- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
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.
Resnick is based in the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tracy Roman joined UC ANR as associate director for the Business Operations Center on Feb. 15.
For the past 27 years, Roman worked for UC Davis Stores (Bookstore) in multiple positions, the last decade as the associate director of finance. She also was the bookstore's coordinator of commencement for students, served on the UC Student Health Insurance Plan committee and was a member of UC Davis' administrative management group called ADMAN.
During her tenure with the bookstore, Roman coordinated the student health vending machine, got SNAP accepted on campus, developed “Relax and Restore” (an event to help student de-stress during finals week), helped get an Amazon store located on campus, and served as project manager for Equitable Access.
Roman is based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at email@example.com.
Maru Fernandez joined ANR as associate director of statewide programs operations and research and extension centers on Jan. 24.
Fernandez, who has worked for UC since 2011, served as Financial Services Supervisor for the UC ANR Business Operations Center in 2020 and 2021. She has also worked in Contracts and Grants Accounting at UC Davis, as a fund manager.
She earned a B.S. in entrepreneurial management and marketing from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Fernandez is based at the UC ANR building in Davis and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Waisen is based in Indio and can be reached at email@example.com and (760) 342-2467.
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.
Levy is headquartered at the South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Morris is based in San Jose and can be reached at (408) 201-0674 and email@example.com.
Rita Clemons joined UC ANR as UCCE director in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties on Dec. 1, 2021. By assuming administrative responsibilities for the three counties, Clemons' hiring allows Darren Haver, Janet Hartin, Chris McDonald and Stephanie Barrett to focus on their research and extension.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Clemons was the regional center director for Cambridge College-Southern California, creating visibility for the college by developing strong partnerships and relationships with local community organizations. She managed day-to-day operations; recruited, interviewed and recommended faculty; supervised faculty and staff; resolved complaints from constituents; represented the college at events; assessed academic and student service needs; recommended new programs and developed agreements to market the college.
The Pomona native began her corporate career working in human resources for law firms in Los Angeles. She moved to higher education, first as a recruiter for Claremont Graduate University's School of Politics and Economics, and eventually becoming a program administrator for the School of Information Systems and Technology.
Clemons earned a degree in paralegal studies at the Southern California College of Business and Law, bachelor's degree in business administration at the University of Phoenix, and a master's degree in management with a concentration in leadership at Claremont Graduate University.
Clemons is based in Moreno Valley and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Urban IPM team wins CDPR IPM Achievement Award
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation presented a 2021 IPM Achievement Award to Karey Windbiel-Rojas, associate director for Urban & Community IPM, and fellow UCCE advisors Andrew Sutherland, Niamh Quinn and Siavash Taravati for their integrated pest management work in urban settings.
The advisors play important roles in encouraging IPM implementation in urban settings throughout California. As urban IPM advisors, they conduct research, provide training and publish resources to promote IPM adoption. Their research topics include urban IPM, organic herbicides, bait-only cockroach management programs, bedbugs, rodent and coyote management in the wildland-urban interface, red imported fire ants, and municipal IPM.
They received the award during a virtual meeting on Feb. 22.
WeedCUT wins CDPR IPM Achievement Award
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation also presented a 2021 IPM Achievement Award to the California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) and members of the UC Integrated Pest Management Program for science-based tools and resources to control invasive weeds in California.
With funding from the DPR Alliance Grants Program, Cal-IPC and Tunyalee Martin, associate director for communications, Chinh Lam, IT supervisor and lead programmer, and Cheryl Wilen, emeritus IPM advisor, published the “Best Management Practices for Non-Chemical Weed Control” manual and released an interactive online tool called WeedCUT, which helps users make informed decisions about managing weeds without using chemicals.
“We're very fortunate that DPR has funded version 2 of WeedCUT to add herbicide information,” Martin said. “This will make the tool a complete, one-stop shop for natural areas weedy plant management.”
