- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Daniel Obrist joined UC ANR on Aug. 15 as the vice provost for academic personnel and development. Obrist will initially hold a 50% appointment through the end of 2022 before assuming the role full-time on Jan. 1, 2023.
Currently, Obrist is a professor and the chairperson of the Department of Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. His academic and educational background includes ecology and ecosystem science, hydrogeology, atmospheric and environmental sciences, and soil science.
He has published over 85 peer-reviewed publications including in high-impact scientific journals such as Nature, Nature Geoscience, Nature Reviews, and PNAS, and has a strong record of extramural research funding. Obrist has given more than 230 conference and seminar presentations.
“I am excited to contribute to the important mission of UC ANR to bring research and knowledge generated by the UC system to the people of California,” he said. “In my role, I will strive to support academic personnel at UC ANR and help recruit additional outstanding scientists to further ANR's mission. As I said during my interviews, a guiding principle of mine is to further sustainability and protect natural resources, and I am committed to supporting Californians in adapting to a fast-changing environment.”
Obrist will be based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 464-8301 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tori Norville started on Aug. 1 as the new UC Cooperative Extension fire advisor for Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties.
In this capacity, Norville will work with residents and organizations within the wildland-urban interface to encourage and cultivate fire-adapted communities. She aims to provide education and outreach on home hardening, defensible space and the importance of forest and fuel management on the landscape.
While pursuing her bachelor's degree in forestry and natural resources at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Norville became interested in “disturbance ecology” – how factors such as disease, insects and fire affect landscapes and environments.
“Many of the forest health problems we are seeing are stemming from a lack of disturbance, which traditionally was fire,” Norville said.
Her understanding of fire and its effects deepened during her master's degree studies in forestry science (also at Cal Poly SLO), as well as through her seven years with CAL FIRE at the Jackson Demonstration State Forest in Mendocino County. She worked as the Registered Professional Forester for its Timber Sales Program, and then the Research and Demonstration Program.
Norville's firsthand experiences from the past few fire seasons have helped shape her goals and approach. She hopes to “work holistically with disturbances” – specifically fire – on the landscape to foster healthy forests and ecosystems that are adaptable and resilient, while also researching the environmental and social aspects of fuel-reduction projects and prescribed fire.
“Hopefully, I can begin to change the perception of fire from something we need to fear, to something we respect,” she said.
Norville, based at the UCCE office in Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, can be reached at email@example.com.
Jackie Atim began working as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist affiliated with UC Merced on July 11, based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.
Atim's work will include applied research focused on abiotic stress, which includes plant stress caused by extreme temperatures, high salinity, floods, drought or nutrient deficiency. In particular, she will be studying the genetic makeup of sorghum, its resistance to drought and the value it contributes to byproducts such as bioenergy.
California, as Atim explained, is an ideal place to study drought resilience given its semi-arid climate and water challenges. She is hopeful that California will establish sorghum as a climate-smart crop for forage and grain to address the challenges facing water-stressed production systems.
Furthermore, Atim will focus on “transforming science that can be consumed by ordinary farmers and growers alike.”
While Atim understands the importance of research-based decision-making, she also recognizes the challenges that non-academic audiences experience when applying such information. As a start, Atim anticipates collaborating with communications experts to simplify research findings and create visually appealing resources.
Before joining UC ANR, Atim worked as a plant pathologist for the National Agricultural Research Organization based at Mukono Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute in Uganda. In addition to pathology, Atim has expertise in plant breeding and entomology.
Atim earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture and education from Kyambogo University in Uganda. She has a master's degree in plant biotechnology from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and a doctorate in agriculture, plant breeding and entomology from the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom.
Atim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @JackieAtim2.
Sudan Gyawaly joined UC Cooperative Extension on July 5 as an area integrated pest management advisor serving Butte, Sutter, Yuba, Glenn, Colusa and Tehama counties.
