Thanks to increased support from the California Legislature, we are rebuilding our academic footprint across the state and adding new positions to address California’s most pressing issues. We are so excited to welcome these new team members!
- Clebson Goncalves (diversified agriculture advisor; Lake and Mendocino counties)
- Barb Satink Wolfson (fire advisor; Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties)
- Saoimanu Sope (communications specialist, Strategic Communications)
- Eric Middleton (IPM advisor; San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties)
- Kristen Farrar (communications and proposal coordinator, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program)
- Cameron Zuber (orchard crops advisor; Merced and Madera counties)
- Chris Shogren (environmental horticulture advisor, Los Angeles County)
- Hardeep Singh (local food systems advisor; Central Sierra: Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and El Dorado counties)
- Joy Hollingsworth (table grape advisor; Tulare and Kings counties)
- Luca Carmignani (fire advisor; Orange and Los Angeles counties)
- Amrita Mukherjee (urban agriculture and small farms advisor; Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties)
- Carolyn Warne (director, California 4-H Foundation)
- Ricky Satomi (forestry and natural resources advisor; Western Sierra region: Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Nevada and Placer counties)
- Kirsten Pearsons (small farm advisor; San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties)
- Erika Armstrong (4-H program representative; Tuolumne County)
- Amira Resnick (director for Community Nutrition and Health)
- Chris Chen (vineyard advisor; Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties)
- Philip Waisen (vegetable crops and small farms advisor; Riverside and Imperial counties)
- Natalie Levy (associate specialist for water resources; Orange County)
- Julie Morris (agricultural liaison, Santa Clara County)
Diversified agriculture advisor
Lake and Mendocino counties
Clebson Goncalves joined UC Cooperative Extension on July 1 as a diversified agriculture advisor serving Lake and Mendocino counties.
Prior to moving to Cailfornia, Goncalves was a postdoctoral researcher working on the management of turfgrass and ornamental crops for a USDA-SCRI project at the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech.
He has a bachelor's degree in agronomy (focused on plant pathology) and a master's degree and Ph.D. in agronomy sciences (plant production/ weed science) from Brazil as well as an additional master's degree in crop and soil science (turfgrass/weed science) from Auburn University. He led field, greenhouse and lab research with a broad focus on plant production, crop protection and weed sciences.
Goncalves' current research centers around diversified agricultural farms, including vegetables, fruit and nut crops. He is also interested in integrated weed management practices exploring chemical and organic options, improving pesticide application technology, drone use for data collection, pesticide application and pollinator-serving plant communities.
Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties
Barb Satink Wolfson began in her role as UC Cooperative Extension fire advisor for Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties on June 30.
Her primary responsibilities include wildland fire-related research and outreach for the Central Coast region, while building trust, strong partnerships and collaborative relationships within both professional and non-professional communities.
Satink Wolfson earned her B.S. and M.S. in forestry from Northern Arizona University, and brings to UC ANR more than 20 years of fire-research and outreach experience in Arizona. Her favorite job, though, was working as a backcountry ranger in Yosemite National Park during her undergraduate years.
In her new role, Satink Wolfson hopes to address some of the questions behind the use of prescribed fire in a variety of ecosystems (such as coastal prairies and oak woodlands), and help all Central Coast communities build resilience to wildland fire so residents can live safely within fire-adapted landscapes.
Communications specialist, Strategic Communications
Saoimanu “Saoi” Sope joined UC ANR Strategic Communications as a communications specialist on June 7.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Sope worked in tobacco control policy for the state of California and focused on how to generate effective messaging when targeting elected officials and priority populations. As a project coordinator, Sope launched a podcast as a new communication platform and produced episodes featuring John Mirisch, the former mayor of Beverly Hills, and other representatives of cities that successfully phased out the sale of commercial tobacco products.
Early in her career, Sope worked as a communications specialist for Driscoll's in Watsonville. While her background involves four years of professional experience in communications, it was at Driscoll's that Sope developed a passion for environmental health and desire to merge her creative talent and professional interests.
