Dr. Joshua Widhalm earned his Ph.D. via the Center for Plant Science Innovation at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying plant quinone metabolism. Then, he did his postdoctoral research with Dr. Natalia Dudareva in the Department of Biochemistry at Purdue University investigating the metabolism of phenylalanine and phenylalanine-derived natural products in plants. From 2012-2015, Dr. Widhalm was a Life Sciences Research Foundation Fellow sponsored by The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
Dr. Widhalm’s research program is focused on plant allelochemicals, natural products released into the environment that influence the growth and development of other species. He is particularly interested in elucidating the biosynthesis of allelopathic naphthoquinones and investigating their metabolic connection with quinones involved in respiration and photosynthesis. His research on allelopathic naphthoquinones will also encompass deciphering the molecular mechanisms involved in their release into the environment, determining their biochemical modes of action, and exploring their roles in promoting (a)biotic stress resistance. The long term goal of Dr. Widhalm’s research program is to translate the gained basic knowledge into innovative strategies to harness plant allelochemicals for crop improvement. Dr. Widhalm is also working on identifying new naturally-occurring derivatives of plant naphthoquinones, which have emerged as promising anti-cancer drugs.