- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Elizabeth Moon joined UC ANR on March 3 as director of workplace inclusion and belonging. She will be responsible for developing and implementing ANR's diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and programs for our community. This position, an inaugural appointment, will be an integral collaborative partner to the ANR DEI Advisory Council. Moon will partner with ANR administrative and academic units, affinity groups and other ANR constituents on engagement strategies.
Moon comes to ANR with years of experience in assessing and building inclusive relationships within communities. In her previous position as chief diversity officer at UC Davis Graduate School of Management (GSM), she created the Action for Diversity GSM Community Group for students, staff, alumni and business partners to explore and challenge each other to create a non-partisan conversation of learning on issues surrounding systemic and individual racism. She collaborated on the creation of the GSM DEI Strategic Vision and Goals and built bridges for a larger LGBTQ+ presence at GSM.
Moon has an M.A. in teaching English as a second language from California State University, Sacramento, a B.A. in anthropology from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., and a National Association of Diversity in Higher Education Standards of Professional Practice Certificate. She is also an MBA Certified Coach.
Read more in Mike Hsu's A conversation with Elizabeth Moon.
Colleagues are invited to meet Moon at the DEI Alliance meeting at the ANR Statewide Conference on Monday, April 24, from 3:15-5 p.m. in Salon D at the DoubleTree in Fresno.
Moon is located in room 155 in the ANR building on 2nd Street in Davis and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (530) 883-1174.
Ahmed Kayad joined UC Cooperative Extension in January as an agricultural engineering advisor at the Intermountain Research and Extension Center.
He will address regional needs in relation to integrating and adapting new technologies related to mechanization, automation and precision agriculture into intermountain cropping systems. Kayad is eager to investigate differences in crop growth and development within agricultural fields in Modoc and Siskiyou counties using satellite, drone and ground sensors.
To help farmers make informed management decisions across their farming operations, one of Kayad's first objectives is to map fields for spatial and temporal yield variability to better understand management practices that increase crop production.
Prior to joining IREC, he was a postdoctoral researcher at UC Riverside. His recent research activities include monitoring crop yield through ground and remote sensing for alfalfa and corn, using drone images for weed detection in vegetable crops, and investigating the impact of digital solutions in agriculture. He worked as a service engineer at farm equipment manufacturer CLAAS in Egypt, specializing in hay balers and forage/grain combine harvesters. In 2020, he was a visiting doctoral researcher at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico.
Kayad earned a Ph.D in digital agriculture from the University of Padua, Italy, studying corn yield mapping through ground and remote sensing techniques. He earned a bachelor's and master's in agricultural engineering from Alexandria University, Egypt and King Saud University, Saudi Arabia respectively.
Kayad is located at the Intermountain Research and Extension Center in Tulelake and can be reached at email@example.com and (530) 667-5117.
Eddie Tanner joined UC Cooperative Extension on Jan. 3 as a specialty crops and horticulture advisor serving Humboldt and Del Norte counties.
He will be supporting the region's vegetable, fruit, flower and nursery growers with research-based technical assistance, collaborating with community partners to increase access to locally produced foods, and supporting the UC Master Gardeners.
Tanner has been involved in agriculture in Humboldt County for over 20 years as a farmer and a farm and garden educator. He holds a B.S. in wildland soil science from Humboldt State University and an M.S. in agriculture from Washington State University.
Tanner is based in the Eureka office and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Haris Gilani joined UC ANR on Jan. 9 as a UCCE biomass and bioenergy advisor serving Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
In this role, Gilani investigates opportunities and strategies for increasing the use of woody biomass through development of biofuels and bioenergy among other products. He will also work to enhance biomass management and natural resource manufacturing with strategies for reducing community risk from wildfires.
“I think the overarching aim is to develop sustainable markets for wood and biomass to support forest management and restoration activities across all forest lands in California,” Gilani said. “This will help achieve the state's climate change goals as well as promote long-term economic development and community resilience.”
Another important aspect of his role is communicating research-based information on efficacy of converting woody biomass into fuels for transportation and other products that are consistent with the state's Forest Carbon Plan, to the public, industry, government and relevant stakeholders.
