As Chair of the Biology Department, Shanklin oversees an annual budget of $11 million and a staff of 48 scientists, technicians, and support personnel pursuing and facilitating research that seeks to reveal the inner workings of living things—research that has enormous potential benefits for society.
Shanklin earned his Ph.D. in horticulture from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1988. He came to Brookhaven Lab in 1992 as an assistant biochemist, and he rose to the position of tenured senior biochemist in 2002. His research has focused on understanding the biochemical details of plant lipid metabolism and devising ways to control the composition of plant oils so that they can be used as renewable industrial feedstocks and/or fuels. To achieve these goals, he performs detailed structure-function analysis of plant enzymes that regulate the production of oils and then redesigns them to make useful products.
Shanklin has received numerous professional awards, including a Brookhaven Lab Science & Technology Award (2013), a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (1997), and the DOE Office of Energy Research Young Scientist Award (1997). He received the Terry Galliard Medal for Plant Lipid Biochemistry in 2000, and was made a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Society for Plant Biology, and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.