Ken Tate received the Society for Range Management's 2022 W.R. Chapline Land Stewardship Award on Jan. 10 during the society's annual meeting in Albuquerque. The award recognizes exceptional accomplishments and contributions in range management.
Tate, professor and Rustici Endowed Specialist in Rangeland Watershed Sciences with UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis, has contributed to the conservation of California's rangelands over the past three decades. His research and extension focus on natural resources and sustainable agricultural enterprises. Recommendations from his work have had significant impacts in guiding ranchers and state and federal land management agencies.
Tate has led multiple teams to develop research, education and extension programs to proactively address concerns about fecal microbial pollution from rangeland cattle.
Early in his career, he worked to inform public interest groups on the risk of pathogenic contamination of San Francisco's drinking water supply. Working with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Tate helped stakeholder groups identify management practices to reduce risks of drinking water supplies being contaminated by livestock-borne Cryptosporidium parvum, allowing ranching families to continue sustainable grazing practices on Bay Area watersheds. Since then, he has led numerous collaborations to examine the movement of other pathogens; bacterial indicators of water quality such as fecal coliforms and Enterococci; and hormones and pharmaceutical products common in rangeland cattle production.
Tate has published 120 peer-reviewed journal articles and secured over $14 million in research and extension grants. His scientific leadership and expertise in the livestock grazing-environmental quality-human health nexus have been sought out nationally and internationally. Most importantly, Tate has become a trusted source of information through his work with private landowners, public land managers, conservation groups, regulatory agency staff and policymakers to support science-based decision-making.
Blake Sanden, emeritus UCCE farm advisor, received an Honoree Award from the California Chapter of the American Society of Agronomy.
As a result of Sanden's research, many almond growers started to put more water on their trees. And average Kern County almond yields increased by 65% between 2002 and 2011 compared to the previous 15 years, the Almond Board of California wrote in a story on its website.
Sanden retired in 2018 from his 26-year UCCE career.
“He was a champion on re-evaluating the water requirements for almond trees, which prior to his investigation was too little,” said Bob Curtis, the retired former director of agricultural affairs for the Almond Board of California.
“While there is no doubt that Blake had a big impact on California growers, he also had an impact on new farm advisors, including myself, as he was always there to help and transfer his knowledge and experiences to us as we started our new job as farm advisors,” said Mohammad Yaghmour, UCCE orchards advisor in Kern County.
Sanden received the award during the American Society of Agronomy's convention held via Zoom Feb. 1-3.
Kate Scow and Daniel Sperling, UC Davis professors, have been elected as members of the National Academy of Engineering.
Kate Scow is a distinguished professor emeritus of soil microbial ecology in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources. The academy honored her for “elucidating the role of soil microbial communities in polluted ecosystems and their responses to agricultural management practices,” according to an NAE statement.
The newly elected class will be formally inducted during the NAE's annual meeting on Oct. 2.
Pam Ronald, UC Davis plant geneticist, has been named the recipient of the 2022 International Wolf Prize in Agriculture, given by the Jerusalem-based Wolf Foundation in recognition of her “pioneering work on disease resistance and environmental stress tolerance in rice.”
Ronald is a distinguished professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, having joined the faculty in 1972, and is also affiliated with the UC Davis Genome Center and the Physical Biosciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The Wolf Foundation noted her work isolating a gene that allows rice to survive two weeks of flooding and increases yield by 60% compared to conventional varieties. “Her discoveries show an advanced understanding of fundamental biological processes and enhance sustainable agriculture and food security,” the foundation said in its announcement of her prize.
Flood-tolerant rice varieties are now grown by more than 6 million subsistence farmers in India and Bangladesh. The committee noted that those two countries lose more than 4 million tons of rice each year to flooding, enough to feed 30 million people.
Ronald founded the UC Davis Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy to provide the next generation of scientists with the training they need to become effective communicators. She and her husband, Raoul Adamchak, an organic farmer who retired in 2020 as the market garden coordinator for the UC Davis Student Farm, are the authors of Tomorrow's Table: Organic Farming, Genetics and the Future of Food.
