Schilling Full Steam Ahead

November 18, 2016

The year of 2016 was quite the banner year for BBE Associate Professor Jonathan Schilling and his lab members.

This past year, Schilling Lab members were first authors on seven peer-reviewed papers, among the longer list of Schilling Lab collaborative publications this year. There are more in the pipeline, and the year is not done, yet. Jonathan said "I have written and edited so much text in the past couple of years, that I am starting to see tracked-change edits on the back of my eyelids. We have just had a lot of research synthesis, lately. Things are really fruiting."

Among these publications are two high-profile papers worth particular attention. This Fall, one paper went to print in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on the biology of 'brown rot' type wood decay, with Schilling Lab member Dr. Jiwei Zhang as lead. The other publication, also this Fall, was published in Functional Ecology, a journal of the British Ecological Society, with lab member Dr. Zewei Song as lead. This article was on the role of endophytic fungi in the establishment of wood decay in forests. Both publications are the results of deep investments over numerous years, with multiple grants providing generous funding. These two papers’ respective foci -- biological and ecological mechanisms—offer a window at the cross-section of research areas fueling research in the Schilling Lab, currently.Schilling in South Africa

In line with this cross-over research, new grant funding was awarded to the Schilling Lab in 2016 from two Department of Energy (DOE) sources - one for work with fungal biology in a biotechnological context, and the other on the ecology of wood decay, with relevance to carbon emissions and climate change.  

Dr. Schilling himself was elected to join the University of Minnesota’s BioTechnology Institute (BTI) and the Microbial & Plant Genomics Institute (MPGI) this Spring and Summer, respectively. Both honors accompany Dr. Schilling’s aptitude for compelling and relevant research, and deeper efforts in molecular (DNA-based) biology.

On the academic front, Dr. Schilling developed a new course this Fall entitled Applied Mycology – course number BBE 3480/5480. It’s inaugural year is well underway and is going strong. Jonathan said he has "a lot of energy for this course, which helps when you’re creating the 14th lecture, it is 11pm, and you’re aiming to upload the presentation by midnight."

Travel was also on order for Dr. Schilling’s 2016. He paid a visit to see his PhD student Gerry Presley in South Africa in June. As part of his stay, he presented lectures at Stellenbosch University, and the University of the Western Cape. After concluding his days of lecture, he, along with Presley embarked on a 6-day backpacking trip in the Drakensburg area of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The two travelers did not spot any lions, leopards, etc. while there...instead, only Lesotho shepherds and some deep snow. 

EFG Conference  Paris, France was also on Dr. Schilling’s international travel map this year. He was invited to give a seminar at the European Fungal Conference on Genetics in April. He reported that it was, “A very engaged event, and a packed house audience.” Dr. Schilling provided his research on space-for-time designs to resolve gene regulation and feedback as fungi degrade wood

The year also proved to be a rewarding year for the Schilling Lab graduate students. An impressive four members of the lab received competitively-awarded fellowships, including an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, a Fulbright, a MnDRIVE fellow, and a Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering Fellowship.

To round off a busy year for Dr. Schilling has served on many grant review panels, and also joined the Applied & Environmental Microbiology, an American Society of Microbiology publication, as an editor. And somehow the lab also found the time to launch its new website. Visit www.schillinglab.cfans.umn.edu for the latest and greatest on fungi research.

"When I toast this year goodbye on NYE, it will be with my family at a ski-in cabin (Tettagouche) in the woods overlooking Lake Superior...some much needed R&R," shared Schilling. 

Bonus: His Twitter feed is interesting, research-centric, full of mushroom culinary inspo, and often witty.  

Mushroom Cooking