Gilani earned a Ph.D. in forest products marketing from the University of British Columbia, Canada, a Master of Business Administration from Technical University Freiberg in Germany, and a bachelor's in mathematics and physics from the University of the Punjab in Pakistan.
Before joining UC ANR, Gilani worked at his alma matter in Canada as a postdoctoral fellow focusing on economic and market analysis of value-added wood products in BC. He also worked as an assistant project scientist at UC Berkeley researching biofuels, before he joined the State University of New York in Syracuse, where he developed a wood-based bioeconomy roadmap for NY State.
Gilani is based out of the UCCE Riverside County office in Palm Desert and can be reached at email@example.com.
Cassandra Nguyen joined UC Cooperative Extension on Jan. 3 as a specialist in the UC Davis Department of Nutrition.
Nguyen's long-term goal is to bridge the gap between "what we know" and "what we do" about food insecurity. Her research encompasses three areas of interest: revitalization of local food systems to increase diet quality and well-being among Native communities and families; integration of food insecurity screening into healthcare services to better address chronic diseases; and advancements in the charitable food system to increase equity and empowerment of clients.
Nguyen recently published a journal article on food bank strategies to promote nutrition and health.
She earned a Ph.D. in human nutrition and M.S. in nutritional sciences, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in dietetics from Central Washington University.
Nguyen is located in Meyer Hall at UC Davis and can be reached at (530) 752-3817 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gwenaël Engelskirchen began as the new sustainable food and farming coordinator with the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program in January.
After serving as SAREP's sustainable supply chain coordinator since 2015, Engelskirchen said she is looking forward to her new role as an academic coordinator to support farmers and ranchers in adopting more sustainable agricultural practices while strengthening regional food systems.
“Leveraging SAREP's emphasis and expertise on sustainability from ‘farm to fork,' I hope to bring research and resources to meet the needs of diverse clientele groups across California,” Engelskirchen said.
Key audiences and partners include agricultural producers, regional distributors, food hubs, institutional and retail buyers, community organizations and agencies that address food, farming and natural resource issues. In her previous capacity with SAREP, Engelskirchen launched the California Food Hub Network, a statewide learning network for regional, values-based food distributors.
In addition to earning bachelor's degrees in international development and women's studies from UCLA and a master's in community development from UC Davis, Engelskirchen has worked on and managed organic farms, both urban and rural. She has designed and organized workshops, field walks, webinars and educational events and delivered direct technical assistance for farmers in California and Arizona.
“I am continually drawing inspiration from my colleagues, collaborators, community and the land,” she said.
Engelskirchen is based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at email@example.com and (530) 792-8253.
Krystle Hickman has joined UC IPM as a senior producer-director based in Southern California.
The main focus of her work will be to take photos and videos of all pests such as insects, diseases, weeds and vertebrates, including the damage they cause. She will be updating and adding to the photos in the UC IPM photo database. She will be traveling up and down the state.
“We would like to invite advisors to reach out to Krystle if they would be willing to spend some time with her in the field to show her pests and damage in the crops that they work with,” said Cheryl Reynolds, UC IPM writer and interactive learning developer.
Hickman is a TEDx speaker, National Geographic Explorer, artist, community scientist and photographer based in Los Angeles. Her photography has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, books and scientific journals. A skilled photographer of California native bees, Hickman's work can be seen on her Instagram account @beesip.
Hickman works remotely from Southern California and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (530) 231-1741.
Grace Dean joined UC ANR on Jan. 16 as a Forest Stewardship communications specialist and is based out of the South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine.
Dean is responsible for identifying outreach opportunities to promote and increase audience engagement in Forest Stewardship Education workshops and programs. These initiatives engage forest landowners in creating management plans, connecting with natural resource professionals, and navigating cost-sharing programs. In this new role, she will create comprehensive media strategies that target landowners of all backgrounds and will continuously assess how these strategies can improve over time.
Dean recently earned a bachelor's degree in public affairs from UCLA with a focus in public policy, communications and environmental affairs. Previously, Dean interned for forestry-related organizations including the USDA Forest Service and TreePeople, a nonprofit organization that inspires individuals to take responsibility for the urban environment.
