Langenheim came to UCSC as an Assistant Professor in 1966. She became an Associate Professor in 1968, and Professor of Biology in 1973. She taught UCSC residential college courses from 1966-1994 at Stevenson and Merrill colleges, as well as graduate courses through the Biology Board of Studies. She was active as an emeritus sponsoring graduate students until 2009. Langenheim endowed a Chair in Plant Ecology and Evolution at UCSC in 2006, and a Graduate Fellowship also in Plant Ecology and Evolution in 2004.
"It was an intriguing move from [Harvard] the oldest university, full of rich tradition, to a new campus bursting with innovation. It would also be a contrast to my days as a wife of a faculty member while at UC Berkeley. To the educational experiment of undergraduate residential colleges within a research university at UCSC, I brought experience in having taught part-time at several small liberal arts colleges as well as having done research at four major universities. Subsequently, I lived through the period of being the token woman in numerous situations; I was not an activist fighting on the front lines, so the speak, but tried to demonstrate the capability of women through my own hard work and accomplishments." (Odyssey of a Woman Field Scientist, 10)
Langenheim served in leadership roles for a variety of professional organizations and UCSC committees. She served as the first woman president of the Association for Tropical Biology (1985), and the International Society for Chemical Ecology (1986-1987), as well as the second woman president of the Ecological Society of America (1986-1987), and the Society of Economic Botany (1993-1994). She is the recipient of a number of honors and awards from the California Academy of Sciences, the Botanical Society of America, the Ecological Society of America, and other scientific organizations.