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John C. Sedbrook​, PhD

Professor of Genetics

Coordinator, School Biological Sciences Bioenergy Master’s sequence

Coordinator, Integrated Plant Biology and Bioenergy (IPBB) research and education group.

Postdoc: Carnegie Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 

PhD: University of Wisconsin, Dept. of Genetics, Madison, WI

Lab Overview​

Members of the Sedbrook lab are performing basic and translational research aimed at identifying molecular genetic mechanisms that can be exploited to improve crops for human use, in particular as new bioenergy crops. The lab’s two main research foci are:

1) Rapidly domesticating pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) as a new winter annual oilseed cover crop to be grown in temperate regions of the world including throughout the U.S. Midwest Corn Belt.

2) Understanding and manipulating secondary cell wall formation in grasses to improve biomass deconstruction properties for biofuels generation without compromising plant health.​

Current Funding

DOE-BER Integrated Pennycress Resilience Project (IPREP), 2020-2025. The overall goal of this multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary project is to identify genetic variants conferring abiotic stress tolerance and resilience for incorporation into next generation elite Covercress (domesticated pennycress) varieties. The project summary can be found here and project website at

USDA-NIFA Integrated Pennycress Research Enabling Farm and Energy Resilience (IPREFER), 2019-2024. The overall goal of this coordinated agricultural project (CAP) is to commercially establish Covercress (domesticated pennycress) as an oilseed-producing cash cover crop throughout the U.S. Midwest and beyond. Learn more about this multi-institutional project at the

USDA-NIFA/DOE Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy, 2018-2021. Genetic improvement of seed yield and oil content in field pennycress, a non-food oilseed feedstock.​

Recent Funding​

USDA-NIFA/DOE Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy, 2017-2020. Advancing field pennycress as a new oilseed biofuels feedstock that does not require new land commitments.​

DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), 2007-2017. The GLBRC is one of three $25 million per year Department of Energy-funded Bioenergy Research Centers (DOE BRCs) with a mission to perform basic research aimed at breaking barriers to the efficient, economic and sustainable generation of biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass. Learn about GLBRC research

USDA-NIFA/DOE Plant Feedstocks Genomics for Bioenergy, 2014-2017. Advancing field pennycress as a new oilseed biodiesel and jet fuel feedstock that does not require new land commitments.​​


2020 Illinois State University Outstanding University Researcher Award.

2017 Illinois State University College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding College Researcher Award. 

Illinois State University 2006 Research Initiative Award. 

Illinois State University Million Dollar Club (Inducted in 2012). 


John Sedbrook
School of Biological Sciences
Illinois State University
Campus Box 4120
Normal, IL 61790 USA

Phone: (309) 438-3374

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