Dean is excited to learn more about forest management from her team and find creative avenues for information to reach new audiences. When she's not working, you can find her crocheting, volunteering at the local cat shelter, or tending to her succulents.
Dean is based out of the South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine and can be reached at email@example.com.
Brad Hanson was selected as a Fellow of the Western Society of Weed Science at its 76th annual meeting held Feb. 27-March 3 in Boise, Idaho. The Fellow Award is the highest honor of the society and recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the society and to the discipline of weed science.
“Brad has a long record of serving the society in leadership roles and was previously recognized as WSWS Outstanding Early Career Weed Scientist in 2011,” wrote Carol Mallory-Smith, Oregon State University professor emeritus. “In addition to WSWS, he is active in the California Weed Science Society and the Weed Science Society of America.”
Hanson, who has been a UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Davis since 2009, studies weeds in orchard and vineyard crops. He also provides weed science support for agronomic and horticultural crops and supervises the UC Davis IR-4 Field Research Center. From 2005 to 2009, he was a USDA-ARS research agronomist in Parlier, where he conducted research on soil fumigants and weed control in nursery crops.
“The committee recognized the productive career that Brad has had as a weed scientist,” Mallory-Smith wrote. “He has co-authored 92 peer-reviewed articles, 16 book chapters and extension publications, and more than 60 research papers presented at WSWS meetings. Brad and members of his lab delivered more than 500 extension presentations during his career at UC Davis. Brad is considered an excellent mentor for graduate students and young weed scientists.”
One letter of support for Hanson becoming a fellow noted that he is “committed to solving problems. He has the ability to blend curiosity-driven scientific advances with a problem-solving Extension mindset.
Whitney Brim-DeForest, UCCE director and rice advisor for Sutter and Yuba counties, received an Award of Excellence from the California Weed Science Society. She studies weeds in rice production systems.
California Weed Science Society gives Awards of Excellence to members who have made tremendous contributions to the society mission in the following areas: the information exchange through research, publications, facilitating cooperation among individuals, encouraging careers in weed science, and promoting professional growth of members. Two awards are given out annually to weed scientists or weed practitioners for an entire body of work, rather than a single achievement.
The award was presented by Anil Shrestha, CWSS past-president, at the California Weed Science Society's 75th meeting held Jan. 18-20 in Monterey
The women of Phi Mu Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. have selected , director for UC Cooperative Extension in Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties, as a 2023 Woman of Distinction for her outstanding contributions and years of service to the Inland Empire community. Zeta is a historically African American sorority formed in 1920 for college-educated women.
Born and raised in Pomona, Clemons knows firsthand the challenges associated with growing up in an economically challenged city. Clemons became the first in her family to graduate from college, earning degrees in paralegal studies and business administration and a master's degree in management. She has spent her career sharing her personal and professional experiences to help others achieve their goals.
Her first committee appointment was for the Inland Empire United Way, Women United Committee as vice chair. Clemons was then appointed to the board of directors for Ontario Youth Activities League, where she serves as Vice President. She is a current member of the Women of Hope committee for the Hope Through Housing Foundation. She has been a member of San Bernardino County Preschool Services Policy Council, Inland Empire United Way Executive Advisory Council, San Bernardino County Superintendent's West End Advisory Council, Mexican Consulate Education Liaison, California League of High Schools Educator of the Year Committee, Riverside County Early Literacy Conference Planning Committee, active member of Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario and San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce. She was also selected as a Fellow for the Center for Civic Policy & Leadership Healing Communities Through Racial Justice.
Clemons received the award at the sorority's Finer Womanhood Celebration in San Bernardino on March 25.
The California State Water Resources Control Board has appointed Kristin Dobbin—assistant professor of Cooperative Extension in the UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management—to the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) Advisory Group.
The SAFER Program is a set of tools, funding sources, and regulatory authorities designed to ensure all Californians are able to receive clean drinking water as quickly as possible. The program provides short-term fixes to address immediate public health needs while pursuing long-term solutions — ranging from water system upgrades to consolidation and regionalization — that make the state's water systems more sustainable and resilient.
