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, completed 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.  Now at Elemental Enzymes, she supports the development of their innovative peptide and protein products that promote plant health.  Beyond her benchwork, she endeavors to improve mentorship for graduate students by developing new resources for graduate students and for younger students interested in science.  She was a 2018-2019 Conviron Scholar, and she currently serves as the early career researcher (ECR) representative to ASPB's Program Committee.

Institution/Company: Elemental Enzymes

Career Status:
Industry Scientist- fewer than 50 total employees

Research Areas:


L. Klasek, I. Ganesan, and S.M. Theg. 2020. Methods for studying protein targeting to and within the chloroplast. Methods in Cell Biology 160. (link)

Asher, A., I. Ganesan, L. Klasek, S.M. Theg. 2018. Isolation of physiologically active thylakoids and their use in energy-dependent protein transport assays. JOVE 139.  (link)

Klasek, L. and K. Inoue. 2016. Dual protein localization to the envelope and thylakoid membranes within the chloroplast. International Review of Cell and Molecular Biology 323. (link)

Boone, M.J.*, C.N. Davis*, L. Klasek*, J.F. del Sol, J.F., K. Roehm, and M.D. Moran. 2015. A test of Pleistocene mammal seed dispersal in anachronistic fruits using extant ecological and physiological analogs. Southeastern Naturalist 14.1. *equal contributions (link)

Current Affiliations
Experience & Education