Molly Jahn has demonstrated major achievement not only in her research as a plant breeder and as a teacher, but also in her service to Wisconsin and society at large. Jahn is currently a professor in the Laboratory of Genetics and Department of Agronomy at UW–Madison. She holds adjunct appointments at Seoul National University and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She has had a distinguished international research career in plant genetics, genomics and plant breeding of vegetable crops, focusing on molecular genetics of disease resistance and quality traits. Her research groups at UW–Madison and Cornell University have produced crop varieties now grown commercially and for subsistence on six continents under approximately sixty active commercial licenses.
As dean of the UW–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences from 2006–2011, Jahn advanced many new initiatives across her college and campus, including major advances in renewable energy, with agricultural groups focused on sustainability, and with Wisconsin’s tribes. Her innovative approaches to cross-sector partnerships; engagement with emerging institutions and underserved populations; and integrated projects focused on impact, civic science and technology transfer have been highlighted in numerous studies and books. She has consulted widely in the private sector and has served as an advisor for philanthropic interests in venture capital and finance, First Nations, and domestic and foreign governmental agencies in agriculture, food security, life and environmental sciences.