Speakers and Moderators

Daniel Duncan, Past President, AURP; Executive Director, Nebraska Innovation Campus, University of NebraskaDaniel J. Duncan

Dan Duncan is the executive director of Nebraska Innovation Campus. He began his tenure with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1987 when he accepted the positions of operations manager at the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, NE. In 1991, he was named director of the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center near Mead, Nebraska followed by being named assistant director of the Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station, then in 2008, he accepted the position of assistant dean and director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Agricultural Research Division. In 2011, Dan moved into his current position as executive director of the Nebraska Innovation Campus Development Corporation.

Dan was born on a diversified farm and ranch in Sioux County, Nebraska. He attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated with a Master of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics-Agribusiness, and Bachelor of Science Degrees in Animal Science and Agronomy all from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a LEAD VII Fellow and member of the Nebraska Hall of Ag Achievement and the Agricultural Builders of Nebraska.

Mason Ailstock, Past President, AURP; Senior Principal, HR&A Advisors

With more than 15 years’ experience working with education institutions, governments and private industry, Mason Ailstock has a proven track record of converging real estate, academia and business activities to advance communities of innovation. Prior to joining HR&A, Mason served as Vice President of Operations at The University Financing Foundation (TUFF), a private operating foundation created to provide research facilities and equipment to non-profit educational organizations.

Prior to joining TUFF, Mason served as Chief Operating Officer of the 7,000-acre (2,833-hectare) Research Triangle Park (RTP). Prior to his leadership at RTP, Mason served as the Real Estate and Global Partner Manager at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research. Mason played key roles in the master plan execution and real estate transactions of the 250-acre (101-hectare) research campus, accounting for $250,000,000 USD in investments, over 500,000 sqft of LEED Certified multi-tenant, research and academic space. In 2016 Mason was awarded the prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship where he traveled to Sweden and Saudi Arabia researching the development of university-anchored innovation districts.

Mason is a Past President of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP), Co-Chairman of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) University Development and Innovation Council, a member of the Atlanta ULI Center for Leadership, and the Global Eisenhower Fellowships Network.

Jonathon Bates, Executive Director, Real Estate Administration & Research Park, University of Utah Research Park

Jonathon Bates is the Executive Director for Real Estate Administration for the University of Utah with responsibility for the development of strategic initiatives to manage the University's real estate transactions. With responsibility for supporting the academic institution, as well as the University Health system, Jonathon is actively involved in leading real estate transactional work including management of a lease portfolio representing over 1.5 million square feet and close to $35M in annual obligations. Additionally, Jonathon oversees a property management and operations team that currently manages sixteen properties totaling over one million square feet of office, lab and clinical space. Jonathon also acts as director for the University of Utah Research Park and has goals to update the Park's Master Plan, Mobility Plan and Architectural Guide with a focus towards further development, densification and, most importantly, increasing the financial contribution that the Park continues to make for the University of Utah and the State of Utah. The University of Utah Research Park encompasses 320 acres and is currently home to over 51 private companies and 81 University entities totaling over 14,000 employees located in over 4 million square feet of space with another 400,000 square feet under construction or in final design. Jonathon has an Executive MBA from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.

Brian Darmody, JD, Chief Executive Officer, Association of University Research Parks (AURP)

Brian Darmody was announced AURP CEO in February 2019. In this new role Brian will lead AURP into new initiatives including expanding membership, international partnerships and funding in order to build out additional member benefits.  Over the course of the year, Brian will be winding down his activities at UMD where he currently serves as Associate Vice President (AVP) of Corporate Engagement at the University of Maryland (UMD). At UMD, Brian  is responsible for developing the overall university strategy for corporate relationships, as well as the development of projects and policies to support these initiatives centrally and through the colleges and schools on campus of the University of Maryland.

Previously, he was the University’s AVP for Corporate and Foundation Relations in the Division of University Relations, AVP for Research and Economic Development, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Technology Development, Director of State and Federal Relations in the President’s Office and has served in the university’s legal counsel office. He serves on national and state boards, including: Fraunhofer USA, the Maryland Economic Development Association, and the Maryland Tech Council. 

He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Baltimore and he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Kate Engel, Director of Communication and Culture, Nebraska Innovation Campus

In her current position at Nebraska Innovation Campus (NIC), Kate Engel is responsible for developing and implementing programs for NIC aimed at creating a culture that encourages collaboration and partnerships between NIC, the university and the community. NIC programs are focused on creating opportunities for people with different skill sets to meet and socialize – a critical aspect in developing a culture at NIC that embraces and sparks innovation. Kate grew up on a farm near Red Oak, IA and is a Nebraska Wesleyan University graduate and earned a MA in Management from Doane University. Kate is currently working on a PhD in human sciences with a specialization in leadership studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Laura Frerichs, Director, University of Illinois Research Park and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Economic Development

Laura Frerichs is responsible for managing startup company oversight of the University of Illinois Research Park, and supporting the University’s economic development efforts. There are 90 companies located in the Research Park, which is a development including 200 acres on the campus of the University of Illinois. She developed innovative entrepreneur support programs including the Entrepreneur-in- Residence program, I-Start launch program, Student Shared Services, SBIR and Industrial Design assistance. Frerichs led recruitment of new research and innovation centers in the Research Park for large publicly traded firms including: Abbott, Abbvie, John Deere, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Dow Chemical, Grainger, Riverbed, Citrix, ADM, Raytheon, Yahoo, and other publicly traded firms. She has also been instrumental in leading more than 100 event offerings annually for clients including technical training, entrepreneur education, and networking activities. Under her leadership the Research at the University was named AURP Outstanding Research Park of the Year in 2011, by Inc. Magazine as one of the top 3 College Town Incubators in 2013, and by Forbes in 2010 as one of 10 Incubators Changing the World. Champaign-Urbana has emerged as one of the top 20 cities for venture capital per capita, with 3.4 the national average invested for early stage firms.

Martha Schoonmaker, CEcD, Executive  Director of Pinkney Innovation Complex for Science and Technology (PIC MC) Martha Schoonmaker

Martha Schoonmaker is the Executive Director for the Pinkney Innovation Complex for Science and Technology (PIC MC) Foundation, the entity that develops, manages and markets the Germantown campus on behalf of Montgomery College.  PIC MC is an integrated academic, business and research campus and is the only community college with a hospital, Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, located as the anchor resident partner. Martha manages contracts, leases and partnerships with existing resident tenant partners, including Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, is responsible for the development of corporate partnerships that expand internship, learning and career opportunities for students within PIC MC.