The foundation has been giving its $100,000 prizes in agriculture and other disciplines since 1978, honoring scientists and artists from around the world “for their achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations amongst peoples.” – Kat Kerlin
Getts, Haviland, Nobua-Behrmann appointed to CISAC
UC Cooperative Extension advisors Tom Getts, David Haviland and Bea Nobua-Behrmann have been selected to serve on the California Invasive Species Advisory Committee.
This group advises the Invasive Species Council of California, which is composed of the secretaries of California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, California Health and Human Services Agency, and the Office of Emergency Services.
The Apps for Ag hackathon, which was spearheaded by Gabe Youtsey, chief information officer, brought software developers, designers, entrepreneurs, farmers and others who work in agriculture to the ANR building for a weekend to create apps to address agricultural issues.
The first place team, GivingGarden, took home $7,500 in prize money, custom rodeo belt buckles and a six-month, top-tier membership to the AgStart Incubator in Woodland.
The hyper-local, produce-sharing app provides gardening advice from the UC Master Gardener Program and enables backyard gardeners to connect with others who want to share their produce. The GivingGarden team members are Scott Kirkland, Josh Livni, Deema Tamimi and John Knoll.
The top three teams will also receive complimentary startup incorporation services valued at $2,200 from Royse Law.
All of the participating teams had about 48 hours to develop their apps. Teams that were interested were offered $500 in “cloud credits” to build their solutions and host them on Amazon Web Services' platform. Teams also had access to an IoT kit to incorporate connected devices into their solution.
The top four teams pitched their apps to judges in front of a live audience at the California State Fair.
The event was sponsored by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, the California State Fair and the City of Sacramento.
“It's really important for UC ANR to be involved in app development because as farmers and natural resource managers face ever-increasing challenges – climate change, invasive pests, the need to conserve water – technology is one of the ways to find solutions,” said VP Glenda Humiston.
“Using technology we can find better ways to reduce pesticide use, increase irrigation efficiency, reduce travel into the fields, manage people better, and deal with the fact that we have a huge labor shortage in this state,” said Humiston, who served as one of the Apps for Ag judges.
The other judges included University of California Chief Information Officer Tom Andriola, USDA Chief Data Officer Bobby Jones, and Better Food Ventures and Mixing Bowl Hub founder Rob Trice.
VP Humiston has announced the winners of the 2015-16 UC ANR Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) awards, which recognize and reward outstanding individual and team performance of Agriculture and Natural Resources staff.
STAR awards allow managers to nominate staff who demonstrate exceptional performance, creativity, organizational abilities, work success and teamwork. The nominations were reviewed by a panel, which made recommendations to me.
Fourteen individuals won awards:
- Steve Dreistadt, Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program – “We at UC IPM, and those throughout ANR who have worked with him, respect and value Steve's integrity and commitment to communicating high-quality scientific information to solve pest problems.”
- Janie Duran and Marci Holmes-Baker, Kearney Agricultural Research andExtension Center/Lindcove Research and Extension Center – “During the past 14 months, they have assisted in the hiring and training of three business officers for Lindcove REC in addition to their many responsibilities at KARE, clearly demonstrating exceptional service and performance. Their organizational procedures have been adopted by the new staff at Lindcove REC, leading to greater efficiency in tracking accounts and recharging researchers.”
- Brook Gamble, California Naturalist Program – “Brook combines a broad understanding of the program with the attention to detail of a copy editor and the creativity of a graphic artist. Brook's insistence on quality, knowledge of the field and sheer volume of work make her an invaluable asset to the California Naturalist Program.”
- Leah Haynes, Master Gardener Program in UCCE Ventura County – “Her work in Ventura County is known throughout the state for excellence and high achievement. Ventura County Master Gardeners are ‘On Fire' with activity and excitement – Leah is a big part of that.”