Dobbin's research and outreach focus on water justice policy and planning, specifically the ongoing implementation of California's human right to water law AB 685. She will join members of the public and stakeholders from public water systems, technical assistance providers, local agencies, and nongovernmental organizations to advise the State Water Board as it advances the SAFER Program's goals.
The advisory group will meet up to four times a year across California to provide opportunities for public and community input.
For more information about the SAFER Program and advisory group, visit the State Water Board website.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Mohamed joins Kearney to research alfalfa irrigation
Abdelmoneim “Moneim” Mohamed joined UC ANR as project scientist – alfalfa irrigation management Feb. 1.
Mohamed will be working with Khaled Bali conducting research to identify the best irrigation management practices on alfalfa to enhance water use productivity while minimizing environmental impacts. The project focuses on crop growth and agronomic performance as affected by irrigation management, salinity and other factors.
Prior to joining UC ANR, Mohamed was an agricultural scientist for the Tropical Research and Education Center at the University of Florida. His previous work focused on modeling and optimizing the performance of moving sprinkler irrigation. He has also studied precision and automated irrigation.
After receiving his Ph.D. at Washington State University, Mohamed was an irrigation engineer for WSU Skagit County Extension Center working with extension agents and growers on improved irrigation practices, irrigation systems efficiency evaluation, and crop water use efficiency.
Mohamed earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering from Zagazig University, Egypt, a master's degree in land and water resources management: irrigated agriculture from IAMB, Italy, and a doctorate in biological and agricultural engineering from Washington State University.
Mohamed is based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (509) 781-4129 and on Twitter @moneim_z.
Brim-DeForest receives outstanding paper award
The Weed Science Society of America honored Whitney Brim-DeForest, UCCE rice and wild rice advisor for Sutter, Yuba, Placer and Sacramento counties, with its award for Outstanding Paper: Weed Science.
The award-winning paper, Phenotypic Diversity of Weedy Rice (Oryza sativa f. spontanea) Biotypes Found in California and Implications for Management is co-authored by Elizabeth Karn, biologist in U.S. EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs and former ANR staff research associate; Teresa De Leon, Short Grains Rice Plant Breeder for the California Rice Experiment Station and former UC Davis postdoc research scholar; Luis Espino, UCCE rice farming systems advisor for Butte and Glenn counties and UCCE director for Butte County; and Kassim Al-Khatib, UC Davis Melvin D. Androus Endowed Professor for Weed Science and Director of the UC Weed Information Center.
Over the past four years, Brim-DeForest, who holds the UC ANR Presidential Endowed Fellowship in California Rice, has focused her research on weedy rice, an emerging and important pest in California rice systems. In a relatively short amount of time, she and her team have conducted extensive research on California weedy rice including its genetics, identification, competition with cultivars, emergence, herbicide susceptibility, and even drone mapping.
The award was presented during the organization's virtual annual meeting Feb. 15.
DPR honors Spray Application Pest Management Alliance Team
In a ceremony on Feb. 18, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation presented a 2020 IPM Achievement Award to UC Spray Application Pest Management Alliance Team – El Dorado County for their achievements in reducing risk from pesticide use.
The Spray Application Pest Management Alliance Team, which includes industry and UC ANR members, is led by Lynn Wunderlich, UCCE farm advisor for the Central Sierra. The team aims to minimize the incidence of agricultural pesticide drift and reduce the risk of pesticide illness though training. The team developed an air blast sprayer calibration training program to increase pesticide applicators' adoption of best practices when using air blast sprayers. The training program is interactive and offers practical experience in key training topics.
“The highly effective training and the extensive outreach completed by the team make the Spray Application Pest Management Alliance Team an excellent recipient of an IPM Achievement Award,” wrote the person nominating the team.
