Our Team


christopher P. salm, ph.d.

Throughout his career, Chris has focused on building trusted relationships while finding and proving new technologies to better feed the world. He has nearly 30 years of experience at the forefront of innovation in the meat industry and held leadership positions at Oscar Mayer, Johnsonville Sausage, and ConAgra Foods. Chris also founded Salm Partners, a co-pack manufacturer of ready-to-eat sausages and hot dogs that focuses on implementing new technologies in the packaged foods industry.  

Chris holds a B.S. in meat and animal sciences at University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Purdue University. Over the past 8 years, Chris has served as chairman of two advisory boards for the Dean of the College of Agriculture at UW Madison, and is currently on the UW-Madison College of Agriculture Board of Visitors. Chris is a 2016 UW Entrepreneurial Achievement Award recipient.

He has been married for over 40 years to Susan, also a UW-Madison and Purdue graduate. Their family includes their three children, their spouses, and five grandsons. Chris and Susan serve in several capacities in their church and other community organizations.


jordan m. sand, ph.d.
co-founder and cto

Jordan Sand comes to Ab E Discovery with a deep history in agriculture and an impressive track record for recognizing opportunities to use science to improve existing processes. Growing up on a farm in North Dakota, he earned the prestigious Lemelson-MIT High School Invention Apprenticeship at the age of 18 for his innovations in eco-friendly paper and solar distillation of water.

Jordan worked with Dr. Mark Cook for over 7 years, focusing on pathogens’ ability to modify the host immune system to allow for infection. Together, they developed the original basis for Cosabody and subsequently won the 2012 Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation Innovation Award. Jordan has published 19 papers and 13+ patents based on this and other technologies.

Jordan holds a dual degree in microbiology and biotechnology from North Dakota State University, as well as a doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in molecular and environmental toxicology. He lives in Madison with his wife, Laurie, and three children.


eric m. salm, ph.d.

Eric Salm brings a unique combination of scientific knowledge and private sector expertise to Ab E Discovery. Most recently, he served as a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group in Washington, D.C., specializing in pharmaceuticals. Eric has extensive experience in business strategy, marketing and sales, organizational design, and global operations optimization.

As a scientist, Eric’s research focused on expanding the functionality of field effect transistors for biosensing applications. He holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D in bioengineering and biomedical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During his time at the university, he also collaborated with industry leaders Abbott Diagnostics and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing to further his knowledge of commercial biosensor development.

Eric lives in Madison with his wife, Lauren. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling, playing and watching soccer, and is an avid car enthusiast.

Web Headshots.png

David L. Rettig
Business Development Officer

With decades of experience building businesses in the food industry, David Rettig leads the delivery of Ab E Discovery’s bio-functional feed and food ingredients to customers around the world. David has served as Founder, CEO and President of three egg-related businesses, overseeing their journey from ideation to funding to growth and establishment as leaders in their respective fields. Under his management, Rembrandt Enterprises went from startup to one of the five largest producers of eggs in the USA (and top ten globally) in just 10 years.

David’s interest in the food industry began at a young age, working for the family’s egg grading operation in Iowa and eventually partnering with his father to establish egg supply business Hoffman-Rettig Foods (named after his grandfather, naturally). While growing the business, David also pursued a career in politics–he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in government–by serving as political director for both Bob and Elizabeth Dole during several campaigns.

David enjoys running marathons and ultramarathons, travel, reading and spending time with his wife Jennifer and children Bogdan and Katya.


carrie l. cook, ph.d.
quality and regulatory officer

Carrie Cook brings a unique combination of aptitudes and experience that are exceptionally suited to Ab E Discovery.  With chemical engineering degrees from premier institutions, she combines a strong academic foundation in physical and biological sciences with an engineer’s perspective on data analysis and systems-wide optimization. Carrie is a highly skilled biotechnologist with particular expertise in assay development. She has 20 years of professional experience in the pharmaceutical and diagnostic industries, holding impactful roles both at large multinational companies and tiny startups. Scientific themes running through much of her career include peptide design and avian antibody technologies.

Carrie earned her B.S. at the University of California, Davis (ChemE/food science) and Ph.D. at UW-Madison (ChemE/biotechnology), where she was one of the first named NIH Biotechnology Program Fellows. She has since been involved in starting several biotechnology companies, including co-founding and serving as CSO for the technology transfer company SCCD, Inc. Most recently, Carrie’s professional direction has evolved from product development and scale-up to developing and improving effective quality management systems for biotechnology companies in animal agriculture.

At home, Carrie is the mother of a delightful son adopted from Ethiopia. Her interests include gardening, folk arts, kayaking, and exhibition poultry. She has a long history of team leadership positions through church and currently helps lead a large, community-wide adoption group.

