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Dr. Joe Cornelius

ARPA-E Program Director Joe Cornelius

Dr. Joe Cornelius currently serves as a Program Director at the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). His focus at ARPA-E includes bioenergy production and conversion as a renewable and sustainable energy source, transportation fuel, and chemical feedstock—applying innovations in biotechnology, genomics, metabolic engineering, molecular breeding, computational analytics, remote sensing, and precision robotics to improve biomass energy density, production intensity, and environmental impact.

Cornelius spent over 30 years with Monsanto, Pfizer, and BASF during which he collaboratively discovered, developed, and commercialized more than 75 new products and transformational innovations in the agriculture, food, health, and bioenergy sectors; forged over 25 strategic alliances and global partnerships with multinationals, universities, and venture capital firms; and launched several industry-shaping business platforms, creating compelling economic, environmental, and social responsibility benefits. 

Previously, as Research and Development Executive Director and Global Product Development Vice President at Monsanto, Cornelius advanced a portfolio of new biotechnology-enhanced crops and vegetable oils that improve the nutritional quality of consumer diets and enable the energy sector to develop a platform of renewable, biodegradable, cost-effective bio-lubricants. He also championed the equity investment round in Biosynthetic Technologies, which led to commercialization and manufacturing scale up of high-performance motor oils. This initiative was nominated for the 2013 Presidential Green Chemistry Award.

Cornelius earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry from Michigan State University, B.S. in Plant Science and Genetics from the University of Delaware, M.B.A. from the University of Missouri, and Executive Management Certificate in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In addition, Cornelius has served on the American Heart Association Board of Directors, Washington University School of Medicine Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences Advisory Board, and Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, and he is actively engaged in international efforts to develop sustainable agricultural systems that provide food and energy security in the face of increasing environmental challenges and global climate change. 

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