Pluton Biosciences Advances Development of Novel Bioinsecticides Through Participation in Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator

Who We Are

Our team consists of scientists, entrepreneurs, technologists, and an advisory board of accomplished biology professors. Our founders include three PhD-level scientists (Genetics, Microbiology, Biochemistry), a CEO with 30 years of entrepreneurial experience, a CSO skilled at computational biology and building world-class microbial discovery pipelines, and a former CTO of a Fortune 50 company. Our talented team seeks out microbial solutions that can change the world!

Meet Our Staff

Barry Goldman, PhD

Founder, Chief Executive Officer, Board Member

Dr. Goldman is a results-driven genomic scientist and entrepreneur with a passion for developing innovative, self-directed people and teams that deliver superior results. As Chief Science Officer, Goldman develops scientific strategy for the next generation of microbial discovery at Pluton. Prior to founding Pluton, Goldman led the microbial testing pipeline for Indigo Ag and served as the Microbial Discovery Lead for Monsanto Company. He has a Bachelor of Science in Botany from the University of Washington and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Utah. He has published over 30 peer-reviewed studies and is an inventor on more than 10 patents.

Charlie Walch

Founder, Chief Business Officer, Board Member

Walch has more than 29 years of experience starting and running businesses. A lifelong entrepreneur, Walch excels at building healthy workplace cultures around a compelling vision while developing profitable market leading services. He looks forward each day to bringing Pluton’s vision – mining the power of microbes to deliver a sustainable tomorrow today – into reality. Before co-founding Pluton Biosciences and purchasing MiL, Walch founded 1st Choice Delivery, a full-service delivery company that delivers over 75,000 packages daily. He has a Bachelor of Arts in History from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.

Glen Schuster, MBA

Founder, Chief Information Officer, Board Member

Schuster is an experienced healthcare executive and entrepreneur with a demonstrated history of working in the information technology and service industries. He is skilled in data analytics, IT and business strategy, innovation, and healthcare. As CIO, Schuster leads all data management/architecture projects for the company. He served as Centene Corporation’s CIO from 2006-09 and its CTO from 2009-18. During his time at Centene, he grew the corporation’s revenue from $1 billion to $50 billion. He has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois – Urbana and a Master of Business Administration from Washington University in St. Louis – Olin Business School.

Kirk Narzinski

Founder, Chief Operating Officer

Narzinski has more than 20 years of research experience in industry and academia. He has more than 10 years of experience leading teams in molecular biology, protein science, and laboratory automation at Bayer and Monsanto. He brings to Pluton his unique blend of expertise in biology, automation, and data management, coupled with an enthusiasm for science and team building. Narzinski leads daily operations as well as facilitates the integration of our lab systems and data management efforts. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Missouri S&T in Rolla, Missouri.

Ann Guggisberg, PhD

Founder, Director of Research

Dr. Guggisberg has more than 9 years of experience in genetics, biochemistry, and microbiology research. Guggisberg co-led Pluton’s proof-of-concept discovery of novel larvicidal bacteria. Guggisberg designs research approaches for Micromining, Pluton’s discovery platform, including managing our sequencing pipeline and efforts to develop Pluton’s discoveries into viable products. Previously, she worked as a graduate intern in Insect Control at Monsanto Company and as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied the genetic and biochemical mechanisms of drug resistance in malaria. She has significant experience in scientific publishing and grant writing. Guggisberg has a Bachelor of Science in Genetics from Clemson University and a PhD in Molecular Genetics and Genomics from Washington University in St. Louis.

Diana Beckman, PhD


Dr. Beckman has more than 30 years of hands-on, field, and administrative experience in biological research. She has extensive experience in assay design in prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems, gene editing, and cloning, as well as lab safety, radiation safety, and protocol development. At Pluton, Beckman co-led Pluton’s proof-of-concept discovery of bacteria active against mosquito larvae and currently designs research approaches for Micromining.

Brian Throm, MBA

Head of Business Development

Throm has a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering from the University of Missouri, where he was named an MU Innovation Center Entrepreneurial Scholar. Throm performs business and market analysis while assisting the team in improving lab systems. Before joining Pluton/MiL, Throm worked as a Global Emerging Markets Analyst Intern for Monsanto Growth Ventures.

Elizabeth Scherer

Research Associate

Scherer holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from University of Missouri – St. Louis, where she was a research assistant in Dr. Bethany Zolman’s laboratory studying auxin metabolism in Arabidopsis. At Pluton, Scherer is responsible for DNA extraction to support soil microbiome characterization and manages pipelines to isolate microbes from soil.

Farhan William

Research Associate

William holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from University of Missouri – St. Louis. At Pluton, William is responsible for protocol development, assay implementation, and data collection to support development of Pluton’s novel mosquito larvicides.

Ben Wolf, PhD


Wolf leads Pluton’s collaboration project with global life sciences company Bayer AG to investigate the development of an all-natural, microbial-based carbon-capture soil amendment for farmers. Wolf is working to isolate new microbial strains and interacting microbial communities that can reduce the climate impact of the agriculture system in the U.S. Wolf has a PhD in Plant and Microbial Biosciences from Washington University in St. Louis, where he studied how novel microbes utilize far-red light to power oxygenic photosynthesis in the lab of Prof. Robert E. Blankenship. He also has a Bachelor of Science in Plant Biology with a Specialization in Environmental Studies from Michigan State University. In addition to his work with Pluton, Wolf is co-founder of horticultural technology company Engine 2 Photonics, LLC.

Advisory Board

Gautam Dantas, PhD

Dr. Dantas is a Professor in the Departments of Pathology & Immunology, Biomedical Engineering, and Molecular Microbiology as well as the Center for Genome Sciences & Systems Biology at Washington University. Dantas is a world expert on microbial genomics, ecology, and physiology.

Roy Welch, PhD

Dr. Welch is a Professor of Biology at Syracuse University. Welch is an expert in microbial physiology, behavior, and genomics.

Audrey Odom John, MD PhD

Dr. Odom John is Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She is an expert in microbial metabolism, drug development, and molecular biology.