Joan Salwen led two successful careers before founding Elm Innovations, a social venture partnering with farmers to nearly eliminate methane emissions from cattle digestion. She was a Managing Director at Accenture and then the Head of a college-prep girls’ school. Joan grew up in Iowa in the long shadow of the family farm, where Grandpa King raised soybeans, beef cattle and hardworking offspring. As a girl, Joan spent days walking bean fields (weeding by hand), harvesting cherries and preserving fresh-picked sweetcorn.
Prior to coming to Stanford as a Distinguished Careers Institute Fellow, Joan became aware of Australian research that found that a few handfuls of a specific red seaweed, when added to cattle diets, reduced digestive methane emissions by 75-99% (annually, an average cow burps approximately one car’s worth of global warming gas). She is now a visiting scholar in the School of Earth and she leads a team fully exploring the intersection of livestock agriculture, seaweed cultivation and climate. Her aim is to bring about a cooler Earth in a way that honors her ancestors.