In Memoriam: Jane Silverthorne (1953–2022)

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Grant Hartzog, Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology

Jane Silverthorne
Jane Silverthorne

I am sad to report that a former MCD Biology faculty member, Jane Silverthorne, recently passed away.

Dr. Silverthorne, a plant biologist, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology (Hons) from the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, and then went on to earn her Ph.D. from the University of Warwick, where she worked with Professor R. John Ellis in the School of Biological Sciences. Dr. Silverthorne subsequently did postdoctoral work with Elaine Tobin at UCLA.  She served as a faculty member at UC Santa Cruz from 1987 to 2004, rising to the rank of full professor.

In 1999, Dr. Silverthorne took a temporary leave from UCSC so that she could serve as a rotating program director at the National Science Foundation. In 2003, she accepted a permanent program director position at the NSF managing the Plant Genome Program. From November 2006 to March 2008, Dr. Silverthorne served in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as a Senior Policy Analyst in the Life Sciences. Upon her return to the NSF, Dr. Silverthorne served in increasingly senior roles. From 2014 until her retirement in 2017, Dr. Silverthorne was the deputy assistant director for the Biological Sciences Directorate. More recently, Dr. Silverthorne served as a senior scientific advisor for the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation and on the Board of Directors at the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research.

Dr. Silverthorne was a respected scientist and a leader and champion for the development of the plant genomics field and community. She was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2012 and was the 2020 recipient of the American Society of Plant Biology Leadership in Science Public Service Award. She was a cheerful colleague who was always willing to provide help and advice. She will be missed by all who knew her.