“In the coming decade, the stresses on the U.S. food and agricultural enterprise won't be solved by business as usual – either in the field or in our current research efforts,” said Susan Wessler, the Neil and Rochelle Campbell Presidential Chair for Innovations in Science Education and distinguished professor of genetics at UC Riverside, who was a co-chair of this important new study.
Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Davis, served on the Committee on Science Breakthroughs 2030: A Strategy for Food and Agricultural Research, and other UC academics were involved in reviewing content for the 200-page book.
The urgent progress needed today, given challenges such as water scarcity, increased weather variability, floods and droughts, requires a convergent research approach that harnesses advances in data science, materials science, information technology, behavioral sciences, economics and many other fields.
The committee identified five breakthrough opportunities that take advantage of a convergent approach to research challenges and could potentially increase the capabilities of food and agricultural science dramatically:
- A systems approach to understand the nature of interactions among the different elements of the food and agricultural system can be leveraged to increase overall system efficiency, resilience, and sustainability.
- The development and validation of highly sensitive, field-deployable sensors and biosensors will enable rapid detection and monitoring capabilities across various food and agricultural disciplines.
- The application and integration of data sciences, software tools, and systems models will enable advanced analytics for managing the food and agricultural system.
- The ability to carry out routine gene editing of agriculturally important organisms will allow for precise and rapid improvement of traits important for productivity and quality.
- Understanding the relevance of the microbiome to agriculture and harnessing this knowledge will improve crop production, transform feed efficiency, and increase resilience to stress and disease.
They include recommendations for a range of federal agencies, as well as federal and private funders and researchers.
“It is very gratifying to see a strong recommendation for enhanced support to the Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension systems as vitally important infrastructure!” VP Glenda Humiston said.
Humiston and other UC ANR leaders are considering how UC ANR might best use the ideas presented in the report.
The report is available for free download at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25059/science-breakthroughs-to-advance-food-and-agricultural-research-by-2030.
Macon named livestock and natural resources advisor
Macon, who operates a small-scale commercial sheep enterprise near Auburn, brings a combination of hands-on livestock production experience and applied scientific research and education/outreach experience.
Having been the herdsman at the UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center, and most recently serving as an associate specialist for rangeland science and management in the UC Davis Plant Sciences Department, Macon is a familiar face to many in ANR. He is currently collaborating on a variety of research efforts, including on-ranch impacts, management and planning horizons following California's historic drought. He has also led producer enrollment, data collection and grazing-water-nutrient management tracking for a statewide integrated research and extension project on irrigated pasture. He is also leading a long-term project that will quantify direct and indirect impacts from predators on rangeland livestock operations across northern California.
Macon has also worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the California Cattlemen's Association, and was the founding executive director of the California Rangeland Trust. He is currently the vice president of the California Wool Growers Association and is a past president of the California-Pacific Section of the Society for Range Management.
Macon earned a Master of Agriculture in integrated resource management from Colorado State University and a Bachelor of Science in agricultural and managerial economics from UC Davis.
“I have finally recognized that the parts of my earlier jobs that I most enjoyed involved the things I'll be doing on a daily basis as a farm advisor - teaching and doing research,” Macon wrote in his Foothill Agrarian blog. “Along with raising sheep, I feel as though I've finally figured out what I'm supposed to do in life!”
“I have enormous shoes to fill - Roger Ingram and Glenn Nader, who have proceeded me in these four counties, were incredibly productive and successful advisors.”
Spinelli named vegetable and irrigation advisor
Before joining UCCE, Spinelli had worked as agricultural specialist for the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz County since 2015. He performed irrigation system evaluations, implemented an irrigation water and soil moisture monitoring project, and provided recommendations for irrigation management and improvements in irrigation systems, assisting the strawberry, lettuce, apple, vegetable and blackberry industries.
From 2010 to 2015, Spinelli was a graduate student researcher in the Plant Sciences Department at UC Davis, where his research focused on water stress and water use at the leaf and canopy level in almond orchards in California.
Spinelli grew up on an olive and vegetable farm on the hills overlooking Florence, Italy. He left Italy in 2007 to work in Honduras on an irrigation development project providing technical assistance for smallholder corn and watermelon growers, and in London designing and installing landscape irrigation systems. He also lived in Lebanon, where he introduced integrated pest management in apple and olive production, rebuilt irrigation channels for tobacco and vegetable growers, implemented a queen bee breeding program and built sewage lines for the Wavel refugee camp. In addition to English, he speaks French, Italian and Arabic.
