Molly Jahn



(608) 630-1568

Office Location

353 Moore Hall

Molly smiles softly. Molly has blond hair, large metal black glasses, and wears a black top. Molly stands in front of a US flag.

Dr. Molly Jahn is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she holds appointments in the Department of Plant and Agroecosystem Sciences, the Nelson Institute, and the Global Health Institute. She is also appointed Joint Faculty at the US Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) where she chairs the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Energy and Environmental Sciences Directorate and sits on the Lab Director’s SAC.  From 2006-11 she served as Dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and Director of the Wisconsin Experiment Station.  In 2009, she was called to Washington to serve as Deputy and Acting Under Secretary of Agriculture, overseeing four USDA research and statistical agencies.

Dr. Jahn has led research programs at the University of Wisconsin and previously at Cornell University which produced vegetable varieties now grown commercially and for subsistence on six continents. She has >100 peer-reviewed publications and >60 active commercial licenses.   She has numerous awards, fellowships and lectureships for her research, teaching and outreach.  In 2014, she was named the first Lilian Martin Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Martin School.  Her innovative approaches to inter-sector partnership, engagement with emerging institutions and integrated large projects focused on impact and technology transfer have been highlighted in a number of studies and books.  She has served on numerous boards and scientific advisory panels around the world including the US National Academies of Science Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, NASA’s Applied Sciences Advisory Committee, the Santa Fe Institute Science Board, the CGIAR Consortium Board.  She consults globally for business and finance, governments, philanthropic organizations, and international multi-lateral institutions focused on agriculture, food, life sciences and environment.

She currently co-directs a major USDA grant on dairy sustainability, leads a five year project with US Government on food security, food systems and national security interests, and heads a global research alliance supported by the Skoll Global Threats Fund aimed at catalyzing decision-relevant science and engineering to better characterize and manage systemic risk at the land/water/energy/human security nexus.  She collaborates with the insurance/re-insurance and the humanitarian sectors on unmodelled peril and systems risk in food systems.

Dr. Jahn received the BA with Distinction in Biology from Swarthmore College, holds graduate degrees from MIT and Cornell University, and was assistant, associate and full professor of Plant Breeding and Plant Biology at Cornell University from 1991-2008.  She holds Honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Swarthmore College and Anglia Ruskin University in the UK and is a Fellow of the AAAS and the Wisconsin Academy of Arts, Sciences and Letters.

For a list of peer reviewed publications, please refer to the Jahn Research Group website.