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.
In his personal time, Chen enjoys playing guitar and venturing across California with his partner and Australian Shepherd.
Chen is headquartered at Hopland Research and Extension Center and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @GrapeProblems.
Ian Smith has joined Human Resources as manager of employee and labor relations. He succeeds MaryVlandis, who retired in June. He will oversee the staff human relations and employee and labor relations functions.
Smith comes to UC ANR from the UC Systemwide Human Resources/Labor Relations Division of the Office of the President, where he has worked extensively in the collective bargaining process for the last eight years.
Prior to his work with UCOP, Smith worked in human resources in nonprofit human services as well as public utilities, and he has a wide range of HR experience in both the private and public sector on both the management and union sides.
He holds a Master in Public Administration degree and an undergraduate degree in music.
Five scientists affiliated with UC ANR are among 564 newly elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science announced Jan. 26.
AAAS fellows are scientists, engineers and innovators who have been recognized for their achievements across disciplines ranging from research, teaching and technology, to administration in academia, industry and government, to excellence in communicating and interpreting science to the public.
Helene Dillard, dean of UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, was selected “For exemplary contributions to cross-disciplinary academic administration and global public outreach; for research in plant biology, ecology and management of fungal diseases; for agricultural production; and for mentoring and teaching.”
Linda J. Harris, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, was selected “For distinguished contributions to the field of food safety microbiology especially related to control of Salmonella and other pathogens in low-moisture foods and fresh produce.”
Kathryn Uhrich, dean of UC Riverside's College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and a participating faculty member in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, was selected for her contributions to the field of biodegradable polymers “that serve a critical need in therapeutics/drug delivery and service to the chemistry community.”
Rodrigo P. P. Almeida, UC Berkeley professor of emerging infectious disease ecology and the Hildebrand-Laumeister Chair in Plant Pathology, was selected for distinguished contributions to the field of ecology, particularly for experimental and modeling work on the ecology, evolution and management of insect-transmitted plant pathogens.
Paolo D'Odorico, UC Berkeley professor of environmental science, policy and management, was selected for major scientific advances in ecohydrology and food-water-energy systems.
An induction ceremony for the new fellows will take place during the AAAS annual meeting, to be held online this year Feb. 17-20.
Founded in 1848, AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science and other journals. Its mission is to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement and more.
Jaspreet Sidhu, UCCE vegetable crops advisor in Kern County, has been named one of the Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 by fruit and vegetable industry members across the country.
This honor is reserved exclusively for outstanding young industry professionals who are demonstrating exceptional commitment to making their mark in the industry through innovation and leadership.
Sidhu's applied research and extension program is directed towards developing, evaluating, and implementing pest management practices in commercial vegetable cropping systems. The overall goal of her program is to enhance the profitability and sustainability of vegetable production in Kern County and across California. Sidhu earned her B.S. and M.S. from Punjab Agricultural University in India and her Ph.D. in entomology from Louisiana State University.
The Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class of 2021 was honored during a reception at the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO on Dec. 7. Gary Pullano, editor of Fruit Growers News, and Stephen Kloosterman, associate editor of Fruit Growers News, presented the honorees with a certificate and gift bag.
Read more about the Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class of 2021 at https://vegetablegrowersnews.com/40under40.
Anita Oberholster, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, was selected by the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) as the 2022 Leader of the Year.
CAWG President John Aguirre said, “Dr. Oberholster is an esteemed researcher and leading voice as an educator and expert on the complicated issues surrounding wildfire smoke and winegrapes. Her relentless drive to help by sharing her expertise and frequent communication have been incredibly beneficial to growers and vintners, and CAWG appreciates all that she has done for California's winegrowers.”
The Leader of the Year Award recognizes an individual whose record of exceptional leadership has benefitted California's wine industry and is an inspiration to others. The recipient has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to issues of significant importance to winegrape growers and has achieved lasting changes to promote and protect the interests of California winegrape growers.
