ETS2017 Speakers

Thomas Haun

Executive Vice President, PrecisionHawk

Thomas Haun serves as the Executive Vice President for PrecisionHawk. Haun is a strategy, finance, and business development leader with a decade of experience building new business opportunities and identifying maneuvers from economic trends. With an undergraduate degree in Economics and Mathematics and a Harvard MBA, Haun has spent his career helping multi-billion dollar companies grow partnerships, improve financials, and generate successful new business efforts. At PrecisionHawk, Haun focuses on strategic relationships, corporate development, and ecosystem approach.

Topic: Thomas is the keynote speaker for this year’s event.

Lindene Patton

Independent Expert / Consultant, Earth & Water Group

Lindene is a highly-respected, innovative and strategic leader with significant experience in identification and capture of strategic revenue opportunities, corporate advocacy, operational risk, compliance, creative claims resolution; sustainability; and resilience.

Topic: Lindene will be discussing a few cases where environmental data gathering is happening by use of drones to collect data on fugitive gas emissions at facilities, the use of sensors at fixed-position locations to calculate not just point values but CO2 volume and flux, and how these technologies are everywhere, even in EZ Pass toll booths to check for your own car tailpipe emissions.

Tom Snyder

Executive Director, NC RIoT

Tom is Executive Director of NC RIoT, a non-profit supporting Internet of Things and disruptive technology industry growth. He is co-instructor in Product Innovation Lab, a Forbes award winning multi-disciplinary course in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at NC State.

Prior to joining RIoT, Tom held an executive leadership role at the ASSIST Center, a National Science Foundation sponsored effort to create wearable electronics for healthcare monitoring. Previously, he spent two decades in product development and technology incubation in NC.

He’s passionate about creating and fostering collaborations across disciplines, markets and cultures. He enjoys the outdoors, woodworking, boardgames, big crowds, craft beer and ideas that are just crazy enough to work.

Topic: Tom believes that economic opportunities in the Internet of Things are often hyped, and that you need to pay attention to it and believe the hype. The IoT will have a profound impact on environmental management, policy, and applications. Tom will speak about a few of these opportunities, and how you too can start applying these new technologies within your own area of expertise.

Stephen Cole

President and CEO, Concrete Data

Stephen is President and CEO of Concrete Data, a Triangle-based software development company.  Concrete Data builds innovative web and mobile applications for companies in asset-intensive industries, including shipping, commercial construction, healthcare delivery and biomedical research; public utilities; and state and local government agencies that manage public infrastructure.

Before founding Concrete Data in 2012, Stephen led software development teams for Microsoft and for several Triangle-based startup companies.  His experience includes applications for schedule optimization, financial management, cost/schedule integration, project and contract controls, geospatial visualization, and more. 

Topic:  Stephen will present a case study of UI techniques in a modern Web application used to manage berth schedules for commercial seaports.  This app introduces several novel types of visualizations and user interactions to supplement familiar map-based UI: schematic visualizations for optimizing usage of time and space, task and event categorization, drilldown/page-flip metaphors as techniques for navigating hierarchical data, and collaborative techniques that apply social media constructs to business applications.  The nine commercial ports in Hawaii use this app to optimize schedules and berth usage, reduce vessel fuel consumption, and coordinate pier-side service providers.

Jesko Von Windheim

Professor of the Practice, Duke University

Dr. von Windheim is a technology entrepreneur who is focused primarily on early-stage innovations in the physical sciences. He has played a key role in a number of manufacturing companies based on new materials, processes and functionality. He helped form Unitive Electronics, which was later acquired by Amkor and remains a leader in its field. He was a co-founder of Cronos Integrated Microsystems, a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) company. Cronos was acquired by JDS Uniphase. Dr. von Windheim was also CEO of Nextreme Thermal Solutions. He founded Nextreme in 2004 with technology acquired from RTI International and licensed from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Nextreme was acquired by Laird Technologies in 2012. A current project is Zenalux ( which is commercializing technology developed at Duke University that uses white light to measure response to therapy and diagnose disease such as cancer.

Topic: Earth Lab – What a sustainable innovation ecosystem for environmental applications looks like.  Technology solutions in clean energy and sustainability are considered to be fundamental to our very survival; however, efforts to develop these solutions through traditional investment from both the public and the private sector have not lived up to their promise. The Duke Translational Partnership (DTP) is an endowment-based technology investment model that makes modest ($100,000 – $300,000) investments in product prototypes with the goal of establishing external validation and stable sources of follow on funding. The application of this model to environmental applications will be discussed with case-study data and examples.

