from the lab table to the marketplace. And these forward-thinking leaders relish their
respective roles helping to steer the Office of the Vice President of Research toward a future
filled with groundbreaking advancements.

Nadilia Gomez: Orchestrating Agricultural Advancements through Entrepreneurship
In the landscape of agricultural technology, Nadilia Gomez has earned a reputation for driving
innovation in the space that connects academia and entrepreneurship. Trained as a plant
breeder and geneticist, Gomez’s trajectory links scientific rigor and entrepreneurial acumen.
“As a CTO, my mandate transcends the boundaries of academia,” Gomez says. “It’s about more
than just creating products. It’s about revolutionizing the agricultural landscape.”

At the heart of Gomez’s vision lies a commitment to bridging a diverse range of agricultural
disciplines while fostering a culture of entrepreneurship. Her role as CTO encompasses a wide
array of responsibilities, from building collaborative partnerships to providing strategic guidance
to budding entrepreneurs.

Central to Gomez’s approach is a commitment to driving collaborative innovation. This shift
from the traditional approach to university-based research puts an emphasis on working
together across disciplines with diverse stakeholders instead of focusing exclusively on
individual accomplishments and developments. With this emphasis, Gomez envisions a future
where academia and industry work together to drive agricultural advancements that have the
potential to change the world.

And while they are working to change the world, Gomez and those she works with are having a
big impact right here at home.

“It is well known that there is a gap between the productivity of scientific endeavors and their
ability to create impact at scale in the lives of consumers,” Gomez says. “Being able to augment
the impact of these developments while creating new enterprises that build upon the science is
an important way we are bringing economic development to the state.”

“And I think it’s super critical for the university to be part of economic development efforts.”
Michael Roof: Forging Pathways in Biotechnology and Beyond

When it comes to biotechnology, Michael Roof has a long and successful track record with a
journey emblematic of the symbiotic relationship between academia and industry. A graduate
of Iowa State University, Roof’s experience in microbiology led to a prolific career spanning
more than two decades in the commercial space.

“My role is about more than just providing support to those on the verge of scientific
breakthroughs,” Roof says. “My job is to work with those making the breakthroughs and helping
them translate those discoveries into tangible solutions that have a place in the market.”
As the designated CTO for vaccines, diagnostics, and immunotherapeutics, Roof’s oversight
extends far beyond the confines of traditional research. His multifaceted role encompasses a
spectrum of responsibilities, from fostering industry-ready research to nurturing early-stage
startups and forging strategic alliances with established enterprises.

“It’s about cultivating an ecosystem conducive to innovation,” Roof says. “We’re not just
creating products; we’re shaping the future of biotechnology.”

Central to Roof’s vision is an emphasis on workforce development, which has served as a
cornerstone of his tenure as CTO. Through targeted initiatives aimed at empowering graduate
students and facilitating their transition into the industry, Roof envisions a future where talent
flourishes and innovation thrives.

“By investing in our human capital, we’re sowing the seeds for a brighter tomorrow,” Roof says.
Collaborating to Shape Tomorrow

As Iowa State University charts a course that emphasizes innovation and entrepreneurship, the
visionary leadership of Roof and Gomez remains pivotal in accelerating progress. Together, they
bring a shared vision of collaborative innovation, and have had early success in leveraging their
collective expertise to propel research from the laboratory bench to the marketplace.
“Innovation knows no boundaries,” Roof says, “and it thrives on collaboration.”
Gomez agrees.

“Every year we get a larger number of interested faculty, graduate students and staff who are
reaching out and asking, ‘How can I make this possible as a venture?’,” Gomez adds. “It is very
difficult to imagine that a single person can cover such breadth of innovation happening at Iowa
State. So, the most effective way to do it is to string together multiple skills, different
individuals, multiple units that are experts in their specific areas.”

Both Gomez and Roof also agree that they feel honored to serve in a role that has the honor of
helping drive innovation across the university.

“It’s exciting to be so involved in something like this that is just in the beginning stages,” Gomez
says. “But I won’t lie. There’s a lot of impatience. I want to see those outcomes right away. Every
small taste of success just motivates us to keep on working for more.”