Sope earned a bachelor's degree in film and digital media and community studies from UC Santa Cruz and a Master of Public Health degree in environmental health science and certificate in toxicology from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
Using her background in film production and public health, Sope is eager to take UC ANR's storytelling to the next level. Her goal as a member of the Strategic Communications team is to not only make UC ANR a household name, but to engage underserved communities.
San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties
Eric Middleton, known as the “Bug Ninja” to fans of the television show “American Ninja Warrior,” began his new role as an integrated pest management advisor at UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego County on June 6.
As an advisor, Middleton is focused on increasing knowledge and diversifying tools to discourage pesticide use for conventional agricultural practices. As an entomologist, however, Middleton is eager to challenge the way humans perceive and interact with insects by identifying pest management practices that are beneficial for the ecosystem overall.
Now that he is living in San Diego, an area with diverse agriculture and floriculture, Middleton said that he is excited for the opportunity to work with different plant types and farms on a regular basis.
Before joining UC ANR, Middleton worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Florida's Citrus Research and Education Center, developing management options for the Lebbeck mealybug in Florida citrus.
Middleton earned a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Utah and a doctorate in entomology from the University of Minnesota.
Communications and proposal coordinator, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
Kristen Farrar has joined the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program (SAREP) as communications and proposal coordinator.
Farrar will be responsible for coordinating SAREP's communications for stakeholder education, outreach and engagement. She will also prepare grant proposals and coordinate SAREP's small grants program.
Before joining UC ANR, she was assistant director at Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis, where she worked to promote the use of virus-tested planting stock in specialty crops such as grapes and fruit trees. At FPS, she also served as National Clean Plant Network coordinator for NCPN-Grapes and co-chair of the NCPN Education & Outreach committee. She has held positions at several universities conducting research in plant pathology and teaching.
Farrar earned a bachelor's degree in environmental policy analysis and planning from UC Davis and a master's degree in plant pathology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Orchard crops advisor
Merced and Madera counties
Cameron Zuber has been named UC Cooperative Extension orchard crops advisor for Merced and Madera counties as of June 6. For Merced County, he will cover orchard crops such as stone fruit, walnuts and almonds, not including pistachios and figs. For Madera County, he will work with walnuts.
Zuber joined UC Cooperative Extension in 2016 as a staff researcher in Merced County. In his education and professional career, he has worked in understanding environmental and agricultural systems and their interactions with people, society and governance. Specifically with orchard crops, he has worked on fumigants and other soil pest controls, rootstocks and scion varietals, cultural practices relating to tree spacing and whole orchard recycling. He has also studied flood irrigation for groundwater recharge, irrigation and water management and soil, water and air interactions.
He earned his bachelor's degree in environmental biology and management from UC Davis and a master's degree in environmental systems from UC Merced.
Environmental horticulture advisor
Los Angeles County
Chris Shogren joined UC ANR on June 5 as the environmental horticulture advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County.
Shogren described his new role as “giving back to the community.” While he has more experience “growing plants than playing with insects,” Shogren's expertise includes all aspects of horticulture such as entomology, pathology, water use and more.
He earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture and agricultural business from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and a doctorate in entomology from UC Riverside.
Much of what he knows not only comes from his formal academic training, but what he learned from his parents. Shogren grew up in Hemet, 25 miles outside of Palm Springs, and spent his childhood working at his parents' wholesale nursery. Building rapport with nurseries comes naturally to Shogren and he has been advising them since his days as a Ph.D. student.
Early in his career, Shogren worked on horticulture for Disneyland before joining the Citrus Research Board, where he focused on biocontrol rearing. Prior to joining UC ANR, Shogren mass reared fruit flies for U.S. Department of Agriculture research.
As an advisor, Shogren's top priority is to develop his program by first understanding the local issues and the key players that are addressing them such as advisors, researchers and industry groups. He believes that doing so will paint a clear picture of where and how he can be the most effective.
Local food systems advisor
Central Sierra (Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne and El Dorado counties)
Hardeep Singh joined UCCE Central Sierra as a local food systems advisor on June 1.
