President & CEO
As Chief Executive Officer, Vort is responsible for all operations of the firm. Prior to joining Tragon, he was President of ComputerCare where he oversaw the firm’s growth from a regional computer repair center to the third-largest IBM service-provider in the U.S. Vort, who has also held management roles at Oracle Corporation and E&J Gallo, holds a B.S. degree in Finance from the University of the Pacific.
Herbert Stone, Ph.D.
Tragon Senior Advisor & Co-Founder
A former Director of Stanford Research Institute (SRI), Dr. Stone was President of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) from 2004-2005. With a Ph.D. from U.C. Davis, he has lectured worldwide, is the author of over 125 publications, and holds six patents. Dr. Stone is co-author with Joel Sidel of Sensory Evaluation Practices, one of the most respected texts in the industry. Along with Mr. Sidel, Dr. Stone founded Tragon® in 1974.
Chief Operating Officer
As Chief Operating Officer of Tragon, Adkins is responsible for assisting Mr. Vort in providing leadership and vision to the company. His day-to-day management efforts ensure that Tragon effectively accomplishes its mission. As part of his duties Adkins is responsible for the automation and integrity of the data collection and analysis process. Prior to joining Tragon, he worked for ChefsBest developing a data collection and automation analysis application for their sensory group. In 1986 Brian founded ComputerCare, a regional IT solutions provider where he first met Mr. Vort. Mr. Adkins brings extensive hands-on experience in technology and business management to his duties as COO. He received his B.S. in Computer Engineering from Baylor University.
Vice President of Sales
A key member of Tragon since 1992, Bleibaum oversees Tragon’s worldwide sales and custom primary research. In addition to her direct responsibilities at Tragon, Bleibaum also chairs the sensory committee for ASTM; is an officer of the Society of Sensory Professionals (SSP); is a guest lecturer for various technical organizations; and Co-developer and instructor of the UC Davis Applied Sensory Science and Consumer Testing Certificate Program for Distance Learners. Bleibaum earned her B.S. from U.C. Davis and her M.A. in Physiological Psychology and Psychophysics from Washington University, specializing in Consumer Behavior.
Heather A. Thomas
Vice President, Research
Thomas is responsible for Tragon’s worldwide data analysis, specializing in product optimization techniques, segmentation research, experimental design, choice-based modeling, and advanced multivariate analysis techniques. She is also a trained Tragon QDA® panel moderator. Thomas received her B.S. in Food Science from U.C. Davis. She is co-author, with Stone and Sidel, of Hitting the Target: Sensory and Product Optimization.
Clara Tao, Ph.D.
Director, Consumer Insights
Clara manages the Consumer Insights and Project Managers. Prior to joining Tragon, she worked for Jamba Juice as the Scientific Affairs Manager in food regulatory and sensory evaluation. She was also formerly with Safeway in Quality Assurance managing beverages (including carbonated soft drinks, juices, bottled water) and frozen produces. Her experience includes food and nutrition product development, quality assurance, and food regulatory. She is a peer review for Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and Journal of Food Science. She received her Ph.D. from Florida State University in Nutrition and Food Science.