As a UCCE specialist, Oberholster focuses on continuing education for the grape and wine industry, while her research program concentrates on current issues in the grape and wine industry. Her core research program focuses on the influence of viticultural practices and environmental factors on grape ripening and composition, and related wine quality and investigations to determine the influence of different vinification practices on wine composition and quality.
Since 2017, smoke exposure in winegrapes has become one of her primary research subjects. She is investigating the absorption of volatile phenols on to grapes and the subsequent impact on wine composition and quality. Oberholster has been instrumental in the research and dissemination of information regarding smoke exposed fruit. She has been an active member of the West Coast Smoke Exposure Task Force and a presenter for CAWG-supported webinars and meetings.
Oberholster received the award on Jan. 25 during the 2022 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento.
Light wins Conservation Education Award
Sarah Light, UC Cooperative Extension agronomy advisor for Sutter, Yuba, and Colusa counties, won the Conservation Education Award from the Soil and water Conservation Society's California/Nevada chapter. Light and Liz Harper, executive director of Colusa Resource Conservation District, share the award for Soil Health Connection, a series of videos they produced. The award was presented Jan. 7 during a webinar.
The Soil Health Connection connects farmers with experts in the fields of soil health and agronomy. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, soil health consists of five principles: soil armor, minimal soil disturbance, plant diversity, continual live plants/roots, and livestock integration.
Light and Harper interviewed farmers, scientists, policy advocates, and farm advisors who are involved in improving soil health in the Sacramento Valley. The 35 videos range from a two-minute video demonstrating a soil nitrate quick test to longer interviews about soil health, grazing, cultivation practices and policy.
See the Soil Health Connection on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRI4lXL4f_ro_Flnp4lu6IA.
The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB) has designated Lorrene Ritchie as a Platinum Author.
Over the past 10 years, Ritchie has been author or co-author of more than 10 papers published in JNEB, according to Editor-in-Chief Karen Chapman-Novakofski.
“We recognize that authors have many choices when selecting the right place to publish and are pleased that you have chosen JNEB, the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior's peer-reviewed journal, so often as an outlet for your research,” Chapman-Novakofski wrote. “We hope you will consider JNEB for your papers in the future to continue advancing research, practice and policy. We truly appreciate the excellent manuscripts you send.”
“I don't know about you, but I'm really excited to have this gathering,” VP Glenda Humiston said, as she greeted the people attending the 2018 ANR Statewide Conference in Ontario. More than 650 people participated in the conference held April 9-12 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Ontario Airport. Humiston noted it was the first time since 2013 that all ANR employees had been invited to meet with their colleagues in person and discuss their work.
There were keynote presentations, science sessions, trainings, program team and workgroup meetings, numerous breakout sessions to attend, puzzles to solve in the resource room, a pop-up studio for News and Information Outreach in Spanish interviews and dozens of research posters to read. ANR leaders discussed how to chart a sustainable future for ANR. Wendell Brase, UC Irvine associate chancellor for sustainability; Sam Traina, UC Merced vice chancellor of research and economic development; and Kathryn Uhrich, UC Riverside dean of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, whose research has spawned start-up companies, discussed opportunities for innovation. Wendy Powers, associate vice president, announced the winners of the Distinguished Service Awards.
And in between, there was time to network with colleagues over meals and in the hallways.
ANR partners also joined the event, including members of the UC President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“Think about what California's agriculture would be like without Cooperative Extension,” said California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, ex-officio PAC member and keynote speaker for the first day. “It doesn't just happen because of great farmers. It happens because of great partnerships. ANR is in every county.”
“I cannot tell you enough, what an asset you are to this state and to the industry that I love, agriculture, and to every consumer who has the joy of imbibing in our beverages and foods that come from these marvelous lands.”
Unique role in UC
On Tuesday afternoon, UC President Janet Napolitano joined the group. She called out ANR's work in climate change adaptation, agricultural innovation, food systems, food security, and nutrition education and noted the unique role it serves in advancing UC's Global Food, Carbon Neutrality, UC-Mexico initiatives.
She lauded 4-H for achieving parity in Latino youth participation in its programs, saying, “I think that says a lot about ANR's values and the impact it can have.”