Web Headshots.png

gil l. boldt
process engineer

A background in chemical engineering has led Gil Boldt to a career focused on developing efficient, effective methods to deliver high quality products for the food industry. With over 25 years of experience in R&D, processing, and quality assurance, Gil contributes a significant depth and breadth of manufacturing knowledge to Ab E Discovery. He has held leadership positions at Central Soya, Nabisco, Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products, ConAgra Foods, TreeHouse Foods, and others.

In addition, Gil focuses on a Lean manufacturing and production approach, having earned Lean/Six Sigma Green Belt, Lean Executive Leadership Institute, and Lean Product Development certifications. He also possesses a number of certifications in safety and quality assurance, including: Better Process Control, Aseptic Processing, HACCP, HARPC, SQF, FSMA, and Quality Engineer.

When not traveling, Gil is a competitive runner and recently completed his first Ironman triathlon.

Web Headshots (1).png

amadeus p. benitez
systems development & accounting

A serial entrepreneur, Amadeus joins Ab E Discovery having started several of his own ventures in the education and real estate sectors. While launching these businesses, he also completed a B.S. in physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Amadeus has used his passion for science and business to hone skills in mathematical analysis, finance, and computer coding. A licensed pilot and flight instructor, he also spent three years at the Delta Connection Academy training to become a commercial pilot and teaching others.

While not at work, Amadeus enjoys flying planes around Wisconsin, tutoring math and physics students of all ages. He is also a member of UW-Madison’s Hyperloop team, developing high-speed rail technology and competing with other teams as part of the worldwide SpaceX Hyperloop pod competition.

Web Headshots (2).png

David a. nicholson
general manager, ab e manufacturing

With over 30 years in the food industry, David brings a combination of technical, creative and managerial experience to Ab E Manufacturing. David has overseen the exploration, implementation and commercialization of new products and technologies at a number of the industry’s leading companies: Johnsonville Sausage, ConAgra Foods, Quest International Flavors and Food Ingredients, and Red Arrow Products. With a background in product development and R&D, he has led projects from concept to launch  for retail, innovation, and food services units.

David double majored in Meat and Animal Science and Poultry Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to his technical work, he is also passionate about leading through coaching and education; he actively participated in the development and teaching of Sausage 101, now a regular course at Johnsonville University.

David enjoys outdoor adventures with his wife and daughters, as well as cooking, hunting, fishing, meat processing and hydroponics. He holds leadership and instructing positions with a number of Wisconsin hunting and sporting organizations, in addition to sitting on the board of directors of the Southeast Wisconsin Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Web Headshots.png

hannah j. schlumberger
production scientist

Hannah focuses on the intersection of academic and practical knowledge, experienced in both the research and industry sides of animal health and nutrition. In both settings, she has led efforts to test, diagnose and treat large animals, with a specialty in large animals and commercial livestock. Her research areas include equine nutrition and dairy cow mastitis, including the validation of a new, automated milk leukocyte differential (MLD) test. While at Purina, Hannah also worked with dairy producers to apply diet- and nutrition-driven solutions to correct animal health issues and encourage growth.

A graduate of the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities), Hannah holds a B.S. in Animal Science, with a focus on production and a minor in Agriculture and Farm Business Management. She is IACUC-certified and provided care and maintenance to large animals at the University of Minnesota Equine Center during all four years at the university.

In her spare time, Hannah enjoys spending time outdoors–her favorite activities include fishing, swing dancing, horseback riding and exploring horse-friendly campsites and trails. An avid painter and foodie, she also plays guitar and hopes to one day own chickens and a small herd of Angus cattle.


mark v. salm

Mark grew up on a family farm in Wisconsin with 10 siblings, including Chris. He began his career in the paper industry, progressing from maintenance technician to engineering and project management over the course of 32 years. In 2004, Mark and Chris formed Salm Partners, LLC. Their company has grown into one of the largest co-pack manufacturers of ready-to-eat sausages and hot dogs in the packaged foods industry.  

Throughout his career, Mark has also served as a general contractor, overseeing the construction of Salm Partners’ Facilities and other manufacturing plants. He brings his knowledge of construction, equipment installation, startup operations, and other related activities to Ab E Discovery’s manufacturing capabilities.

In Memoriam

1956 - 2017


mark e. cook, ph.d.
co-founder and cso

Mark E. Cook received his Ph.D. in poultry nutrition and immunology at Louisiana State University in 1982 and immediately joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) Poultry Science Department (now the Animal Sciences Department). An award-winning professor, his research focused on novel dietary mechanisms to control inflammation and increase animal growth and development. Mark has over 120 peer-reviewed scientific papers and 40 U.S. patents (approximately 200 worldwide).

In addition, he co-founded four companies and received several awards for his entrepreneurial activity. Mark also chaired the University Committee (executive committee for the senate), Discovery to Product, Vice Chancellor for Research Search and Screen Committee, and was a member of UW’s Research Council. He was a Poultry Science Association (PSA) Fellow, Vice President of the PSA, founding member of the Board of Directors for Advocacy Consortium for Entrepreneurs, and the Co-Chair of the Founding Committee of UW’s Seed Fund.