Key Personnel

Robert J. Drape, MBA

Robert Drape serves as WiCell’s Executive Director and has held this position since June 2013. His vision is to strengthen WiCell’s support of developing stem cell technologies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the global stem cell research community to enhance basic research, improve diagnostics, and promote the translation of stem cell technology to address unmet clinical needs.  Robert previously served as WiCell’s Director of Operations and Project Management Director, joining the organization in 2007.  His prior experience includes roles in senior management and project management in organizations concentrating on vaccine development, clinical research and mammalian cell line production.  Robert earned an Executive MBA from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013 and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Augustana College (IL).

Tenneille E. Ludwig, Ph.D.

Tenneille Ludwig currently serves as director for distribution, media optimization and core services for WiCell and the WiCell Stem Cell Bank. She obtained a bachelor's degree in animal sciences in 1992 and a master's degree in reproductive endocrinology in 1994 from Washington State University prior to completing a Ph.D. in embryology and developmental biology with a minor in bioethics from UW–Madison in 2001. Her subsequent work in the laboratory of Dr. James Thomson (2001-2007) focused primarily on the optimization of cell culture conditions, and resulted in the development of the first defined, feeder-independent culture system for human embryonic stem cells (TeSR/mTeSR). From 2005 to 2010 Ludwig served as the director of distribution for the U.S. National Stem Cell Bank operated at WiCell. Ludwig’s primary research interest continues to be focused on improving human pluripotent (ES and iPS) cell culture and banking. Current projects include investigations into improving attachment and cloning efficiency, enabling large-scale culture and streamlining banking systems for ES and iPS cell lines.


Jessica Martin-Eckerly, M.S., MBA

Jessica Martin-Eckerly is the director of quality assurance and marketing at WiCell. Martin-Eckerly obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and holds a master's degree in biotechnology and an executive MBA from UW–Madison. Her prior experience ranges from an international pharmaceutical development company to a startup developing therapeutic tissue products. Martin-Eckerly is developing marketing programs for WiCell’s product and service lines, oversees the Quality Assurance program, and supports GMP cell banking projects with WiCell’s collaborating partner, Waisman Biomanufacturing.

Karen Dyer Montgomery, Ph.D.

Karen Montgomery is the director of the cytogenetics  laboratory at WiCell and a faculty member of the University of Wisconsin Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Center. Prior to joining WiCell, she co-directed the UW Cytogenetic Services at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene. She came to Madison in 2005 as an associate professor in the department of pathology at UW–Madison. Montgomery moved to Wisconsin from Santa Fe, N.M., where she was a laboratory director at Genzyme Genetics. Prior to that she was an associate professor and directed the clinical cytogenetics service at the University of New Mexico. She is a graduate of Kent State University, trained in human genetics at the University of Washington, is certified in clinical cytogenetics by the American Board of Medical Genetics and is a founding fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics. Montgomery’s research interests are in the role of cytogenetic abnormalities in human embryonic stem cells and in the interaction of genetics and environmental contaminants in pediatric leukemia.