Praising UCCE's outreach to economically disadvantaged Californians, the president said, “I'm going to continue to fight hard for funding for these programs at the federal level.”
Napolitano said she was pleased with the overall federal budget, noting that Congress increased funding for the National Institutes for Health and the National Science Foundation. “The University of California gets more NIH and NSF funding than any other university in the country. Almost 10 percent of the NIH research budget comes to the University of California so we have a lot at stake in those federal funds.”
For updates on UC's state and federal budgets, Napolitano urged everyone to sign up at https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/support-uc/ucan.
On the Huron report recommendations for moving ANR out of the Office of the President's structure, Napolitano said she has appointed a committee to review the options and offer its own recommendations before the November regents meeting.
The crowd was inspired by Antwi Akom, UC San Francisco and San Francisco State University professor and founding director of Social Innovation and Urban Opportunity Lab (SOUL) and co-founder and CEO of Streetwyze. In his presentation “Race, Space, Place and Waste: How Innovation, Education, and Inspiration Can Fearlessly Catalyze California Towards Becoming the World's Leader in Agriculture and Natural Resources Management,” Akom spoke passionately about building more pathways for a more diverse array of Californians to participate in ANR programs.
“That's the first time I've seen members of the audience follow a keynote speaker out of the room,” Mark Bell, vice provost for Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs, later commented on the rock star treatment Akom received after his talk.
In her closing comments of the conference, Humiston said, “It was heartwarming to hear so many people tell legislators that ANR programs are important to them,” at the California Farm Bill hearing April 11 in Sacramento. If approved, the bill introduced by Assemblymember Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) would enable ANR to hire 45 more UCCE advisors and would offer incentives to adopt agricultural technology.
Concerning UC's budget challenges, Humiston said ANR is facing reductions in funding that will be absorbed through a slowdown in hiring and other means.
“There will be no layoffs. I took this job to grow ANR not shrink it,” she said emphatically. “The more the people of California understand what ANR does, the more they want us to thrive and be in place to better serve their needs.”
Humiston declared the conference productive and successful and thanked the Strategic Initiative leaders and conference and steering committee for planning the event and the Program Support Unit and volunteers for their hard work.
Doug Parker, Water SI, and Keith Nathaniel, Healthy Families and Communities SI, were the executive co-chairs and David Doll, Sustainable Food Systems; John Harper, Sustainable Natural Ecosystems; and Cheryl Wilen, Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases, were co-chairs.
The steering committee was composed of Michael Anderson, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, UC Riverside; Mark Bell, Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs/Institutes; Sherry Cooper, Program Support Unit; John Fox, Human Resources; Chris Greer, UCCE San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties; Brad Hanson, Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis; Darren Haver, South Coast Research and Extension Center and UCCE Orange County; Mike Janes, Strategic Communications; Maggi Kelly, Informatics and Geographic Information Systems and UC Berkeley; Neil McRoberts, Department of Plant Pathology, UC Davis; Katie Panarella, Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences Program and Policy; Maurice Pitesky, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis; Joni Rippee, Program Planning and Evaluation; Rachel Surls, UCCE Los Angeles County; and Patti Wooten-Swanson, UCCE San Diego County.
ANR leadership plans to host the next ANR Statewide Conference in 2021.
Continue the conversations
To see snapshots from the conference on Twitter, search for the hashtag #UCANRconf2018.
If you missed the poster sessions, most of the project posters can be seen by clicking on the title links at http://ucanr.edu/sites/statewideconference2018/Posters_and_Displays.
“I've heard great things about a number of the sessions and have been discussing some follow-up ideas to build on concepts covered during some of those sessions,” Wendy Powers wrote in her ANR Adventures blog. “It would be a disappointment if we all left the meeting, got caught up in our obligations and programs, and didn't continue the conversations.”
Kicking off the meeting by expressing sympathy for everyone affected by wildfires – including the ANR members and Master Gardener volunteers who lost their homes – UC President Janet Napolitano met with the President's Advisory Commission (PAC) at their biannual meeting Dec. 13 at the Courtyard by Marriott in Emeryville.
