David discovered immature embryo bombardment as a means to genetically transform maize which became an enabling technology for routine corn transformation. He led the Monsanto corn transformation team that produced the first commercial Agrobacterium-derived transgenic corn event containing traits for glyphosate tolerance and corn rootworm resistance (MON88017) and the first Agro “2-T DNA” system (MON89034) resulting in a marker-free product with two unique insect control genes. Both events are key components of the Genuity SmartStax brand. He was also the Global New Products Lead for Monsanto supporting the launch of drought tolerant corn (MON87460) by establishing key collaborations with 3rd party stakeholders including involvement with Monsanto’s participation in WEMA (Water Efficient Maize for Africa). At Pioneer Hi-Bred, his team produced the early transgenic plants leading to the SPT system for producing male sterile female inbreds for hybrid corn production.
David also was the founder of FemtoGen a biosensor company which received SBIR funding and private equity investments. In 2011, David became the Director of Cell Biology for the gene editing company Cibus which recently launched the first product consisting of Sulfonylurea-resistant canola which has received both USDA and Canadian PNT approval as non-GMO. More recently, David founded “Songstad Consulting” where he provides consulting services in the plant biotech community. Beginning in 2019, David currently serves as Editor in Chief of In Vitro Plant, which is a journal published by Springer and affiliated with the SIVB. He has received several awards including Monsanto’s “Above and Beyond” Award in 2004 for developing the LH244 corn transformation system, the 2005 SIVB Fellow Award for his contributions to science and to the society and the first recipient of the University of Tennessee Plant Science Distinguished Alumnus Award (2016). David promoted scientific outreach by publishing books on Biofuels (in 2010 that was also re-published in Chinese due to popular demand) and a second book entitled “Convergence of Food Security, Energy Security and Sustainable Agriculture” which contains a chapter written by Dr. Gale Buchanan (former USDA Undersecretary) and was rolled out at the 2014 World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa. He also has been invited to speak at various venues including the University of Tennessee (2016), an invited workshop at MIT focused on gene editing (2018), a United Nations Convention on Biodiversity in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt (2018) and at the American Chemical Society meeting in San Diego (2019).