Scott Ensign, Ph.D.

Co-Founder and CEO, Planktos Instruments, LLC

Scott is an environmental scientist and entrepreneur. He co-founded Planktos Instruments in 2013 and Aquatic Analysis and Consulting, LLC, in 2005. He researches river and estuary water quality and has held research fellowships at UNC Chapel Hill and the US Geological Survey in Reston, VA. He is currently a faculty member at NC State University investigating water quality in the Cape Fear River.

Topic: Planktos Instruments was recently awarded a Seed Grant from NC IDEA to commercialize its patent-pending river water quality drifter. The drifter solves a common problem scientists have measuring water quality in rivers, and it reduces the cost of routine measurements. Scott will present current and future applications of the drifter that integrate mapping technologies and drones to solve water quality problems.

Josh Miller

CEO, Farmshots

Josh Miller is the CEO of Farmshots, a company he founded and which analyzes satellite and drone imagery of farms to provide insights to farmers.  Their software visually maps out potential signs of diseases, pests, and poor nutrition of croplands by analyzing the color spectrum of satellite imagery data.  It’s imagery turns into a prescription map for changes in fertilizer application, allowing a farmer to apply fertilizer and nutrients to only those areas and crops needing it.  This is done by downloading its map data and fertilizer application changes directly to a tractor’s computer.  This in turn cuts fertilizer costs by as much as 40%, and also significantly reduces non-point source pollution runoff.

Topic: Josh will be demonstrating his company’s software platform, and how some of his clients—including the Government of Argentina— are using it to improve farm operations, lower fertilizer application costs, and reduce nutrient pollution into waterways.

Shawn Gagné

Founder and CEO, Urban Offsets

Shawn Gagné is the Founder and CEO of Urban Offsets, a startup that uses community tree planting projects to reduce University Scope 3 emissions and help them reach their carbon neutrality goals. Communities across the US have planted over 10,000 trees and reduced over 5,400 tons of emissions for Duke, Elon, Davidson College, and Arizona State University in the last 4 months. Shawn is a graduate of the Groundwork Labs accelerator program in Durham NC, was awarded an NC Idea grant in 2015, and completed his first Seed Angel round in October 2016. Shawn holds an M.Sc in Environmental Science from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and worked as an environmental consultant before that.

Topic: Six hundred University and College Presidents across the country publicly declared their commitment to run carbon neutral schools this century. Altogether, these schools emit about 38 million tons of CO2 each year. And while most of them have started to address their carbon footprints through energy reduction and responsible sourcing, fewer than 5% have planned to address 30% of their problem. Urban Offsets helps these Universities address travel-related emissions using Goal-Based giving programs. Through its CarbonHUB platform, Urban Offsets is currently helping two Universities in North Carolina reduce their carbon footprint using community tree planting projects.

Sly Barisic

Founder & CEO, FotoIN Mobile

Sly Barisic is the Founder and CEO of FotoIN Mobile, a company he founded which provides a mobile first, patent-pending technology that automates business photo documentation process end-to-end and provides visual verification of completed field work through embedded field data within photos and forms.  Sly is originally from Croatia, where he led several technology investments.

Topic: Sly will be demonstrating his company’s photo software platform, and how AECOM and others have used it to streamline the process of photo documentation at environmental project sites.

Troy Bernier

Doctoral Candidate, Florida Atlantic University

Mr. Bernier is from New York City and has a B.S. degree in Geology from the City University of New York at York College. He moved to North Carolina and earned an M.S. degree in Geology from UNC, Chapel Hill. Mr. Bernier has worked in various areas of Earth Sciences, and Technology. He worked as a hydrologic technician with the USGS National Water Quality Assessment Program and as a Hydrologist in Miami, FL. After five years, he changed to the private sector as a field seismic data processor for Western Geophysical completing numerous African and European Union surveys. He used his international and innovation experience in the start-up Ekoplc, S.L. where he was a co-founder and Chief Technology Officer. After a few short years, Mr. Bernier returned his focus toward projects and business development in the USA and Asia. Mr. Bernier’s passion still being science he decided to help the U.S. Geological Survey on several water supply projects with his expertise on instrumentation, programming and his understanding of earth systems. After a few years, he was asked to present some of his research at the American Geophysical Union Annual Conference and has been active every year. Currently, Mr. Bernier is a doctoral candidate in Geosciences at Florida Atlantic University with a specialization on stable water isotopes for developing new methods for validating evapotranspiration estimates with water isotopes

Topic: The optimization of post-run corrections from oxygen and hydrogen stable isotope measurements of water by isotope ratio infrared spectroscopy – A walk through.  Stable isotope analyses of hydrogen and oxygen of water are becoming popular due to the availability of low-cost instrumentation. This advantage has produced an abundant number of applications in Isotope Hydrology. This presentation is a step by step discussion using the Van Geldren and Barth (2012) paper. The data evaluations will illustrate corrections needed for instrument set-up, memory, and calibration. There will be several examples and illustrations as part of the discussion.