President Napolitano focused her remarks on the challenges that remain with our food system, saying that she sees endless possibilities for ANR to bring food and ag together with science and technology for agricultural innovation. She also praised ANR for expanding access to its programs and achieving parity in participation of Latino youth in 4-H activities.
Napolitano invited the PAC members to join the UC Advocacy Network, or UCAN, to keep informed about state and federal issues that impact the university.
VP Glenda Humiston introduced Anne Megaro, governmental and community relations director. Megaro, who has a Ph.D. in animal science and was the California State Senate Committee on Agriculture's consultant for five years, spoke about her background and discussed how she is working with academics to cultivate relationships with elected officials by sharing stories about their work.
“Every legislator should know ANR because we're in their district,” Megaro said.
“How can I help you talk about ANR?” she asked the PAC members, who responded positively.
Gabe Youtsey, chief innovation officer, described how the Internet of Things, data analysis, robotics, artificial intelligence, drones and plant biotechnology are helping farmers cope with challenges, including workforce shortages, water scarcity and pest pressure. The Apps for Ag hackathons have produced useful tools, but poor rural connectivity is limiting the benefits.
He also described the recently launched The VINE, which is designed to catalyze a statewide system to support innovation, entrepreneurship, expand economic opportunities and develop new technology for agriculture, natural resources and rural communities. Youtsey said food and agriculture need “patient capital” investors because venture capitalists desire a fast return on their investment.
Associate Vice President Wendy Powers briefed the commission on ANR's strategic plan. Our “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” is for every Californian to recognize the positive impact ANR has in their lives. The actions will be guided by UCANR's core values: excellence, community, innovation, inclusion, collaboration and integrity. Public value statements are being developed to shape our efforts and “they will give us the elevator speech to articulate who we are and what we do,” Powers said.
In the deans' updates, Keith Gilless announced that in June he will be stepping down as dean of the College of Natural Resources after 11 years to return to his academic work in fire research. Deans Helene Dillard of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Kathryn Uhrich of the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Michael Lairmore of the School of Veterinary Medicine and Gilless shared news of awards and large grants received and major projects underway in their respective colleges and school.
In wrapping up the meeting, Humiston announced that Mike Mellano, Dina Moore and Jean Marie Peltier will represent California in Washington D.C. for the CARET (Council on Agriculture Research, Extension and Teaching) meeting in March to advocate for agricultural research and the Farm Bill.
She invited the PAC members to meet next in April in Ontario, in conjunction with the ANR statewide meeting.
“We visited offices of 26 of California's 55-member congressional delegation in two days!” said Lucas Frerichs, government and community relations manager.
On March 6-9, a UC ANR delegation attended the 35th Annual Council on Agriculture Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) meetings in Washington D.C. CARET is part of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). They also made congressional visits to explain the importance of science and research to California.
Vice President Glenda Humiston was joined by AVP Wendy Powers, UCB College of Natural Resources Dean Keith Gilless, UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences Dean Kathryn Uhrich, Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie, UC Cooperative Extension Specialist Clare Gupta, Chief Innovation Officer Gabe Youtsey, and Frerichs. Industry partners Bill Frost, former UC ANR AVP; Cher Watte, executive director of the California Asparagus Commission; Mike Mellano, fresh cut flower grower; Dina Moore, Humboldt County rancher; and Jean-Mari Peltier, managing partner of Environmental Solutions Group, served as CARET delegates from California.
The group split up into teams to visit the offices of Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, agriculture committee members, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and other California representatives.
Although no U.S. secretary of agriculture had been confirmed at the time of their visit, members expressed their support for agriculture.
“One thing that members of Congress – Republicans and Democrats – can certainly agree on is that the support for agriculture and the University of California is strong,” Frerichs said.
Read more about the CARET visits in Powers' ANR Adventures blog.
“Kathryn Uhrich has excelled as an academic administrator, interdisciplinary researcher and inspiring educator. Her multidisciplinary research has spurred new technologies as well as creative collaborations with agricultural and plant researchers,” said D'Anieri. “We are very much looking forward to her arrival at UCR.”
