Los Angeles Times

The gig: Pam Marrone, 60, heads Marrone Bio Innovations in Davis, Calif., a leader among start-ups competing for a slice of the market in natural pesticides.

Unlikely start: Feeding worms was Pam Marrone’s first job at U.S. agrochemical giant Monsanto Co. That may seem like an inglorious assignment for a budding entomologist with a freshly minted doctorate from North Carolina State University. But in 1983, no one had yet figured out a way to keep the southern corn root worm alive in the laboratory long enough to study why it succumbed to a lowly soil bacterium that farmers had used since the 1950s to protect their crop.

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