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ANR develops innovation incubation strategy

Fred Mendez (center), of Union Bank, was among the 40 people who met on Aug. 30 to develop a comprehensive strategy to nurture new technologies and innovative businesses for agriculture and natural resources.

“If UC ANR isn't an incubator, I don't know what is. Furthermore, I would argue that the partnership of our land-grant university system with Cooperative Extension is the original and most productive incubator that the world has ever seen,” VP Glenda Humiston wrote in the October-December 2015 issue of California Agriculture.  

Since joining ANR, Humiston has been working to expand UC ANR's incubation activities by joining with diverse partners to develop a much broader innovation infrastructure specifically designed to support intellectual property, innovation, entrepreneurship, tech transfer, startups and commercialization aimed at agriculture, natural resources and rural communities. 

“A lot of people have ideas, but they don't know how to be business leaders. An incubator connects them with the things they need to be successful as new entrepreneurs,” said Gabe Youtsey, chief information officer.

"We're catalyzing like-minded partners to jointly develop the needed statewide innovation infrastructure,” Humiston said.

To kick off development of such a system, Humiston brought together 40 people on Aug. 30 with a wide range of expertise and representing a variety of sectors: agriculture, banking, business, government, technology and higher education – including leaders of several successful incubators. The purpose of the meeting, held at the ANR building in Davis, was to engage the group in developing a comprehensive strategy to nurture new technologies and innovative businesses for agriculture and natural resources. 

“We're not looking to reinvent the wheel or duplicate existing efforts,” Humiston said, explaining that she hopes to support and leverage the strengths and efforts of partners.

Christine Gulbranson, UC senior vice president of research innovation and entrepreneurship, and Reg Kelly of UC San Francisco, who created QB3, – one of UC's best performing incubators – participated in the session. The quantitative biologists at UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco and UC Santa Cruz who comprise QB3 take on challenges in biology using physics, chemistry, and computer science. QB3's Startup in a Box provides legal and grant-writing help for biotech startups.

“We want to take the QB3 model and modify it for ANR,” Humiston said. “But we don't have the resources to build a statewide system by ourselves so we're catalyzing like-minded partners to jointly develop the needed statewide innovation infrastructure.”

Such an innovation system could benefit a wide array of entrepreneurs in rural areas and help to commercialize ideas generated by UC Cooperative Extension specialists and advisors.

“Over the past eight years, ANR researchers have filed 148 patents,” Humiston said. “However, it is unclear if many of those had the support they needed to go the next step.”

Participants identified resources available and gaps around innovation, place, talent, stewardship and engagement.

At the meeting, the group divided into five tables of eight people. Each table had representatives of UC ANR, various UC campuses, state and federal government, funding institutions, incubators, and different industries. They discussed issues around innovation, place, talent, stewardship and engagement, answering the following questions:

  • What exists now?
  • Where are the gaps that need to be filled?
  • Which of these gaps could UC ANR help catalyze and fill, either with partners or on its own?
  • How could this work to fill the gaps be funded?
  • How do we measure success?

Conversations were lively and many ideas were brought forth for specific projects and other implementation. “It's really exciting,” said Humiston. “People were jazzed. Virtually all of the participants said they want to work with us on next steps.”

In addition to Humiston and Youtsey, AVP Wendy Powers and UCCE advisors David Doll and Andre Biscaro participated for ANR. Consultant Meg Arnold is writing up a report, which is expected to be released in early October. 

Posted on Friday, September 23, 2016 at 11:44 AM

Names in the News

Konrad Mathesius
Mathesius named UCCE agronomy advisor in Capitol Corridor

Konrad Mathesius (pronounced “Muh-tay-zee-us”) is the new UCCE agronomy advisor for Yolo, Sacramento and Solano counties.

Mathesius, who joined ANR on June 27, will be working with growers and pest control advisers in the Capitol Corridor area to address issues related to soils, pests, diseases and production efficiency. In addition to collaborating on a few projects with UCCE advisor Rachael Long in alfalfa, dry beans and sunflowers, he will work on a wide range of agronomic crops including corn, wheat, barley and safflower. 