Prior to becoming an IPM advisor, Gyawaly was an associate specialist at UCCE in Stanislaus County, where he studied tree nut pests, including walnut husk fly, navel orangeworm, and Pacific flatheaded borer. Before that, he was a post-doctoral researcher at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, studying pest management on vegetables and fruit trees on small farms.
In his new role, Gyawaly is learning about the crops and pest situation in the region by talking with growers and other stakeholders. He plans to develop a need-based applied IPM research and extension program for orchards, tree nuts and other crops grown in the region.
He earned an M.S. in entomology from West Virginia University and a Ph.D. in entomology from Virginia Tech.
He earned his undergraduate degree in agriculture in his native Nepal, then worked in rural areas of Nepal for a couple of years, providing sustainable vegetable production and pest management trainings to growers before moving to the United States in 2009 for graduate studies.
Gyawaly is based in Oroville and can be reached at (530) 538-7201 and email@example.com. Connect with him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sudan-gyawaly-987320221.
Irene Padasas started as UC Cooperative Extension community nutrition and health advisor for Tulare, Kings, Madera and Fresno counties on June 13.
Padasas will design her education and research programs for communities based on their priority needs within the broad areas of healthy lifestyles, health equity, food, nutrition, water security and safety, and climate change and health.
As part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' work to promote healthy families and communities, Padasas also will support the efforts of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in California and the Cal Fresh Healthy Living, University of California Nutrition Education Program.
After earning a bachelor's in special education at the University of the Philippines Diliman, and a master's in developmental psychology from the Ateneo de Manila University, Padasas received her Ph.D. in human sciences – with a specialization in global family health and well-being – from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.
In Nebraska, Padasas played a significant role in extension programs that promote positive and healthy child and adolescent development, such as co-developing curriculum for UpStarts, a program that provides youth entrepreneurship and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) education for high school students in rural areas.
She also led the analyses of qualitative data from the Ecological Approach to Family Style Dining, a research intervention program that aims to support young children's health and nutrition in early childcare centers subsidized by USDA's Child and Adult Care Food Program.
Padasas' current research centers on social and cultural factors that shape the quality of life and well-being of families.
“To serve our communities more effectively as an advisor, I'm focused on exploring the role of culture in health communication to better understand adoption and acceptance of health and nutrition education programs in the community,” Padasas said.
Padasas is based at the UCCE office in Tulare and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (559) 684-3300.
Susan Ellsworth joined UC Cooperative Extension in January as director for the Capitol Corridor, which serves Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties.
Her priority as county director is supporting Capitol Corridor staff and helping programs to thrive, while continuing to deepen her knowledge about food systems and community vitality. Ellsworth runs a small olive oil operation in conjunction with her family and said she is thrilled to be back in the Sacramento Valley after 10 years in the Bay Area.
Prior to joining UCCE, Ellsworth worked for the Alameda County Resource Conservation District as a food systems specialist with a focus on supporting new entries to farming and ranching. She has a background in urban agriculture – including serving as co-founder of Common Good City Farm in Washington D.C. – as well as in facilitation and conflict resolution related to natural resource management.
Ellsworth earned a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Colby College and a master's degree in community development from UC Davis.
Ellsworth is based in Woodland and can be reached at (530) 574-9947 or email@example.com.
Moore, Conrad, Yu, Dampier join IT staff
Information Technology recently hired four more IT experts to assist UC ANR employees.
Heather Moore has joined the IT Help Desk team as a computer resources specialist. She serves as the primary point of contact for ANR staff and affiliates with computer hardware, software, mobile and other technology needs and problems affecting individuals and departmental technology and network connections.
She also provides phone and in-person diagnosis, prioritization and support for all walk-in, telephone, email and web-based requests for assistance, logging service tickets in a tracking system.
Before joining UC ANR, she graduated from Sierra College in the spring of 2022, with an AA degree in business information. Previously she was a para educator at Sierra Elementary School in Rocklin.