The Spray Application Pest Management Alliance Team includes
- Wunderlich, UCCE farm advisor, Central Sierra
- Franz Niederholzer, co-principal investigator and farm advisor, UCCE Yuba, Sutter, Butte counties
- Maria Alfaro, community educator specialist, UC Statewide IPM Program
- Catherine Bilheimer, California Department of Pesticide Regulation grant manager
- Lisa Blecker, Pesticide Safety Education Program coordinator, UC Statewide IPM Program
- Stephanie Bolton, communications & sustainable winegrowing director, Lodi Winegrape Commission
- Matt Bozzo, chair, Yuba-Sutter Spray Safe; farm manager, Golden Gate Hop Ranch, Yuba City
- Luis Espino, UCCE rice farming systems advisor, Colusa, Glenn, Yolo counties
- Ken Giles, professor, UC Davis Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department
- Gwen-Alyn Hoheisel, Washington State University regional extension specialist
- Petr Kosina, Content Development Supervisor, UC Statewide IPM Program
- Peter Larbi, UCCE spray application specialist, Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center
- Ray Lucas, former videographer UC ANR Communication Services
- Tunyalee Martin, associate director for communication, UC Statewide IPM Program
- Louie Mendoza, Butte County agricultural commissioner
- Cheryl Reynolds, instructional designer, UC Statewide IPM Program.
- John Roncoroni, UCCE weed science farm advisor emeritus, North Coast
- Marcie Skelton, Glenn County agricultural commissioner
- Rhonda Smith, UCCE viticulture advisor emeritus, Sonoma County.
- Matt Strmiska, former Adaptiv CEO.
- Emily Symmes, former Area IPM advisor, Colusa, Glenn, Sutter-Yuba, Tehama counties
Cheryl Wilen, emeritus IPM advisor, was a technical advisor to All Kids Academy Head Start, Inc. in San Diego County, which received an IPM Achievement Award for its exemplary pest management program at 14 child care centers. This nonprofit organization's IPM program focuses on strong communication, careful monitoring, and active prevention to manage pests. AKA Head Start, Inc. partners with experts to find the most effective, lower-risk options to protect children in its care from pests and pesticide risk.
“One thing that they did that influenced me to nominate them is that they not only did a lot of IPM policy and implementation work in the school, they also provide information and resources to the parents/guardians to extend IPM information for their homes as well,” wrote the person who nominated the project.
Moncloa to guide Maine 4-H through intercultural competence program
Fe Moncloa, UCCE 4-H youth development advisor in Santa Clara County, has been named the 2021 Visiting Libra Diversity Professor at the University of Maine from January through June.
Through a virtual appointment, Moncloa will guide University of Maine Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development staff through the development and implementation of an intercultural competence professional development program. This project is part of a larger effort to increase the ability of University of Maine Cooperative Extension to foster inclusivity, diversity and access, particularly the statewide UMaine 4-H program. This project will serve as a template to expand diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts to other UMaine departments.
“In addition, my UMaine partners will lead four weekly Learning Circles to unpack intercultural communication,” Moncloa said. “I will teach an intercultural conflict styles workshop for all 4-H professionals in partnership with UMaine and will present a seminar to graduate students.”
Moncloa is on sabbatical through Sept. 30, 2021.
- Author: Jeannette Warnert
The $1 million UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for California Grown Rice has been awarded to Whitney Brim-DeForest, UCCE rice advisor for Sutter, Yuba, Placer, Sacramento and Butte counties.
Brim-DeForest said she will use the funds generated from the endowed chair to hire a full-time technician to monitor a research study at UC Davis on weedy rice. Weedy rice is the same species as cultivated rice and it produces rice, however the grain falls off the plant before harvest.
She is part of a team of UC scientists that includes UCCE advisors Luis Espino and Michelle Lindfelder-Miles, and UCCE specialists Bruce Linquist and Kassim Al-Khatib who are conducting the five-year demonstration project to help farmers manage the problem.
“We don't know where weedy rice came from,” Brim-DeForest said. “It's a weed in every major rice growing area around the world. We were among the last areas to see it.”
In the UC Davis experiment, the scientists plan to demonstrate two potential weedy rice management strategies: rotate the rice crop with sorghum and create a “stale seed bed,” in which the field is irrigated and plants allowed to germinate, and then killed with an herbicide before the desired rice is planted.
“We want to demonstrate this in the field,” Brim-DeForest said. “In theory, it works. We want to show growers how long it will take to get weedy rice out of their fields.”
Half the funds for the endowed chair was provided by UC President Janet Napolitano; the other half was donated by the California Rice Research Board.