D'Anieri expressed his appreciation for the dedication of interim dean Cynthia Larive, professor of chemistry, and for the effort of the search committee, led by Michael Pazzani, UCR's vice chancellor for research.
Uhrich, a distinguished polymer chemist, served from 2009 through 2013 as dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers. Serving more than 300 faculty in six departments, she developed programs to increase research and teaching collaborations between departments and colleges in the university. Working with the department chairs, she led the modification of the university's promotion process to recognize contributions of academic leadership. Under her leadership, support for research funding and assistance with applications for extramural funding increased along with university investments in new approaches to teaching science.
“UCR's commitment to excellence in interdisciplinary research, inclusion, education, and international engagement strongly aligns with my experience and expertise,” said Uhrich. “The excellence within the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences is well-known by scholars, and it is an honor to join the faculty and leadership team of UC Riverside. I am excited to work with staff and faculty to further academic excellence, as well as with students and alumni who have benefited from UCR's commitment to excellence.”
Both as dean and leading member of the Rutgers faculty, Uhrich worked with the university leadership and state legislators to initiate the construction and design of a new chemistry/science building to expand both the research and teaching capacity of the faculty. Previously, as graduate program director in the chemistry and chemical biology department, Uhrich worked to diversify the graduate program to include more women and people of color. Working with alumni, she raised funding to create new fellowships to support graduate students.
Uhrich's research links chemistry with the life sciences and engineering disciplines to create new materials and design new devices in which polymers can be used to increase health and extend life. Widely recognized as a leading innovator in polymer research, Uhrich's research focuses on designing bioactive, biodegradable polymers for use in drug delivery, food safety and personal care. She has been issued more than 70 U.S. and international patents, and her work has spawned several start-up companies, including Polymerix Corporation, which created biodegradable delivery systems for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and coatings for surgical implants.
Uhrich has authored more than 140 peer-reviewed papers. She has also collaborated extensively with colleagues in this country and overseas, and worked in close partnership with companies such as Chanel, DuPont, Exxon Mobil, Johnson & Johnson and Merck.
Uhrich earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Cornell University, and her B.S. in chemistry, with honors, from the University of North Dakota.
In her work at Rutgers, she has been a champion of enhanced STEM education for women and people of color. As dean, Uhrich worked with departments and the University to ensure inclusive practices for faculty – from faculty hiring, to faculty promotion and recognition. As a board member of the Rutgers' Office for the Promotion of Women, Science, Engineering and Mathematics, Uhrich worked to foster supportive environments for students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds. As a researcher, Uhrich's interest in mentoring the next generation of scientists is reflected by the composition and size of her research team: she has supervised 60 Ph.D. students from four departments and more than 80 undergraduate students.
Uhrich's professional experience includes stints as a visiting professor at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the University of New South Wales, Australia. Her research lab has hosted dozens of visiting scientists from across the globe including Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Netherlands, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Scotland, and Turkey. Through various roles, Uhrich champions institutional support for international research at Rutgers. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and also worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories and at Eastman Kodak.
In addition to her status as a fellow of the American Chemical Society, she is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Bioactive and Compatible Polymers and a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Members of the search committee were
- Michael Pazzani, Vice Chancellor, Research and Economic Development (Chair)
- Ward Beyermann, Associate Professor, Physics
- Anupama Dahanukar, Assistant Professor, Entomology
- Jay Gan, Professor, Environmental Sciences
- Cheryl Gerry, Financial and Administrative Officer, CNAS
- Mikeal Roose, Chair and Professor, Botany and Plant Sciences
- Frances Sladek, Professor, Cell Biology
- Glenn Stanley, Professor, Psychology
- Sue Wessler, Distinguished Professor, Botany and Plant Sciences
- Preston Williams, President of the Graduate Student Association
- Jose Wudka, Professor, Physics and Astronomy
- Francisco Zaera, Distinguished Professor, Chemistry