Everette “Rett” Newton (Col. USAF-Retired)

Program Manager, Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing (MaRRS) Lab – Duke Marine Lab

Rett Newton retired as a Colonel from the US Air Force in 2011 following a 28-year career that included leading-edge engineering, F-15E Strike Eagle leadership, and assignments as an Arabic foreign area officer. Rett entered the Air Force in 1982 after earning a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics at Campbell University. Following Officer Training School, he completed a second Bachelor of Science degree in the Air Force Institute of Technology electrical engineering program.

Rett’s follow-on assignments included a staff tour at Headquarters Tactical Air Command in the Electronic Warfare Directorate, F-4E/G Wild Weasel flying in the Philippines, and F-15E Strike Eagle flying based primarily in North Carolina. He held numerous fighter squadron positions, to include instructor, flight examiner, operations officer, and commander. He completed two tours in Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Southern Watch, and was selected as an initial cadre instructor for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia F-15S program. In 2002, Rett was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Pacific Command as the Chief of the Current Operations Air Branch where he was a key leader in the execution of enhanced Pacific air defense programs, and support for the largest disaster relief operation in history following the 2004 tsunami in Asia.

Rett served a tour as the United States Air Attaché in Cairo, Egypt followed by an assignment as the Director of Theater Security Cooperation for United States Air Forces Central Command. In this capacity, he was responsible for development and execution of security cooperation activities in a 16-nation area of responsibility covering the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and Central/South Asia.

During his military career, Rett logged approximately 3,500 flight hours in T-41, T-37, T-38, F-4, F-15, and C-12 aircraft. In retirement, he has continued his passion for aviation by designing, building, operating and maintaining unmanned aircraft systems with autopilot, high definition cameras, datalink, and first person view. Rett joined the Duke University Marine Laboratory team in June 2015, serving as initial cadre and Program Manager for the Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing Lab, and he is now a first-year PhD student in Duke’s Marine Science and Conservation program.

Topic: Drones in Marine Science…an Amazing Intersection of Science and Technology!  Two years ago, the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC designed and developed a facility specifically dedicated to Marine Robotics and Remote Sensing (MaRRS). Since declaring their initial operational capability, the MaRRS team has conducted extensive coastal research in eastern North Carolina, but has also surveyed marine debris in Hawaii, olive ridley sea turtles in Costa Rica, gray seals in Massachusetts and Canada, right whales off the coast of Florida, Etruscan and Roman archeological sites in Italy, WWI shipwrecks along the Potomac River, and (most recently) whales, seals, and penguins in Antarctica. The Duke MaRRS presentation will highlight numerous platforms, sensors, and applications that will inspire the audience to develop their own maritime (or terrestrial) drone projects using rapidly emerging drone technologies and Duke University’s lessons learned.

Alan Grosheider

CEO, Blue 222

Mr. Grosheider has been active in the engineering and environmental fields since graduating from Purdue with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. In 1994, he started an environmental firm, ESA1, which grew to perform services in every single state with employees throughout the U.S. The company was one of the first in the country to be operated entirely on an intranet system, fully integrating sales, project management, accounting, and other functions.

Mr. Grosheider now leads a company called Blue222 that is building a national platform for real estate due diligence services. By allowing hiring firms and due diligence contractors to work together more easily, the company is making the entire $20+ billion industry more efficient and profitable.

Topic: Companies like Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb are dramatically changing the way we function in the world and increasingly dominating traditional businesses. So why have engineering and environmental firms not kept up the pace of innovation?

  • Why this change is inevitable
  • Where the world of technology is headed
  • How can you get on the bus before it’s too late!