- Allison Keaney, 4-H and Youth Development in UCCE Marin County – “Allison formed and led the growth and expansion of our 4-H in the Classroom program… The result has been a two-fold increase in the number of youth participating. She has become a leader for the UCCE Marin team by creating cross-discipline programming that leads to broader reach and greater impact for all programs combined.”
- Melissa LaFreniere, UCCE in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties – “Her contribution to our nutrition education team is invaluable, and she is always working behind the scenes to suggest and implement the most efficient way possible to deliver our programming. She is an exemplary employee with exceptional creativity, organizational and teamwork skills.”
- Chinh Lam, Integrated Pest Management Program – “Chinh's greatest skills are his ability to listen to input without becoming defensive, analyze the changes that should come from them, and do the work to make those changes happen. I appreciate his forward thinking and exceptional team and project management skills.”
- Kimberly Rodegerdts, Risk & Safety Services – “Kim has implemented a new program to centralize and consolidate the monitoring and management of background checks and criminal record data… I've heard many comments praising Kim's clear and helpful instructions, her quick response to any questions, and an appreciation of the volume of work she has accomplished.”
- Cole Smith, UCCE in Santa Clara County – “Cole has exceeded the expectations of TAC and UCCE for the compost program by developing a strong and diverse volunteer force and consistently delivering effective workshops on composting and waste reduction. His passion and interest in expanding the program has contributed to its notoriety and success.”
- Heidi Von Geldern, Contracts & Grants – “Heidi is committed to helping our customers and improving our team to assist UC ANR. She provides outstanding customer services. We rely on Heidi for her calm assessment of problematic situations and her directed strategies to resolve them.”
- Aubrey White, Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program (SAREP) – “Her persistence, creative energy, and professionalism was instrumental in gaining us a new website that has garnered positive feedback from our stakeholders for appearance and accessibility of information. She has created communications products that are exceptionally effective.”
- David White, Human Resources-Affirmative Action – “David went above and beyond in collecting and analyzing data in response to a comprehensive USDA NIFA review. He developed creative formulas to improve the required reports, and worked long hours to meet short deadlines.”
- May Woo, UCCE San Mateo/San Francisco – “As a nutrition educator, May maintains the highest quality standards and commitment to excellence. May Woo has been one of those bright stars that has quietly provided stability and guidance to UC CalFresh and UCCE San Mateo/San Francisco counties over the years.”
- Asian Citrus Psyllid Public Education Campaign Team: Jeannette Warnert, Tyler Ash, Myriam Grajales-Hall, Alberto Hauffen, Ray Lucas, Elizabeth Grafton-Cardwell and Mark Hoddle – The campaign successfully helped convey to California citrus tree owners the threat posed by ACP and the steps they can take to mitigate the hazards. UC ANR's Strategic Communications team thoughtfully brought together several key resources and components to execute an outreach plan, resulting in positive, quantifiable results.
- UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in Placer/Nevada counties: Rosemary Carter, Olivia Kosten, Carrie Yarwood, Megan Thompson, Michele Fisch and Annette Cosgrove – The team has exceeded expectations by integrating physical activity and reaching new audiences such as afterschool youth programs. More than 2,600 low-income school children receive nutrition education, and more than 10,000 adults learn about nutrition through workshops, newsletters and social media.
- UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program in Central Sierra: Wendy West, Gretchen Birtwhistle, Hector Ochoa, Natalie Alfaro-Perez, Monica Drazba, Emily Metzger, Stacy Arhontes and Sandra Sturzenacker – Team achievements include delivering nutrition education to underserved, Spanish-speaking clientele in Lake Tahoe; collaborating with Boys and Girls Clubs in El Dorado County to provide physical activity resources and training utilizing the CATCH program; and establishing a Nutrition Education Partnership with FoodCorps.
The STAR winners received their awards at the Special Staff Meeting and Recognition Event June 16 at the UC ANR building in Davis.