An advisor to Benson Hill in varying capacities since 2013, Jon has been an active member of the Scientific Advisory Board since its founding.
He has published more than 30 peer reviewed scientific publications in international journals, including high-impact publications in the fields of plant defense response and communication, seed oil metabolism and the application of gene editing in agricultural systems. Dr. Lightner is an inventor on over 50 issued patents and applications.
Prior to retiring to farm full time, Jon was Chief Scientific Officer for Genus PLC, a FTSE 250 business that provides genetic improvement for livestock farmers producing pork, beef and milk. Prior to joining Genus, he spent 10 years at Pioneer Hi-Bred International, during the time it was a wholly owned DuPont business, where he held a variety of roles including Vice President for Biotechnology across crops and geographies. He joined Pioneer from Agritope Incorporated, where he held his first executive role, as Director for Biochemical Genomics, a publicly traded Ag Biotech Startup in Portland, Oregon, which was subsequently acquired and became Exelixis Plant Sciences (EPS). He started his career in Central Research and Development at DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware, working on plant seed metabolism and progressing to a principal investigator role working on food quality in corn.
Since leaving Genus in 2019, Jon has provided consulting services to agribusinesses in crops and livestock. In 2020 he became Executive Chairman of the Board for the Wheatsheaf Group Company, Synomics Ltd, a computational insight business that partners with agricultural businesses to translate unique insights into biological data sets. Today Jon and his wife Amanda produce artisanal farmstead sheep cheese on 100 acres of permanently preserved farmland in southern Wisconsin.
Jon holds a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology (Molecular Genetic Emphasis) from Washington State University, an MBA from the University of Iowa, a Masters in Engineering (Systems Emphasis) from Iowa State University, and a BS in Biology (Chemistry emphasis) from York College.