Jackie Burns, a University of Florida professor emeritus, was the first and only woman to be named UF/IFAS dean of research, a position she held from 2014 until her retirement in January 2019. A trailblazer in more than one way, Burns was also one of the first women to join the faculty of the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, where she began her long tenure with the university in 1987.
Burns’ initial research at CREC concerned the mechanical harvest of citrus fruit, a harvesting option that still poses challenges and opportunities for the industry. During her time as the dean of research, however, the emergence of citrus greening shifted her focus to positioning UF/IFAS as a leader in finding solutions to the emerging crisis, a challenge that researchers are making significant progress resolving.
Through her 33 years at UF, Burns became known as a preeminent scientist in her field, publishing 89 peer-reviewed studies. She holds three degrees in horticulture: her undergraduate and masters are from the University of Arkansas and her doctorate is from Pennsylvania State University.
About this Series: The year 2020 commemorates the centennial year of the passage of the 19th Amendment, a crucial achievement in the women’s suffrage movement. This milestone reminds us of the collective spirit marshalled to enact this change. Throughout the year, UF/IFAS is highlighting female researchers, educators, staff members, students and innovators who embodied a similar trailblazing spirit during their engagement with the university. These trailblazers left an indelible mark on both the university and the state of Florida. The 19th Amendment states, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” although some women were still denied the right to vote until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of the 1960s. We hope this series inspires others to ignite their own trailblazing spirit and effect change in our world.