“The establishment of this endowed chair strengthens the long-standing public-private research partnership UC Cooperative Extension has had with the California rice industry,” said UC Agriculture and Natural Resources associate vice president Tu Tran, when the endowment was announced in 2016. “Continued research advancements will help the rice industry maintain its reputation for supplying a premium product for domestic and world markets.”
The chair appointment will be for a five-year term, and then reviewed and renewed or offered to another specialist or advisor working on California rice.
Brim-DeForest joined UCCE in 2016 after serving as a graduate student researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, working at the California Rice Experiment Station in Biggs. She managed the UC Davis Weed Science field and greenhouse trials, and worked with industry and academic scientists to design field and greenhouse trials for weed management in rice.
Macaulay named rangeland specialist
Macaulay was involved in the formation of the Graduate Training in Cooperative Extension Pilot Program in 2013, and went on to become one of its inaugural participants in 2014-15. The three-year pilot program partners UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources students with UCCE specialists and advisors as mentors to carry out extension-based projects. For his project, Macaulay gathered information from private landowners and managers to determine how recreational hunting for big game and upland game may influence decisions regarding land-use and conservation practices.
As a UCCE specialist in rangeland planning and policy, his research focuses on land use change, the interaction of wildlife, livestock and people across the landscape, and policy that impacts conservation and use of rangelands.
Prior to joining UCCE, Macaulay was a postdoctoral researcher evaluating land use and ownership of California cropland. Before his graduate studies, Macaulay worked for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Antitrust Division and later as the spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco.
Macaulay earned his Ph.D. in environmental science, policy and management and M.S. in range management from UC Berkeley. He completed a B.A. in liberal studies (a Great Books program) and Spanish from University of Notre Dame.
Macaulay is based at UC Berkeley and can be reached at email@example.com and @LukeRangeWalker on Twitter.
DiCaprio named food safety specialist
DiCaprio earned a Ph.D. in comparative veterinary medicine and a M.S. in food science and technology from The Ohio State University and a B.S. in biology from Virginia Tech.
Prior to joining UCCE, DiCaprio was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Veterinary Biosciences at Ohio State. Her research project was focused on studying the interaction of foodborne viruses with fresh produce and developing methods to eliminate viruses in foods. She has worked in microbiology laboratories in both industry and academia and she has experience working with a wide array of microorganisms including mycorrhizal fungi, bacteria and viruses.
She is based at UC Davis and can be reached at (530) 752-6594 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brim-DeForest named rice advisor
Prior to joining UCCE, Brim-DeForest was a graduate student researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, working at the California Rice Experiment Station in Biggs. She managed the UC Davis Weed Science field and greenhouse trials, and worked with industry and academic scientists to design field and greenhouse trials for weed management in rice.
Her past research has focused on the germination, emergence, and ecology of key weeds in the rice system and their impact on yields, and managing weeds of rice with subsistence farmers in the Kolda Region of Senegal.
Before starting graduate school, Brim-DeForest served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Kolda and Dakar, Senegal. During her service, she worked with local farmers on best management practices in rice, cowpeas, millet, sorghum and corn, as well as horticultural crops. She is fluent in Pulaar (Fulani) and French.
She completed a Ph.D. in horticulture and agronomy and an M.S. in international agricultural development at UC Davis and a B.A. in biology from Brown University.
Brim-DeForest is based in Yuba City and can be reached at (530) 822-7515 and email@example.com.
Diaz named 4-H STEM coordinator
As STEM academic coordinator, Diaz leads California's STEM Initiative to develop, strengthen and evaluate programmatic opportunities for California's young people in the areas of science, engineering and technology education. She will adapt and design culturally responsive best and innovative practices, programs, activities, and curriculum to reach underrepresented youth, particularly Latino youth.
Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Diaz earned her B.S. in biotechnology with a minor in chemistry from Cal State University, Northridge. While pursuing a Ph.D. in plant biology at UC Riverside, she co-created the Botany and Plant Sciences Department's Plant Discovery Day, where fifth- and sixth-graders were invited to learn about various aspects of plant biology.
