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 the Director of the WiCell Stem Cell Bank overseeing the banking, distribution, and core services operations at WiCell. Dr. Ludwig obtained her Bachelor's and Master’s degrees 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 Dr. Ludwig served as the director of distribution for the U.S. National Stem Cell Bank operated at WiCell. Dr. Ludwig is a member of the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center at the University of Wisconsin, serves on the steering committee for the International Stem Cell Banking Forum (ISCBF), and operates one of the Core Laboratories for the International Stem Cell Initiative (ISCI). Additionally, she has served as a Scientific Advisor to multiple boards, including the International Stem Cell Forum Ethics Working Party, collegiate training programs, and national and international registries.

Jessica Martin-Eckerly, MBA, MS

Jessica Martin-Eckerly is Director of Business Operations and Marketing for WiCell.  Jessica works with senior management to provide strategic direction for WiCell, with a focus on growth and identification of new opportunities.  In addition, she develops and leads strategy for WiCell’s marketing efforts, such as website development, branding, media relations, and sponsorships.  Passionate about mentoring students and driving new technologies toward commercialization, she serves as a Faculty Assistant for the Master of Science in Biotechnology program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Prior to joining WiCell in 2008 she had roles in market research, QA, QC, and manufacturing for an international pharmaceutical development company and for a startup company developing therapeutic tissue products. Jessica obtained her B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and holds an Executive MBA and a master's degree in biotechnology, both from University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Seth Taapken, MS, CG(ASCP)

Seth Taapken is the Senior Manager – Cytogenetics at WiCell. In this role, Seth manages lab operations for the characterization lab.  Seth holds ASCP certification as a Clinical Specialist in Cytogenetics, as well as a Bachelors in Biology from Macalester College and a Master’s Degree in Biotechnology from UW-Madison.  Prior to his tenure at WiCell he gained significant experience in  clinical cytogenetics working at Genzyme Genetics as a Cytogenetic Technologist. Seth has also worked in project management for Epic Systems, a leading medical records software company. Seth works closely with investigators to understand their research needs, and using WiCell’s unique abilities, helps design a characterization plan best suited to fit them.