Recognizing Plant Cell authors: Laura Klasek

Laura Klasek, first author of Chloroplast chaperonin-mediated targeting of a thylakoid membrane protein

Current Position: Research Scientist I, Elemental Enzymes

Education: PhD in Plant Biology from UC Davis (Inoue and Theg labs), BA in Biology and English with a creative writing focus from Hendrix College

Non-scientific Interests: writing, reading, watching television with good friends

Brief bio:  Laura Klasek is a Research Scientist at Elemental Enzymes in St. Louis, Missouri.  In her fifth-grade science class, she learned her first definition of photosynthesis: “sunlight plus water plus carbon dioxide yields food for the plant and oxygen for us.”  She continues to be inspired by the endlessly fascinating process of how plants produce the raw materials from which they craft every part of themselves and supply us heterotrophs with what we need to survive.  She received her undergraduate degree from Hendrix College, where she double-majored in Biology and English with a creative writing focus.  Her undergrad research investigated how seeds move to new environments and if some modern North American plants, like the American persimmon and pawpaw, may have relied on extinct mammals like Mastodons to distribute their seeds.  As a graduate student at UC Davis, she joined Dr. Kentaro Inoue’s lab and, after his unexpected death, continued her research with Dr. Steven Theg.  Her project examined how the photosynthetic apparatus of the chloroplast develops, specifically how proteins are targeted and folded within the chloroplast, to facilitate improvements in how efficiently plants use light, water, and nutrients.  She joined Elemental Enzymes in June 2020, working with their innovative and cross-disciplinary team to develop biochemical pesticides and biostimulants that promote plant health, improve plant performance, and increase yield.  Beyond her benchwork, she endeavors to improve mentorship for graduate students by developing new resources for her graduate program and for younger students interested in science.  She was a 2018-2019 Conviron Scholar.  Laura currently represents early career researchers on ASPB’s Program Committee and on the ECPS Council.