Noted Scientist Nancy Ryan Gray and Brown University Engineering Dean Lawrence Larson Join the Slater Board; Larson Named Chair

New Appointees Bring Critical Insight into the Commercialization of University-Based Research

Providence, R.I. March 8, 2022 – The Slater Technology Fund, Rhode Island’s oldest and most active seed-stage investment fund, today announced that Nancy Ryan Gray, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Gordon Research Conferences (GRC), and Lawrence Larson, Ph.D., who will be stepping down as dean of the School of Engineering at Brown University at the end of this academic year, have joined its Board of Directors. Dr. Larson was named chairman of the Board. 

The new Board appointments come on the heels of the launch of RightHill Ventures, a seed-stage fund Slater started to find and fund the most promising research-driven opportunities and founders coming out of local universities. As research scientists themselves, Drs. Larson and Gray will bring important perspectives and experience to this initiative.

Dr. Gray leads GRC, which provides an international forum for the presentation and discussion of frontier research in the biological, chemical, physical and engineering sciences and their interfaces. Prior to joining GRC, she served as the director of membership at the American Chemical Society and as a research specialist in organic chemistry at Exxon Production Research Company (now Exxon/Mobil). Since 2017, Dr. Gray has served on the Board of Directors of Ligand Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and acquiring technologies that help pharmaceutical companies in drug discovery, early-stage drug development and product reformulation. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Chemical Society. Dr. Gray earned her B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Notre Dame and her Ph.D. in Fuel Chemistry from Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Larson, the co-founder of two startups focused on radio frequency electronics, has an extensive engineering background inwireless communications, semiconductor devices, high-frequency circuits and communications systems. From 1980 to 1996, he was at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, CA, where he directed the development of high-frequency microelectronics in GaAs, InP and Si/SiGe and MEMS technologies. In 1996, Dr. Larson joined the faculty at the University of California – San Diego, where he was the inaugural holder of the Communications Industry Chair. He joined Brown University in 2011, where he is serving as the Sorensen Family Dean of the School of Engineering until fall of 2022. During his time at Brown, Dr. Larson created the School of Engineering Corporate Advisory Board and spearheaded the effort that led to creation of the Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship in 2016.

“Drs. Larson and Gray’s involvement with Slater comes at an ideal time as we expand our efforts to develop and commercialize the research happening at Brown and other universities,” said Thorne Sparkman, managing director of Slater Technology Fund. “Nancy’s scientific research background and extensive industry connections will provide a valuable perspective on our activities, and Larry’s deep engineering background and leadership at Brown will bolster our ties to the University and provide us with increased visibility into the innovative research taking place there.”

“I am excited to be joining Slater’s board at such a pivotal time,” said Dr. Larson. “I share Slater’s belief that university research holds the promise to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems, from climate change to health to economic growth, and I welcome the opportunity to work with them to develop scientific innovations into commercial ventures that can achieve this impact.” 

About Slater Technology Fund

The Slater Technology Fund is an evergreen not-for-profit seed fund dedicated to supporting new venture development in Rhode Island. More than two decades ago, Slater launched a platform for seed-stage investing in Rhode Island; today, the organization remains the most active seed-stage investor in the state. Slater has invested in hundreds of technology ventures in the region, achieving multiple exits while also generating economic impact returns in the form of high-wage jobs.  For more information, visit

# # #

For more information, contact:
Laura Nelson or Sage Morander
SVM Public Relations