He transferred from the UCCE Fresno office where he worked as an assistant specialist in small farms and specialty crops. Singh, who is from Punjab, India, worked closely with Southeast Asian small farmers, African American farmers, Latino farmers and Punjabi farmers on healthy soil practices, the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program, Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, and UCSF COVID-19 Equity Project since 2020. He also worked as a vineyard operations intern with UCCE Fresno in the summer of 2019.
Singh holds a master's degree in plant science from California State University, Fresno with a distinction as Dean's Graduate Medalist. He also holds a bachelor's degree in agriculture from Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, Punjab, India.
His research background includes crops such as moringa, cover crops, wine grapes, almonds, pistachios and citrus. He also has research experience in irrigation scheduling and nutrition management in moringa, wine grapes, almonds and citrus.
Singh is interested in developing crop coefficients, studying nitrogen dynamics in specialty crops, and reducing production costs for small farms, which aligns with his goal of reducing poverty by engaging with socially disadvantaged communities and moving agriculture toward greater self-sustainability.
Table grape advisor
Tulare and Kings counties
Joy Hollingsworth began working as the new UCCE table grape advisor serving Tulare and Kings counties on May 16.
Prior to becoming a table grape advisor, Hollingsworth served for three years as the UCCE nutrient management/soil quality advisor for Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties. In that position she worked on research and extension projects in a variety of agricultural systems, including work on dairy manure, cover crops and biostimulants in raisin grapes.
Previously, Hollingsworth spent six years working as a research associate for the University of California on agronomic cropping systems, including sugar beets, canola and sorghum.
She earned a master's degree in plant science from California State University, Fresno, and a bachelor's degree in communication from UC Davis.
Orange and Los Angeles counties
Luca Carmignani joined UCCE as a fire advisor for Orange and Los Angeles counties May 2. His research interests include image analysis, computer programming and scientific outreach.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Carmignani was a postdoctoral researcher in the Berkeley Fire Research Lab at UC Berkeley. His research has focused on fire and combustion applications, from wildland fires to material flammability.
He earned his Ph.D. in engineering sciences from the joint doctoral program between UC San Diego and San Diego State University after obtaining his bachelor's and master's degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Pisa in Italy.
Carmignani is based at South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine and can be reached at email@example.com and (949) 237-2956. Follow him on Twitter @l_carmignani. More information. Back to top.
Urban agriculture and small farms advisor
Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties
Amrita Mukherjee joined UC ANR on April 1 as an urban agriculture and small farms advisor serving Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties.
Mukherjee's priority is to understand small farms' practices and needs, and to identify opportunities for improvement and/or collaboration. One challenge that Mukherjee is eager to overcome is getting information to farmers in a timely and organized manner.
“There's so much information out there and it's hard to know who is doing what,” she said. By implementing a communication system, Mukherjee believes that supporting small farms will become more efficient.
Originally from Bangladesh, Mukherjee grew up in a family of farmers and understands the struggles farmers encounter as laborers and as a business. Her upbringing inspired her to not only pursue a career in agriculture, but to alleviate the hardships that often burden farmers.
Previously, Mukherjee worked for the International Rice Research Institute where she examined flash flood risk-management in her homeland. She also worked for the Horticulture Innovation Lab management team at UC Davis as an assistant specialist in Bangladesh, focused on nutrition impacts of horticultural innovations.
Mukherjee earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture from Khulna University, a master's degree in biotechnology from Bangladesh Agricultural University, and a master's degree in horticulture, plant biology and post-harvest physiology from Kansas State University.
While she has dedicated the first few months of her role to networking, Mukherjee feels that building rapport with small-scale farmers is an ongoing process that is crucial to her role as an advisor.
When asked what she is most excited about, Mukherjee said that she wants to help farmers grow. Not just their crops, but their business strategy and network. “I don't want to be a supervisor, I want to be a connector,” explained Mukherjee.
Director, California 4-H Foundation
Carolyn Warne has joined UC ANR as California 4-H Foundation director, succeeding Mary Ciricillo, who was promoted in October to UC ANR director of development, managing UC ANR's major gifts team including the foundation director.