Diaz is based in the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530)750-1341 and
Fontecha joins CSIT as artist
Prior to joining ANR, she was the senior designer at the California Lighting Technology Center, a lighting efficiency research center at UC Davis, for eight years. Her career has focused on visual communications, branding and content development. She enjoys using her design skills to communicate technical information. She has a penchant for data collection, discovering patterns in information and interest in presenting analysis visually and succinctly.
Fontecha earned bachelor's degrees in design and English from UC Davis and is currently enrolled in Northwestern University's master's degree program for information design and strategy through distance learning.
Fontecha is based in the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1216 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several ANR academics shared in the national 2015 Experiment Station Section Excellence in Multistate Research Award for a project to improve the sustainability of tree fruits. The NC-140 Research Project, “Improving Sustainability in Fruit Tree Production through Changes in Rootstock,” conducted innovative research on fruit tree rootstock genetics, production, management and economics.
UCCE specialists Scott Johnson and Ted DeJong, and Rachel Elkins, UCCE advisor in Lake and Mendocino counties, represented California at annual meetings held around the country, Canada and Mexico. Kevin Day, Johnson and DeJong led statewide trials in peaches, Johnson led apple trials, and Elkins led pear trials. UCCE advisors Joe Grant and Chuck Ingels also participated as trial cooperators in cherry and pear, respectively. DeJong and Elkins co-hosted and chaired the 2015 NC-140 Regional Rootstock Project Annual Meeting, attended by about 40 national collaborators.
The NC-140 Research Project has been in existence since the 1970s, and the award recognizes the project's large body of work contributed by many researchers.
NC-140 recommendations have resulted in earlier returns, greater yields, and higher fruit quality, with a financial benefit to U.S. fruit tree producers of at least $250 million. Less easily measured benefits, such as averted losses and enhanced environmental quality, likely increase the financial value of NC-140 to well beyond $500 million over the next five years.
For example, adoption of NC-140 recommended dwarfing rootstocks will result in a 50 percent reduction in canopy volume and reduce pesticide usage by half on 200,000 acres, providing net environmental benefits and savings of $150 million in pesticide application costs. With NC-140 recommended rootstocks, it is expected that yields will increase by 20 percent per acre, fruit size will increase by 10 percent and tree losses due to disease will decline by 10 percent.
The Experiment Station Section Excellence in Multistate Research Award, given annually, provides NC-140 an additional $15,000 in additional funding. A permanent plaque will be displayed at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in Washington, DC.
Elkins, Lucas and Pittenger win ASHS awards
ANR members won two awards from the American Society for Horticultural Science Extension Division for Outstanding Extension Education Materials.
Rachel Elkins, UCCE advisor, and Ray Lucas, ANR videographer, won the 2015 Outstanding Video Award for “Budding, Grafting and Planting Walnut Trees.”
“There have been over 100,000 views, the most of any UC ANR video, ever,” said Elkins.
The award is based on the book's completeness and accuracy of information, appropriateness for its intended audience, organization, attractiveness, originality/uniqueness and correctness of grammar.
“This award is very meaningful and speaks to the technical merit and usability of the book because the judges are Cooperative Extension colleagues of other universities across the U.S.,” said Pittenger, UCCE area environmental horticulture advisor for Los Angeles County based at UC Riverside. “It verifies the quality of content provided by the 24 authors and co-authors and the production quality provided by ANR Communication Services.”
This is the second time the California Master Gardener Handbook has received this award from ASHS, as the 1st edition also received the award in 2002. The handbook is the leading Master Gardener training support publication nationally.
Authors included Pamela M. Geisel; Ben Faber; James Walworth; Deborah D. Giraud; Deborah Silva; Janet Hartin; Demetrios G. Kontaxis; Richard H. Molinar; Julie P. Newman; Ralph Gay; M. Ali. Harivandi; Donald R. Hodel; Nancy Garrison; Paul M. Vossen; Delbert S. Farnham; Mark Bolda; Donald J. Merhaut; Carol Lovatt; Mikeal Roose; Georgios Vidalakis; Berthold O. Bergh; Akif Eskalen; John F. Karlik and Judith A. Alsop.
The ASHS awards were presented Aug. 4, 2015, at the ASHS annual conference in New Orleans.
[Editor's note: We're a bit tardy in reporting the 2015 ASHS awards.]