Tim Wencewicz, assistant professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, has been recognized with a 2019 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award.
As one of 13 award recipients nationwide, Wencewicz receives an unrestricted grant of $75,000 to support his research and teaching efforts. He will use the funding for his research to help develop new antibiotics, to combat antibiotic resistance and to improve the university’s organic chemistry curriculum.
Wencewicz draws inspiration from nature’s chemical inventory for his efforts to find antibiotic scaffolds that act on new biological targets. He is focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms of antibiotic action, biosynthesis and resistance. Among other active basic research projects, Wencewicz is collaborating with researchers at the School of Medicine to anticipate and stave off emerging antibiotic resistance threats. Their work includes investigating a family of tetracycline-inactivating enzymes that are widespread in soil and human gut environments.
Wencewicz teaches organic chemistry and a popular upper-level elective bioorganic chemistry course that he developed, which uses naturally occurring antibiotic molecules as a backdrop. The bioorganic chemistry course includes an intensive scientific writing component that helps students learn how to navigate the chemical literature, communicate scientific results and design effective figures.