Kenneth Keegstra is a University Distinguished Professor in the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory at Michigan State University and currently serves as Scientific Director of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. He also holds appointments in the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and of Plant Biology at Michigan State University. Keegstra was born in 1945 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and lived in that area before moving to Traverse City, Michigan where he attended high school. He graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, with a degree in chemistry and received a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Colorado in 1971. Following postdoctoral work in the Biology Department at MIT he held a faculty position at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and then in the Botany Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1977 until his move to Michigan State University in 1993. He served as president of the American Society of Plant Biologists.

Research Interests

Kenneth Keegstra has studied several different research problems, but has focused most of his activities on studying the biogenesis of chloroplasts in higher plants and on investigating the structure and biosynthesis of plant cell wall polysaccharides. His laboratory spent many years studying the process by which proteins are transported from their site of synthesis within the cytosol into chloroplasts and subsequently directed to their proper location within the organelle. In recent years, most of his attention has focused on the biosynthesis of plant cell wall polysaccharides. His laboratory has focused on the identification and characterization of the genes and proteins responsible for the biosynthesis of xyloglucans and mannans; both significant components of plant cell walls. His interest in plant cell wall polysaccharides has led to his involvement in the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, where the goal is to develop technology for converting plant cell wall components into liquid transportation fuels.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 62: Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 25: Plant Biology