Conversations in Science Series
A program conceived and organized by the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with the collaboration of the Madison Metropolitan School District and the Edgewood Sonderegger Science Center.

Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 4:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Sonderegger Science Center (For parking information click here)
1000 Edgewood College Drive Madison, Wisconsin

Molly Jahn
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

“Across Biological Kingdoms: From Potatoes to Polio”

The Conversations in Science series brings together UW-Madison science researchers and Dane County science teachers. Designed to stimulate discussion between scientists and science educators at all levels, these conversations connect high-, middle-, and elementary school classrooms with the University's cutting-edge research. Questions and ideas are freely exchanged between expert and an audience of K-12 educators.


Molly Jahn will talk about how the history of discovery and innovation at the University of Wisconsin- Madison's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences provides a very substantial foundation for the College's future. Holding firm to the core land grant missions of teaching, research and outreach, Dean Jahn will talk about the college's role in education and invention in the 21st Century. She will use an example from her own research in crop improvement to highlight the integrated approaches that characterize modern applied biological research.

Specifically, the wide application of genomics, the comprehensive study of an organism's genetics, has provided key recognitions regarding relationships among very diverse forms of life that allow insights to be drawn across biological kingdoms. Dr. Jahn will describe how insights derived from the study of poliovirus generated surprising and important results for the improvement of a wide array of crops including potato and tomato.


Molly Jahn is the 12th dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With more than 2300 students, the college is home to 19 academic departments in the life sciences, social sciences, natural resources and agriculture. The college addresses issues of health, food, energy and the environment through teaching, research and outreach.

Prior to accepting the deanship at UW, Molly was a professor in the departments of Plant Breeding & Genetics and Plant Biology at Cornell University. At Cornell, Molly focused her research on plant breeding and plant genetics, paying special attention to peppers and potatoes. Her research group produced crop varieties commercially grown on six continents. She has worked extensively overseas to link crop breeding with improved human nutrition and human welfare.

She holds degrees from Swarthmore College, MIT and Cornell University with postdoctoral work at UC Berkeley.

Back to Conversations in Science Series for K-12 Educators

Back to Science is Fun homepage