Warne brings more than 20 years of fundraising and communications experience in education, sports and arts. She recently moved back to California from England, where she was most recently grants manager for Petersfield Cricket Club. She was responsible for sourcing funding for club projects, which ranged from building renovation to purchasing equipment to providing coaching costs to introduce sports activities in schools.
Earlier in her career, Warne was responsible for internal and external communications, marketing and fundraising at four different schools, developing multi-channel approaches to student and staff recruitment, brand awareness and fundraising. She also worked for a government-funded organization, assisting local community groups with funding and organizational needs and providing training and grant-writing support.
Before moving to the U.K., she worked in the development offices of several higher education institutions, including Cornell, Iowa State and San Diego State, recruiting and working with volunteers and raising funds.
Forestry and natural resources advisor
Western Sierra region (Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Nevada and Placer counties)
Ricky Satomi joined UCCE Sutter-Yuba on March 15 as an area forestry and natural resources advisor in the Western Sierra Region (Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Nevada and Placer counties). He specializes in forest management with a focus on new technologies and wood products.
Prior to moving to UCCE Sutter-Yuba, Satomi served as a UCCE area forest advisor working on forestry and youth education issues for Shasta, Trinity and Siskiyou counties.
Satomi earned a Master of Forestry looking at the cost efficiency of forest mastication treatments, and a B.S. in forestry & natural resources and society & environment, both from UC Berkeley. He has also worked as a field forester working on various inventory and timber management programs throughout California.
In the coming year, he hopes to offer workshops for forest landowners and professionals around novel GIS tools, climate-smart silvicultural practices, reforestation best practices, and workforce development opportunities.
Small farm advisor
San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties
Kirsten Pearsons joined UC Cooperative Extension on March 1 as a small farm advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. She is developing research and extension programs focused on integrating soil health practices and pest management strategies for small-scale farmers and specialty crops.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Pearsons was a postdoctoral researcher at the nonprofit Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, where she focused on studying and promoting organic and regenerative agriculture. She worked on Rodale's long-term Farming Systems Trial, studying how organic and reduced-till field crop production affects long-term farm economics, soil health and water quality compared to conventional practices.
She earned a Ph.D. in entomology at Pennsylvania State University and a B.S. in environmental toxicology at UC Davis.
Pearsons is based in San Luis Obispo and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (805) 788-9486. She will be posting event information and resources for small-scale farms in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties on Instagram @ucceslosmallfarms. More information. Back to top.
4-H program representative
Erika Armstrong has joined the UCCE Central Sierra team as 4-H Program Representative for Tuolumne County.
Armstrong, who has spent her career working with nonprofit agencies and managing volunteer programs, worked with United Way Monterey County and the Alliance on Aging. She also was a campaign manager for a candidate for the Board of Supervisors of Monterey County. Her most recent job was stay-at-home mother for her daughters.
She holds a bachelor's degree in collaborative health and human communication from California State University Monterey Bay.
Director, Community Nutrition and Health
Amira Resnick joined UC ANR as director for Community Nutrition and Health on Feb. 15.
"We look forward to Amira bringing her enthusiasm and experience to help continue the growth of our nutrition and health work across the state," said Associate Vice President Wendy Powers. "Our historical impact in these areas – and more recently the growing concerns around COVID-19 and food security – highlight the importance of and need for this work.”
Prior to joining UC ANR, Resnick was senior manager with Alliance for a Healthier Generation based in Los Angeles. In that position, she has spearheaded new, innovative multisectoral partnership development, secured funding opportunities, and implemented projects to advance environmental and systemic change toward whole child health. Previously, as Statewide Family Services coordinator with Telamon Corporation, she led program implementation across 17 Migrant Head Start sites with 500 employees, serving over 1,000 families.
Resnick holds a master's degree in public administration from the University of Southern California and a bachelor's degree in cultural anthropology with a minor in Spanish from the University of Michigan.
