Robert Grebenok


Director, Medical Lab Science

Ph.D. 1988/1993 Michigan Technological University
Dissertation Topic: “Examination of Ecdysteroid Biosynthesis in Spinach”
B.S. 1984/1988 Michigan Technological University

HS 318

The "Big Picture" - these 2 words summarize Grebenok's teaching and research philosophies. In all of his interactions with students in the classroom and the research laboratory his intention is to relate information to the greater system or the "big picture". Whether we are talking about the roles that a vitamin plays in the metabolism of the organism within a classroom discussion topic or how lipids are essential to life of all organisms examined, it is the role the these molecules play in the bigger picture of the organism or environment that holds the most importance for him. Grebenok is inspired by the integration and complexity of all organisms and in the classroom he takes every opportunity to discuss how the details make the larger picture possible.

In the research laboratory, he is part of a research team that investigates the role played by particular steroids in the relationship between agriculturally important crops (your food) and plant eating insects. The goal of his research lab is focused on assisting plants in defending themselves against herbivorous insect attack, helping to protect our food supply. The team have been conducting their own lab research for approximately 20 years and they have been highly successful in their research endeavors. As a research team they have generated numerous publications and patents and have been awarded numerous grant prizes.


Faculty advisor for 15 students who were awarded research funds from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Foundation
Faculty advisor for a research student who was awarded a Summer Undergraduate Fellowship from the American Society of Plant Physiologist
Received a Summer Research Fellowship to work in the laboratory of Dr. Dean Della Penna at Michigan State University to continue our investigation of the control of plant eating insects.
Elected to the Alpha Sigma Nu Jesuit Honor Society for my contributions to the Jesuit ideals.
Elected as the Canisius University Freshmen Advisor of the Year (2010).


Behmer, S., Olszewski, N., Sebastiani, J., Palka, S., Sparacino, G., Sciarrino, E and Grebenok, R. Plant phloem sterol content: forms, putative functions, and implication for phloem-feeding insects. Frontiers in Plant Science, (2013), 4, 370. This paper I am particularly proud of because it represents the accumulated work of several Canisius students spanning a time frame of 3 years.

Janson, E.M., R.J. Grebenok, S. Behmer and P. Abbot. (2009) “Same Host – Plant, Different Sterols: Variation in Sterol Metabolism in an Insect Herbivore Community”. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 35,1309-1319. This paper I am particularly proud of because it was a product of my research labs collaboration with a lab at the University of Maryland.

Steroid Profiles of Transgenic Tobacco Expressing an Actinomyces 3-Hydroxysteroid Oxidase Gene. Jennelle Heyer, Brandon Parker, David Becker, John Ruffino, Amber Fordyce, Matt DeWitt, Mark Bedard, and Robert Grebenok. (2004) Phytochemistry, 65: 2967-2976. This paper I am particularly proud of because it represents the accumulated work of several Canisius research groups in my lab.

Grebenok, R. J., Ohnmeiss, T., Huntley, E., Yamamoto, A., Galbraith, D. and Della Penna, D., “ Isolation and Characterization of a A. thaliana C-8,7 Sterol Isomerase: Functional and Structural Similarities to Mammalian C-8,7 Sterol Isomerase / Emopamil Binding Protein”. (1998) Plant Molecular Biology 38 (5) 807-815. This paper I am particularly proud of because not only was it the first paper I generated while a faculty at Canisius University, including 2 Canisius students as coauthors, the paper describes an area of work that continues today.