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CALS Dean to Serve as USDA Research Undersecretary
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 10/13/2009

The dean of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has been granted a one-year leave of absence from her job after being nominated to serve in a senior position at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Molly Jahn was appointed as deputy undersecretary of research, education and economics--a position responsible for leading three units within the USDA that provide research and service on issues related to food and agriculture. She will help guide the agency's efforts to ensure a safe, healthy, abundant and affordable food supply for the nation and the world.

"I am humbled and deeply honored to be asked to serve in this capacity, which I consider a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a part of the conversation about our national priorities relating to agriculture, food, nutrition, energy and the environment," says Jahn.

Specifically, she will provide leadership for the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the Economic Research Service and the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The largest of those units, the ARS, funds approximately $1.1 billion in research projects annually. Some 2,100 scientists and 8,000 employees work at more than 100 ARS research facilities around the nation.

Three ARS units reside on UW-Madison's campus: the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, the Cereal Crops Research Unit and the Vegetable Crops Research Unit. The CALS faculty includes 20 USDA scientists, who share facilities with campus scientists and provide training opportunities for UW-Madison graduate students.

Jahn will begin her new duties November 9. Chancellor Biddy Martin will confer with Provost Paul DeLuca and others before identifying a transition plan for CALS leadership.

"This is an excellent opportunity for Dean Jahn, one that will allow her to use her many talents to influence the nation's agricultural agenda," Martin says. "The university has a long history of providing service to government, and we are delighted to support Molly in carrying on that tradition."

Jahn has served as CALS dean since August 2006, when she became the college's first female dean. Her tenure has included several major landmarks for the college, including winning a $130 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to establish the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center on campus. Since her arrival, extramural research funding at CALS has increased by 48 percent.

Over the past several years, she has led several infrastructure projects, including construction of a new dairy facility at CALS' Arlington Research Station and a significant renewal of the college's faculty. She has been involved in the hiring of more than 70 professors, representing nearly one-quarter of the CALS faculty.

Jahn earned her bachelor's degree in 1980 from Swarthmore College. She holds graduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cornell University.

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