Sonya J. Franklin, Ph.D.
Director, Microbial Traits
Sonya Franklin joined Monsanto in January of 2007, after nine years on the faculty of the University of Iowa. She grew up in northwestern Iowa, and attended Carleton College in Northfield, MN, where she majored in Chemistry. She then moved to the "Left coast," where she received her Ph.D. degree in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, working on lanthanide MRI contrast agents. Her interests continued to drift more biological, so following graduate school, she took a NIH-funded postdoctoral position at the California Institute of Technology working on metallointercalators in DNA. In 1998, she returned to Iowa and began her independent career in the Chemistry Department at the University of Iowa, where she received tenure in 2004, and graduated seven Ph.D. students. Her research at Iowa comprised several interrelated projects in bioinorganic chemistry, with the major focus of the lab on de novo metalloprotein design. When she was approached with the opportunity to do structure, function, and design at Monsanto as the Protein Science Lead, she left her academic career and has had no regrets.
At Monsanto she has held various roles leading teams in the areas of Genomic and Protein Sciences, including sequencing, bioinformatics, cell biology, and protein characterization and design. She has served as the Cambridge Site Lead, Director of the Protein Technologies Program, and then the Enabling Technologies Program within Biotechnology. She has recently taken a new role as Biotechnology Microbial Traits Program Director, responsible for the discovery and development of Microbial-based foliar and seed treatment products, as well as for the development of our Biotechnology transgenic disease product pipeline.
Sonya lives in Chesterfield with her husband, a chemistry professor (Maryville) and Moto Guzzi aficionado, their daughter the rambunctious second grader, and two slightly unruly young cats.