Mathesius will work with growers and PCAs to mitigate crop losses by addressing pest and disease pressures and to help them comply with nitrogen, pesticide and water regulations. He also plans to develop crop guidelines based on difficulties associated with specific soils in the Capitol Corridor.

The native of Logan, Utah, earned his undergraduate degree at Utah State and his master's degrees in soil science and international agricultural development at UC Davis.

“After graduation, I spent a few years working in the private sector, where I gained a sense of respect for bottom lines and the hustle to make ends meet,” Mathesius said. “I intend to bring the question of cost and efficiency into most, if not all of my work.”

Based in Woodland, Mathesius can be reached at kpmathesius@ucanr.edu and (530) 666-8704.

Kathryn Stein
Stein joins ANR as AVP executive assistant

Kathryn Stein has joined ANR as executive assistant to Wendy Powers, Associate Vice President 

Prior to joining ANR, Stein worked in the College of Engineering Dean's office at UC Berkeley for three and a half years. She earned a B.S. in environmental horticulture and urban forestry from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis. While in Davis, she worked for the Whole Earth Festival, an annual sustainability festival on the UC Davis campus.  

Stein is based on the 10th floor of UCOP and can be reached at Kathryn.Stein@ucop.edu  and (510) 587-6240.

Martinez and Au receive NIH Career Development Awards

Two researchers at the Nutrition Policy Institute have been awarded K01 Career Development Awards by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Lauren Au will research disparities in the relationship between the school nutrition environment and childhood obesity and Suzanna Martinez will study sleep duration and risk for obesity in Mexican-American children.

Martinez will receive $895,620 and Au will receive $840,871. Martinez has also been accepted into the K Scholars Program at UC San Francisco, which will provide her with peer support and mentorship to conduct the study.

Barbara Allen-Diaz
Allen-Diaz honored by APLU

Barbara Allen-Diaz, who retired as ANR vice president in 2015, is among five Land Grant university leaders recognized for Excellence in National Leadership by the Experiment Station Section of the Association of Public and Land‑grant Universities (APLU).

The other individuals honored with Allen-Diaz were:

  • Walter A. Hill, Dean, College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences, Tuskegee University
  • Steve Slack, formerly associate vice president for agricultural administration and director of OARDC, The Ohio State University (recently retired)
  • Daniel Rossi, formerly executive director, Northeastern Regional Association of State Agricultural Experiment Station Directors (recently retired)
  • William (Bill) Brown, dean of research and director of the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Tennessee

The resolution reads in part: “These leaders have personified the highest level of excellence by enhancing the cause and performance of the Regional Associations and Experiment Station Section in achieving their mission and the Land-grant ideal.”

The awards were announced at the annual Experiment Station Section meeting on Sept. 21 in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 5:00 PM

UC ANR introduces Zoom for online conferencing

UC ANR is ready to roll out Zoom conferencing to all UC ANR staff and academics, announced Gabe Youtsey, chief information officer.

“Zoom is the easiest to use high-quality video, phone and web conferencing service on the market,” said Youtsey. “After an extensive analysis, the UC has established a systemwide Zoom contract for a very low cost, which UC ANR IT is covering. Our goal is for Zoom to become the common tool for communication within the division, and for collaboration with campus and external teams worldwide.”

Zoom can replace Skype, Adobe Connect, GoToMeeting and ReadyTalk. Some of Zoom's features include:

  • Super easy video conferencing on your computer, mobile device, or room system for up to 50 connections
  • Unlimited phone conferencing for up to 50
  • Ability to support large meetings with up to 100 and webinars up to 500 participants (see instructions below)
  • Enabled for PC, Mac, Android and iOS devices
  • Compatible with any existing teleconference phones from Polycom, Tandberg, LifeSize etc.

