Schenck Lab

University of Missouri

Discovering plant metabolic and chemical diversity using phylobiochemistry

Plants are the best chemists on Earth and can produce hundreds of thousands of structurally diverse metabolites that serve various roles in plants but have also been co-opted by humans to serve medicinal and industrial roles. Yet, the evolution of the biochemical pathways leading to chemical diversity are not well understood.

The goals of the lab is to understand the metabolic innovations potentiating the evolution of plant chemical diversity. Then, apply these metabolic innovations to increase crop resilience or to enhance production of medicinal plant metabolites using synthetic biology platforms. To accomplish these goals, the lab uses a combination of biochemistry, analytical chemistry, comparative transcriptomics, and phylogenetic techniques to frame metabolic diversity in an evolutionary context. Read more about ongoing projects on the research page.


Summer 2024: Will's paper about the mode of action of the toxic proline analog is on bioRxiv!

Spring 2024: The Schenck Lab attends ASPB MW at Purdue and Will wins Best Undergraduate Poster Presentation!

Makenzie Gibson joins our group as the second PhD student

Craig receives the CAFNR Outstanding Early Career Teaching Award 

Will earns a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from ASPB, congrats! 

Winter 2024: First Schenck Lab publication in AJB, a collaborative effort combining diverse expertise across campus

Fall 2024: Postdoc Varun Dwivedi joins the Schenck Lab!

Spring 2023: The Schenck Lab attends ASPB MW and Conor and Will both win Best Undergraduate Talk Awards for their amazing talks!

Spring 2023: Lily Nowack joins the group as our first PhD student!

Fall 2022: Two more undergraduate students have joined the group, Paige Thompson and Emma Waller

Summer 2022: The lab continues to grow in numbers, Tanmayee has joined us from Jerusalem as a postdoc and Kathryn, an undergraduate Biochemistry student has also joined the group.

May 2022: Craig's postdoc work is published in Plant Physiology: "Natural variation meets synthetic biology: promiscuous trichome-expressed acyltransferases from Nicotiana"

February 2022: new preprint out from Craig's postdoc work: "Natural variation meets synthetic biology: promiscuous trichome expressed acyltransferases from Nicotiana acuminata"

December 2021: Review article published in Plant Molecular Biology with co-author Luke Busta - "Using interdisciplinary, phylogeny-guided approaches to understand the evolution of plant metabolism"

October 2021: Will Thives and Conor Raymond, two undergraduate Biochemistry students join the lab.

June 2021: Craig started his lab in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Missouri, come visit him in Schweitzer Hall 211.

Conor, Craig, and Will at ASPB MW meeting, Ames, Iowa 2023

Where you can find us:

We are located in the Biochemistry Department Schweitzer Hall Room 213

Schenck Lab members (L-R): Craig Schenck, Kathryn Vanden Hoek, Lily Nowack, Emma Waller, Will Thives Santos, Varun Dwivedi.