Spinelli earned a Ph.D. in horticulture and agronomy and a M.S. in international agricultural development from UC Davis and a M.S. in tropical agricultural development and a B.S. in agricultural sciences and technologies from the University of Florence, Italy.
Based in Modesto, he can be reached at (209) 525-6806, (530) 304-3738 (cell) and email@example.com.
Vela to lead News and Information Outreach in Spanish
Before joining UC, Vela was the news director and main anchor for KVER-TV Univision in Palm Springs. Vela launched his journalism career in the third grade by starting a school newspaper in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. He was the news correspondent for Univision News in Los Angeles bureau for over 10 years, then moved to San Diego where he was the news anchor/producer for the Univision affiliate for 14 years. In 2014, Vela moved to his hometown of El Paso, Texas, to be the news anchor/producer for KTDO-Telemundo 48.
In 1992, he won an Emmy for his story about a Latino family coping with their last days before dying of AIDS and preparing their children for their loss. In 2005, Vela received an Emmy for a news feature, “Los Trovadores del Siglo 21.”
In 2001, Hispanic Business Magazine named Vela one of the 100 most influential Hispanic journalists in the country for his journalistic vision to voice the needs of the Hispanic community in San Diego. He expanded his commitment to the community by writing a weekly column for the El Latino newspaper about issues pertinent to Hispanics in San Diego. In 2004, The San Diego Press Club honored his newspaper column and morning radio talk show, Voces de San Diego, which had been on the air only a few months, and he was named one of the 10 most influential Latinos in San Diego by Tijuana's Frontera newspaper.
On Feb. 28, 2006, the City of San Diego honored him with a proclamation of “Ricardo Vela Day” for his contributions to the Latino community through his radio show.
Vela earned a bachelor's degree in business administration at Instituto Tecnologico de Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and a bachelor's degree in mass communications/journalism at the University of Texas at El Paso. He also studied film and video at the Art institute in Chicago.
Vela is based at the Rubidoux Building in Riverside and can be reached at (951) 781-2151 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANR women graduate from UC Women's Initiative Program
They were among a group of mid-career women, both staff and faculty, selected from all UC locations to participate in this special program created to improve the professional development and advancement of women at UC.
The four-session program was designed by the Systemwide Advisory Committee on the Status of Women and UC Systemwide Talent Management, and delivered by CORO, a nonprofit leadership development organization.
- Cultivate a vibrant, professional network of women that spans the UC system
- Give women access to top UC leaders—women and men—so they can interview and learn from them about their diverse leadership approaches and journeys
- Strengthen participants' skills and confidence through hands-on practice with a range of tools and skills in the areas of:
- Professional development and impact
- Strategic relationship building
- Developing and delivering a compelling narrative regarding one's professional accomplishments and vision
- Negotiating at work
- Peer coaching
The program is designed for mid-career women, both faculty and staff, who demonstrate the potential to advance their careers at UC. Last year, Katherine Webb-Martinez and Tunnyalee Martin participated in the training.
Van Eenennaam tapped for national research strategy
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine sought nominations for scientific leaders across various disciplines to be part of an activity that will develop a compelling strategy for food and agricultural research for the next decade and beyond. Nominations were sought for transformational thinkers across the scientific enterprise (including but not exclusively limited to the agricultural sciences) to be considered for the study committee. These include individuals on the frontier of scientific disciplines that would be of value but are not traditionally associated with food and agriculture.
In addressing its statement of task, the study committee will offer a strategic and ambitious view of the opportunities for fundamental and applied interdisciplinary research that is both grounded by a deep scientific understanding of food and agricultural challenges and elevated by the breakthrough potential of insights and tools from newly converging disciplines in the food and agriculture setting.
Susan Wessler, the Neil A. and Rochelle A. Campbell Presidential Chair for Innovations in Science Education and distinguished professor of genetics at UC Riverside, is co-chair of the committee.
For more information about the study, visit http://nas-sites.org/dels/studies/agricultural-science-breakthroughs/who-we-are-agriculture-breakthroughs/committee.
The Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy at UC Davis is hosting a screening of the movie Food Evolution May 2 at 7 p.m.
From Academy Award-nominated director Scott Hamilton Kennedy (The Garden, Fame High, OT: Our Town) and narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Food Evolution explores food security, sustainability and how to feed an ever-growing population. The film provides an in-depth look at the role of genetically engineered crops in agriculture, tackling this controversial topic to address the larger issue of how science and research are often misunderstood by the public. For more information about the film, visit http://www.foodevolutionmovie.com/#home.
The event will begin at 6 p.m. with an Info Fair in the lobby of the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, on the UC Davis campus, with displays by the Plant Breeding Center, the Seed Biotechnology Center, the Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy, Science Says and UC Davis Dining Services.
The movie will begin at 7 p.m. followed by a panel discussion and audience Q&A featuring director Scott Hamilton Kennedy, producer Trace Sheehan, UCCE specialist Alison Van Eenennaam, professor Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchak, former coordinator of the UC Davis Student Farm. The discussion will be moderated by Christine Bruhn, UCCE food marketing specialist emeritus.
Early Bird tickets are $7.50, available online only at EventBrite. A limited number of tickets will be sold at the door for $10.
To purchase tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/food-evolution-movie-screening-tickets-33645400298. Please print your ticket and bring it with you to the event.
Our own Alison Van Eenennaam, UC Cooperative Extension specialist, is among the nominees in the Feeding People category.
You are invited to vote for your favorite BIO Future Makers. Vote for your top three choices each day (1 submission per email address per day will be strictly enforced). See contest rules.
The individuals with the most votes in each category will receive VIP Access to BIO 2016, a speaking opportunity in the IMAGINE Theater, as well as features in email, web and social media.
Voting is open until 11:59:59 pm ET on April 1, 2016. Winners will be notified in mid-April and announced at the 2016 BIO International Convention in San Francisco, June 6-9.
Read more at http://convention.bio.org/futuremakers/voting.aspx./span>
UC ANR held a seminar for credentialed journalists on the first day of the World Ag Expo in Tulare. The Feb. 9 seminar featured 11 key UC ANR academics who serve as expert sources for the news media on hot topics.
The seminar was hosted by VP Glenda Humiston. Each of the UCCE advisors and specialists delivered a three-minute synopsis of his or her research and outreach efforts in California, such as the spread of Asian citrus psyllid, adapting to climate change in agriculture, GMOs and more. Afterwards, they fielded questions from the reporters.
“The Newsmakers Seminar was well-attended and well-received by reporters so we plan on hosting a similar event at next year's World Ag Expo,” said Jeannette Warnert, senior public information representative in Strategic Communications, who spearheaded the seminar. “In the fall, we will be looking for academics who are interested in building relationships with reporters to take part in the 2017 event.”
Agricultural trade reporters filed stories on several of the subjects and exchanged business cards with the scientists for future reference. The Kaweah Commonwealth newspaper published two stories by John Elliott about the seminar: On the cutting edge of agriculture: World Ag Expo's Newsmakers Seminar reveals current research and Newsmakers' Seminar reveals current research, Part 2.
The following academics participated in the seminar:
- Beth Grafton-Cardwell, Ph.D. – UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist in citrus entomology and director of the UC Lindcove Research and Extension Center
- Jeff Dahlberg, Ph.D. – UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist in agronomic crops and director of the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center
- Bob Hutmacher, Ph.D. – UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist in cotton and director of the UC West Side Research and Extension Center
- Lindsay Jordan – UC ANR Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor for Merced, Mariposa and Madera counties
- Rose Hayden-Smith, Ph.D. – UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor, editor of the UC Food Observer blog, part of UC President Janet Napolitano's Global Food Initiative
- Themis Michailides, Ph.D. – UC ANR pathology researcher, based at Kearney Ag REC
- Jeff Mitchell, Ph.D. – UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist in conservation agriculture, based at Kearney Ag REC
- Toby O'Geen, Ph.D. – UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist in soil resources, based at UC Davis
- Tapan Pathak, Ph.D. – UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist in climate change adaptation in agriculture, based at UC Merced
- Maurice Pitesky, Ph.D. – UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist in poultry food safety, based at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
- Alison Van Eenennaam, Ph.D. – UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist in animal biotechnology, based at UC Davis