Jason Hare (APM, GAIQ)

Open Data Evangelist, OpenDataSoft

Named one of the top 100 global influencers in Government Technology in 2017. Jason serves as the Open Data Evangelist for OpenDataSoft. He has worked in the public sector and in data dissemination for most of his 25 year career.  Jason is a frequent participant at the White House OSTP on the subjects of data quality and open data, with projects spanning the Western Hemisphere, including: Town of Chapel Hill; Durham City and County; Durham Public Schools; City of Raleigh; Ireland’s Ministry of Reform, Colombia’s Ministry of Information and Communications, The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

TopicOpen Data and Air Pollution: A Powerful Tool in the Struggle for Cleaner Air.  Low-cost sensors, mobile apps, and open data platforms are helping citizens, researchers and policy-makers alike better understand the nature, impact and state of air quality around the corner and around the globe.  Jason will be sharing some of the technology advancements being used today in this effort.

Peter Schulert

CEO, ESC Lab Sciences

Peter joined ESC in 1987 after the completion of his service with the US Navy. During his 5 years in the Navy, Lt. Schulert qualified as Officer of the Deck in Submarines. This qualification included supervision of nuclear reactor and power plant operations. He assumed operating responsibility from ESC Founder, Dr. Arthur Schulert in 1990. His vision for automation and client service has been a key component of ESC’s march to the top ranks of our industry. He coordinates IT resources to maximize both value-added services to our clients and internal automation. Under his leadership, ESC has developed industry-leading, on-line data management tools for our clients. Peter also leads our corporate social responsibility initiatives, which have resulted in significant reductions in solvent, paper and energy usage. More recently, Peter committed ESC to introducing Reduced Volume technology to our industry. Reduced Volume technology eliminates over 98% of the extraction solvent while providing better recovery and significant savings to our clients in field collection. ESC is currently the largest single-location environmental laboratory in the US. ESC is the only laboratory certified throughout the US from a single location.

Topic: Making the EPA prep method 5035 for VOCs more sustainable and reproducible using the latest GC/MS technology.  Peter will explain how these changes will make it easier to collect VOC soil samples in the field and will require less sample and fewer containers (hint: you will only need to collect 1 methanol vial instead of 2 stir bar vials plus 1 methanol vial).  These changes will also eliminate the variability of the sample across multiple containers.

Scot Cocanour

Chief Executive Officer, Promium, LLC

Scot is the CEO of Promium and in charge of all departments except Software Development. The company’s flagship product, Element LIMS is used daily by thousands of analysts, chemists and managers in over 250 facilities in North and South America and Asia. Promium has been expanding Element’s footprint to include environmental, water/wastewater, air, industrial hygiene, food testing laboratories, and cannabis labs to its scientific disciplines. With the launch of EnviroChain, Promium is positioned to become the preeminent publisher of electronic chain-of-custody software.


Jess Ekstrom

Founder & CEO, Headbands of Hope

Jess is the founder and CEO of Headbands of Hope, a company she started as a junior in college in 2012. For every headband sold, a headband is given to a child with cancer. The company has been featured on the TODAY Show, Vanity Fair, Seventeen, Good Morning America and more. But more importantly, they’ve donated over 100,000 headbands to every children’s hospital in the United States and 6 countries. Jess is also a professional speaker, author, and writer for Entrepreneur and The Huffington Post.

Topic:Through her entrepreneurial journey, Jess has become passionate about helping others discover meaningful work. Meaningful work isn’t about sacrificing your life for a cause or finding your ‘calling.’ It’s about finding overlap between your talents, the impact you want to have, and the life you want to live.

Don Piper

Advisor, Various Entities

Don is an expert and passionate entrepreneur, with a record of launching more than 70 successful businesses; creator of the MBA capstone Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship course at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute.

Topic: A Total Systems Thinking approach to:

  • reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere
  • and with it acidity in the oceans
  • water and air temp
  • and cleaning up dead zones
  • while producing enough renewable fuels to replace fossil fuels and
  • feed the planet using no fresh water

Through the use of managed seaweed forests.

Dwight Seal

Western District Manager, NC Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Dwight currently serves as the Western District Manager with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. His duties are supervising field inspectors, case development and enforcement. Dwight has worked for NCDA&CS in pesticide regulation for 30 years. He has experience in structural pest and agricultural pesticide regulation. Dwight holds B.S. and M.A. Biology degrees from Appalachian State University. Dwight’s area of interest includes the use of technology and how it can be utilized in the field of agriculture, and his work for the Department of Agriculture. Dwight successfully lead his team through the complexity of selecting and implementing a mobile data collection solution for their field staff.

Topic: Dwight will be discussing his Department’s move from a traditional pen to paper system to the modern electronic data capture mobile form needs, including routing and approval steps, integration, user management, offline syncing and data replication, and data security. He will also discuss the workflow that entails this system and how data is retrieved for regulatory purposes.

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