Assistant Professor Molly Sears Aims for Enhanced Production with Enhanced Protection

Dr. Molly Sears is focusing her research on finding solutions for producers while holistically impacting ecosystems in a positive manner.

It starts with a question: How can we work to enhance agricultural productivity while reducing the amount of pollution that enters our waterways? This is the question that motivates Dr. Molly Sears, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics (AFRE). 

Sears is one of three newly arrived faculty members in AFRE this Fall. Coming into the department with a three-way appointment in teaching, research, and Extension, she is excited about the prospect of growth and finding solutions for Michigan producers. “We are really pushing the boundaries of the research frontier in AFRE,” said Sears. “I think that’s one of the things that is exciting about the Department; it’s not stagnant.” 

Molly Sears talking with colleague.
Dr. Molly Sears (left) having a conversation with Dr. Jeta Rudi Polloshka (right) during an industry tour.

The path for Sears into economics surrounding agriculture, food, and resources was almost inevitable through various experiences on the family farm or in the classroom. Those very same life experiences also drive her research. 

“From a research standpoint, I want to also be able to think about their issues from a bigger lens,” said Sears. “Not only understand the smaller pathways from an individual farmer perspective, but also think about issues, like watershed management, more broadly and ecosystems as a whole.” 

Sears looks forward to engaging with agricultural stakeholders as she begins her work at Michigan State.  

I think the thing about building these kinds of relationships with growers is that I want to do a really good, trustworthy job by going into the community,” said Sears. “So, I think, for me getting started, one of the earliest things I have to do is get connected to working with extension educators and growers to be able to understand what issues are really out there.” 

Her initial goals is to build understanding, connection, and positive impact with producers across Michigan. “I think I’d like to be able to leave a legacy that I was able to provide stakeholders with information they truly needed,” said Sears. “I want to understand the types of issues they were facing, and that I was willing to either work on it directly or connect them to the types of people who knew better than I.” 

Did you find this article useful?