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Jeanmaire Molina

Jeanmaire E. Molina

Assistant Professor of Biology

B.S., University of the Philippines - DilimanPh.D., New Brunswick Campus, Rutgers University


Jeanmaire "Jean" Molina was born and raised in Manila, the Philippines, by parents who have always shared their love of the natural sciences with their three children. At age 10, she was already collecting bugs in her Barbie® doll's drawers or digging for queen ants to start a colony in her custom-built Lego® terrarium. With dreams of becoming like Sean Connery in "Medicine Man," she studied biology at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. It was the taxonomy courses and field trips that turned her life around. Getting down and dirty with nature exhilarated her, so she knew that studying biodiversity would be her lifelong destiny.

After graduating in 2001, she met Leonard Co, who became her mentor and the most influential person in her life. Co recruited her to work for Conservation International-Philippines and the Smithsonian's Center for Tropical Forest Science as a botany research associate conducting floristic inventories in Palanan, Isabela, one of the most remote but pristine forests in the Philippines. This work, later published as a collaborative effort, was the first to document the demographics of Philippine forest tree species.

Jean left the Philippines in 2003 to pursue graduate studies in the U.S. at Rutgers University, under the supervision of Dr. Lena Struwe. For her dissertation Jean worked on the evolution and biogeography of the tropical plant family Leeaceae, a group closely related to the grape family. In 2009 she joined the lab of Dr. Michael Purugganan at New York University as a postdoctoral scientist and worked on the evolutionary genomics of rice domestication. This resulted in a controversial publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and a BBC press release providing the first molecular evidence for the Chinese origin of the Asian domesticated rice, which includes indica rice, raising the eyebrows of many Indian rice scientists.

Jean joined Long Island University's Brooklyn Campus in January 2011. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that generate plant biodiversity, using the Philippine islands as a model system. She teaches general biology and ethnobotany, which educates health sciences students on the indispensable role of plants in maintaining human societies and ecosystems.

Molina, a botanist, has been studying the rare Southeast Asian species Rafflesia and found that of the three genomes common to all plants—nuclear, mitochondrial, and chloroplast—the chloroplast genome is apparently absent in Rafflesia. Her research paper can be found here.

Click here for additional information on Dr. Molina’s research.


Plant Systematics, Botany, Evolutionary Biology


Co-author, articles in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, PLoS ONE, Molecular Ecology, Plant Species Biology, Systematic Botany, Systematics and Biodiversity and the Australian Journal of Systematic Botany
(2004 – 2011)

Co-author, "Forest Trees of Palanan, Philippines: A Study in Population Ecology" (2006)

Co-author, "Palanan Forest Dynamics Plot, Philippines, "published in Tropical Forest Diversity and Dynamism: Findings from a Large-Scale Plot Network (2004)

Co-author, "Pictorial Guide to the Tree and Shrub Flora of the Palanan Forest Dynamics Plot and Vicinity, Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park" (2003)

Professional Affiliations:

Research Affiliate, New York University

Research Affiliate, University of the Philippines and Philippine Genome Center

Researcher, Palanan Forest Dynamics Plot (Philippines), Center for Tropical Forest Science

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