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Richard Jefferson

Chief Executive Officer, The Lens

Raised in Silicon Valley when it was mostly orchards, Jefferson received a BA in Molecular Genetics from the College of Creative Studies of the University of California and PhD in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado. During a NIH Postdoc at the Plant Breeding Institute in Cambridge UK, he developed and openly distributed the most widely used biotechnology for plants and agriculture, pioneering biological Open Source, and conducted the world's first biotech crop release (1987), beating Monsanto by one day. He became the first Molecular Biologist for United Nations (FAO & IAEA) and founder & CEO of Cambia, a global social enterprise focused on democratizing science- and technology-enabled problem solving (STEPS). From 1989-1994, based largely on his work on microbial metabolism of hormones, Jefferson developed the Hologenome Theory of Evolution. At Cambia, funded by foundations and governments, and through open, tiered licensing of technology, Jefferson launched the Biological Open Source (BiOS) Initiative, and Patent Lens - the first open, full text global patent search. Jefferson was appointed Professor of Biological Innovation at the Queensland University of Technology in 2009 and seconded to Cambia to further develop The Lens - the definitive open, global web platform for innovation cartography, and for mapping and enabling science and technology capabilities for public benefit. Lens.org, the public benefit corporation spun run by Cambia, is now the longest continually operating free, open and secure patent and scholarly search facility in the world, having been in continuous operation as a public good for more than 18 years. Jefferson has received awards including being named to the Scientific American List of the 50 Most Influential Technologists, the Inaugural Medallist of Center for Science Policy & Outcomes, and the American Society of Plant Biology Public Service Award. His interests are in music (mandolin, choro, guitar, new acoustic) juggling, evolution, the hologenome and microbiomes, open innovation systems, intellectual property, farming and wilderness.