Jan E. Leach serves as the Research Associate Dean for the College of Agricultural Sciences and is a University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University. She is also an Adjunct Scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (Philippines). Leach is an authority on the molecular biology of plant– pathogen interactions.
Her research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of durable disease resistance, particularly in rice-pathogen interactions. Other projects currently underway in her laboratory are related to bioenergy (genetics of biomass production), improving health benefits of crop plants, and the development of novel tools for detection and monitoring of microbes associated with plants.
She is a Fellow and a past President of the American Phytopathological Society (APS). She currently chairs the APS Public Policy Board. She is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), served as Chair of the AAAS Section O (Agriculture, Food, and Renewable Resources) in 2007, and is currently a member of the Section O Steering Committee. Leach is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. She served as President of the International Society of Molecular Plant–Microbe Interactions. Leach has served on or chaired advisory committees for a number of national and international projects, programs and institutions, including the U.S. Rice Genome Sequencing Project, the Research Core for Interdisciplinary Science (RCIS) at Okayama University (Japan), Rural Development Agency (Korea), and a National Research Council (NRC) study. She was Editor in Chief of the APS journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. Leach earned her B.S. and M.S. in Microbiology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was a postdoctoral fellow at East Malling Research Station in Kent, England.