“The position will further refine our vision for growth in the areas of nutrition and health and will oversee the network of nutrition and health work implemented across the state through the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program; CalFresh Healthy Living, UC program; and UC Master Food Preserver program,” said Mark Bell, vice provost of strategic initiatives and statewide programs.
Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties
Christopher Chen joined UC Cooperative Extension Jan. 10 as an integrated vineyard systems advisor for Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties.
Chen earned a B.S. in agronomy, a B.A. in economics, an M.S. in agronomy with specialization in viticulture and a Ph.D. in horticulture and agronomy with specialization in viticulture, all at UC Davis.
While in the master's program at UC Davis, Chen researched the efficacy of shade nets as heat-damage reduction tools for wine grapes at the UC Oakville Research Station in Napa Valley. He also assisted in field projects across California ranging from Delano and Paso Robles to Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. During his doctoral studies, Chen tested the salinity tolerance of wild and cultivated grapevine rootstocks stored at the UC Davis germplasm collection.
Vegetable crops and small farms advisor
Riverside and Imperial counties
Philip Waisen joined UC Cooperative Extension as a vegetable crops and small farms advisor in Riverside and Imperial counties on Jan. 10.
He is developing research and extension programs focused on pest and disease management and plant nutrient management in vegetable agroecosystems.
Prior to joining UCCE, Waisen was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he worked on Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education-funded research projects on nematode and soil health management in tomatoes, peppers, cucurbits, asparagus, banana and brassicas. During 2021, Waisen served as a part-time lecturer teaching plant pathology, research methods, and horticultural sciences courses for his alma mater, the Papua New Guinea University of Technology.
He earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in plant pathology/nematology, plant and environmental protection sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a B.S. in agriculture and plant disease at Papua New Guinea University of Technology.
Associate specialist for water resources
Natalie Levy joined UC Cooperative Extension on Jan. 3 as an associate specialist for water resources serving Orange County.
Levy will be designing and conducting water-related research and extension activities focused on the needs of both urban and agriculture systems. Based at the South Coast Research and Extension Center, she assists with the Climate Ready Landscape Plant irrigation trials, a collaborative Specialty Crops Multistate research project being conducted at several Western academic institutions. The data collected from the deficit irrigation trials are used to assess vigor and overall performance of landscape plants to identify low-water use plants that can be successfully grown in each climate and soil type.
Prior to becoming a UCCE specialist, Levy was a staff research associate at South Coast REC assisting with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation's study of storm and non-storm runoff within urban landscapes in OC. Before joining UC ANR, she worked for ecko360 as terrestrial division director, developing custom aerial imaging and modeling solutions for plant production systems.
She earned a Ph.D. in agricultural and extension education and evaluation and an M.S. in agronomy, both from Louisiana State University, and a B.S. in environmental science from UC Berkeley.
Santa Clara County
Julie Morris joined UCCE in Santa Clara County as agricultural liaison, a new UCCE position supported by the county Agricultural Division and UC ANR, on Jan. 3. Morris will facilitate and expedite agricultural projects in Santa Clara County.
“Julie will advance our mission to support economic and community development of local farms and ranches by coordinating across county departments and community groups to enhance food access and public health,” said Santa Clara County Agricultural Commissioner Joe Deviney.
Morris will help agricultural producers navigate the complex regulations and coordinate efforts for policy change and regulatory simplification. By working closely with a variety of partners, including farms and ranches, landowners, policy advocates, decisionmakers, community stakeholders and others, she will be instrumental in developing and administering new systems, policies, processes and programs supporting healthy food systems.
A longtime rancher and co-founder of T.O. Cattle Company, Morris is an advocate of local food systems. Her family's ranch direct markets grass-fed beef to customers throughout California. She was communications and government affairs manager at Earthbound Farm and has experience with federal and state agriculture policy, food access issues, and regulatory and compliance standards. She is also the former executive director of Community Vision San Benito County, part of the Community Foundation of San Benito County.
Morris holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from San Diego State University and is a graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership program, a two-year fellowship focusing on community involvement and leadership.