Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Warf News & Media

WARF board welcomes three new trustees

Jeanan Yasiri Moe, Director of Strategic Communications
[email protected] | 608.960.9892

Biotech innovator, Qualcomm executive and senior vice president at Rockwell Automation

MADISON, Wis. – Mary Haak-Frendscho, James H. Thompson and Rebecca House, three leading executives in the fields of drug development, computer engineering and corporate innovation, have joined the board of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). They will replace Carol Skornicka, Joan Spero and longtime trustee John Morgridge, who have completed distinguished terms as trustees.

Mary Haak-Frendscho brings 25 years of biotechnology industry experience spanning global pharma to early stage startups. She currently serves as CEO of Spotlight Therapeutics, a venture-funded, early stage biotech company focused on targeted in vivo gene editing. Prior to joining Spotlight, Haak-Frendscho led Blueline Bioscience and was a Venture Partner with Versant Ventures.

Haak-Frendscho, who holds a doctorate in immunology from UW-Madison, has led therapeutic programs from discovery to early clinical development. Previously she held positions at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Abgenix (now Amgen) and Genentech, where she played a key role in the development of omalizumab (Xolair®), an asthma medicine.

“It’s a privilege to join this illustrious board, adding my expertise in the translation and application of life sciences innovation,” said Haak-Frendscho. “I’m delighted to help maximize WARF’s impact for the benefit of UW, Wisconsin and the global community.”


James H. Thompson serves as Executive Vice President, engineering, for Qualcomm Technologies Inc. and Chief Technology Officer. In this role he is responsible for global R&D activities associated with all wireless chipsets in QCT, Qualcomm’s semiconductor business, as well as overseeing the companywide technical and product roadmaps across all business areas.

Thompson received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as his doctorate, in electrical & computer engineering from UW-Madison. Prior to joining QCT, Thompson led Qualcomm’s Globalstar engineering team and was part of the group that developed the CDMA cellular standard. Thompson is also a member of the Industrial Advisory Board of the UW-Madison College of Engineering.

“Having grown up as part of the university community in Madison, I have long been aware of WARF’s history and profound contributions to the UW. It is an honor to become part of this organization.”


Rebecca (Becky) House is Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary for Rockwell Automation Inc. In this role she is responsible for leading key areas including legal affairs, regulatory compliance, corporate governance, contracts and negotiations, public affairs, environmental health and safety, information and physical security, global trade compliance, corporate responsibility and product safety functions.

Previously, House held a senior role at Harley-Davidson Inc. and was a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP, a law firm headquartered in Milwaukee. A Badger alumna, she earned her law degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School. House also serves on the boards of FMI Funds Inc., Mind Research Institute and the Sojourner Foundation.

“As a proud alumna, I’m thrilled to be joining the WARF board at this critical time,” said House. “I look forward to collaborating with the team and lending my perspective and expertise in law, innovation and industrial automation and digital transformation to WARF’s mission of research and discovery.”

“We are honored to have Mary, James and Becky join the WARF Board of Trustees,” said Erik Iverson, WARF’s CEO. “These three accomplished alumni bring a wealth of expertise – from biotechnology to corporate culture and R&D – that will complement and build upon WARF’s strengths in these and other vital fields.”

“Our three new trustees bring backgrounds and skills in the areas of technology, business, finance and law that are needed by WARF to effectively serve the University of Wisconsin,” said James Berbee, WARF’s Board Chair. “All three are graduates of UW-Madison and share the same dedication to the university as the other WARF trustees. We are lucky to have their service.

“We also take this opportunity to extend our sincere appreciation to Carol Skornicka, Joan Spero and John Morgridge, whose combined more than 68 years of service on our board provided guidance and support through fruitful and challenging times. In particular, we express our gratitude to John Morgridge, whose tremendous dedication to the university’s research enterprise over these decades has changed the face of campus with the creation of the Morgridge Institute for Research, and will continue to inspire our faculty, staff and students for many years to come.”

About WARF
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) helps steward the cycle of research, discovery, commercialization and investment for the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Founded in 1925 as an independent, nonprofit foundation, WARF manages more than 2,000 patents and an investment portfolio as it funds university research, obtains patents for campus discoveries and licenses inventions to industry. For more information, visit warf.org.