Chun Yu has joined the IT Team as an IT service desk analyst. As part of the highly service-oriented ANR IT Service Desk team, he serves as a primary point of contact for ANR staff and affiliates for assistance with computer hardware, software, mobile and other technology needs.
He earned a bachelor's degree in computer science at Sacramento State University.
Natalie Conrad has joined the IT team as an information systems analyst. She brings 13 years of experience in the printing software and hardware industry.
"I am excited to expand the Help Desk team and am looking forward to assisting all departments throughout the organization," Conrad said.
Moore, Conrad and Yu are based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at Help@ucanr.edu.
Stephen Dampier is the new IT trainer. He will be helping UC ANR employees with accessibility of websites, how to use Zoom, how to use Site Builder, and how to use the Integrated Web Platform (IWP).
He has been a user interface (UI) developer and engineer for about 20 years, working for startups.
“If you've used OpenTable to make a restaurant reservation or have used Tallie Expense Software or bought something from PotteryBarnKids.com, then you may have used my UI,” Dampier said. “I am passionate about good user experience, accessibility and love the challenges of search engine optimization.”
Prior to his UI career, Dampier was a photographer and a fine arts photography teacher at the University of Central Florida and the San Francisco Art Institute. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts and was an exhibiting artist for years.
Dampier added, “I was also a drummer for a long time in various punk and rock and roll bands. I've built my own offshore fishing boat, which I use to fish the San Francisco Bay, Tomales Bay and the big blue Pacific Ocean. You'll see me come and go on my Aprilia Falco motorcycle or my beast of a diesel truck on rare occasions.”
Dampier is based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Harper named Agriculturalist of the Year
John Harper, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor for Mendocino and Lake counties was named Agriculturalist of the Year by the Board of Directors for the Redwood Empire Fair.
“John's service to our ranchers, wool-growers and ecologists cannot be overstated,” said Jennifer Seward, Redwood Empire Fair CEO. “He has provided more than a lifetime of service to our communities.”
For the past 31 years, Harper has served Mendocino and Lake counties as the UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor, and as UCCE director in both counties for about 15 years.
Harper's achievements include ranch water-quality management planning, sheep shearing and wool classing schools, development of the first UCCE livestock and natural resources web pages, rangeland grass and plants identification workshops, meat harvest and processing feasibility studies, a beef quality assurance program, utilizing sheep grazing for canopy floor management of vineyards, and ranch road workshops.
Harper also produced videos on range monitoring for residual dry matter and stream restoration methods and co-developed an online rangeland ecology and management course.
The award was presented to Harper at a special pre-fair kickoff Director's Dinner on Aug. 6.
Several scientists from UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics have been recognized by the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association for co-authoring a paper recently published in the Journal of Economic Entomology.
The paper, “Balancing Bees and Pest Management: Projected Costs of Proposed Bee-Protective Neonicotinoid Regulation in California,” received the award for “Outstanding Published Paper Which Significantly Contributed to Transdisciplinary Work of Specialty Crops Industries.”
Co-authors Rachael Goodhue, Agricultural Experiment Station professor at UC Davis, UCCE specialists Ian Grettenberger and Houston Wilson, and emeritus UCCE specialists Beth Grafton-Cardwell, Robert Van Steenwyk, and Frank Zalom shared in the award.
Their co-authors include Kevi Mace, Jessica Rudder, Hanlin Wei and John Steggall of UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Tor Tolhurst of Purdue University, and Daniel Tregeagle of North Carolina State University.
There has been a recent effort from state and national governments to regulate neonicotinoids – a critical crop protection tool for many pests. Without mitigation measures, they can be harmful to managed pollinators, including bees.
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation began crafting regulation in 2018 to mitigate neonicotinoid dangers to managed pollinators. As a result, three papers were written estimating potential economic impacts on California farmers for mitigating neonicotinoid risk. Those findings were then incorporated as CDPR began finalizing the regulation. The second of the three papers on neonicotinoids received the award.