Everything you need to log in and get started using Zoom is at http://ucanr.edu/sites/zoom. If you have a UC ANR portal account and @ucanr.edu email address, log in at https://ucanr.zoom.us.

Additional Zoom features are available to ANR employees:

  • ANR has a license for a 100-participant meeting (two-way communication), which can be reserved for occasional use at no cost.
  • ANR has a license for 500-participant webinars (one-way communication, which can be reserved for occasional use at no cost.
  • There are a range of large meeting and webinar licenses you can purchase as “add-ons” for your exclusive use if needed. Contact the IT Service Desk for more information.
  • Zoom Rooms is a great way to connect conference rooms to the Zoom service for high-quality video, phone and web conferencing. Contact the IT Service Desk for more information for equipment and pricing information.

For help to get Zoom up and running, contact the ANR IT Service Desk at help@ucanr.edu or call (530) 750-1212.

Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 10:44 AM

UC Food Observer launches newsletter

Now it's easier to keep up with the latest food and agriculture news from UC Food Observer. Just sign up for updates delivered to your email inbox twice each month.

It's a convenient and fast way to keep informed on must-read news about food policy, nutrition, agriculture and more, curated by the University of California as part of its UC Global Food Initiative.

Your email is only used for these newsletters. It is never used for spam. To sign up, please visit www.ucfoodobserver.com and enter your email address in the Subscribe box.

If you have any questions, please contact assistant editor Teresa O'Connor at Teresa.OConnor@ucop.edu

Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 9:01 AM

UC ANR takes part in its first CUCSA meeting

UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston addresses CUSCA delegates from around the state.
At its September meeting, the Council of UC Staff Assemblies (CUCSA) voted unanimously to admit delegates from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. Now for the first time, UC ANR staff have representation in the statewide organization.

CUCSA delegates – who represent all the UC campuses, UCOP and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – meet quarterly to work on special projects of interest and importance to UC staff across California, share local staff assembly best practices, and learn about advances being made by UC academics and high-level UC leadership.

UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston was a guest at the September CUCSA meeting. She outlined the origins of the division, the activities of UC ANR specialists and advisors, and introduced future plans.

Humiston noted a difference between UC ANR's network of nine research and extension centers and the UC Natural Reserve System.

“In the Natural Reserve, scientists look, but don't touch,” Humiston said. “In UC ANR, we plow, we burn, and we plant on our research and extension centers.”

Humiston has a long-time commitment to the value of working landscapes in California. She chartered an action team on working landscapes for the California State Economic Summit.

“Working landscapes are responsible for 1.2 million jobs and $318 billion in direct sales and exports,” Humiston said. “We're a key part of California's economy.”

Under her leadership, ANR has become a part of the University Economic Development Association, which advances knowledge and practice in economic engagement by institutions of higher education.

“I believe it's all about partnerships and collaboration – synergy,” Humiston said.

The CUCSA representatives for UC ANR are senior delegate Lori Renstrom, office manager for UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego County, who will serve until June 2017; and junior delegate Jeannette Warnert, public information representative for UC ANR Strategic Communications, who will serve until June 2018. A new “junior delegate” will be elected by the UC ANR Staff Assembly in spring 2017.

Renstrom is part of the CUCSA workgroup “Mental Health, Stress and Work-Life Balance,” which will review the impacts of increasing student enrollment and ongoing change initiatives as well as the challenges caused by the economy, family demands and other personal factors on staff's mental well being, identify available resources and make recommendations to address staff needs.  Warnert is part of the “UC Community Workgroup,” which will review staff diversity statistics across the UC system and obtain staff input about the diversity efforts at their locations. This information will help the workgroup identify best practices, challenges and recommendations for improvements.

All CUCSA workgroups complete a white paper which is presented to the UC Board of Regents at the end of the term.

If you're interested in learning more about ANR Staff Assembly, go to http://staffassembly.ucanr.edu/

Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2016 at 8:44 AM

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