Speaker Biographies

2020 Climate Action & Agriculture Symposium Webinar: Soil Health
May 21, 2020, 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM

Hannah Gbeh-Bio photo

Hannah Gbeh
Executive Director, San Diego County Farm Bureau

Mrs. Gbeh serves as the Executive Director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau and Administrator of the San Diego Region Irrigated Lands Group. She is owner/operator of a 5 acre family farm in rural San Diego County, Bee Valley Farm. She was a voting member on the Board of Directors of the San Diego County Farm Bureau for two years, representing SDCFB in both Sacramento and Washington D.C., in addition to establishing and serving as Chair on the Farm Bureau's Membership Assistance Committee. In her spare time, she founded, incorporated and managed a local non-profit organization that provided food, clothing, shelter, healthcare and education to poor, distressed and disadvantaged individuals. Mrs. Gbeh also has 20 years of experience teaching and researching environmental science, 12 of which focused exclusively on the preparation of documents for compliance with federal, state and local environmental regulations. She is a graduate from the University of Michigan with a degree in Environmental Science, a minor in Global Climate Change and a focus on environmental justice. Mrs. Gbeh is a County of San Diego Qualified EIR Preparer, served as Vice-Chair of the Jamul-Dulzura Community Planning Group, Chairs the San Diego County Fish and Wildlife Advisory Commission and Chairs the Cuyamaca College Ornamental Horticulture Advisory Committee.

Contact: hannah@sdfarmbureau.org

Tapan Pathak-Bio photo

Tapan Pathak, PhD
UC ANR Specialist - Climate Adaptation in Agriculture
University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Dr. Tapan Pathak is a Cooperative Extension Specialist in climate adaptation in agriculture with University of California Merced and University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Dr. Pathak has years of experience in agricultural climatology, crop modeling, and adaptation research. He is involved in various state and multistate efforts and collaborates on state and federal projects to study trends and impacts of climate change on various aspects of agricultural production and translating climate and weather data into useful agricultural decision support information that can assist agricultural community in making strategic decisions.

Contact: tpathak@ucanr.edu

JMuramoto-Bio photo

Joji Muramoto, PhD
UC ANR Specialist - Organic Production
University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Dr. Muramoto is a soil scientist/agroecologist specializing in fertility and soilborne disease management in organic strawberries and vegetables. After working as a researcher at UC Santa Cruz for 23 years, in May 2019, he became the first Cooperative Extension Specialist solely dedicated to organic production in the UC system. He is also the first CE Specialist based at UC Santa Cruz. He is responsible for statewide research and extension in organic farming systems and is networking organic production researchers across the state.

Contact: jmuramoto@ucanr.edu

Ben Faber-Bio photo

Ben Faber, PhD
UCCE Farm Advisor-Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties
University of California Cooperative Extension

Ben Faber was hired in 1989 by Cooperative Extension in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. Since then he has worked on numerous research topics, ranging from avocado pollination, avocado disease and pest management, avocado irrigation, cherimoya pollination and pruning, nursery irrigation practices, the recycling of urban yard waste and the introduction of new crops, such as blueberry, litchi and longan. During this period, Ben has published over 35 peer-reviewed publications and nearly 200 popular articles. He has had the opportunity to speak at four international conferences on the biology of avocado and spent two years in New Zealand and Turkey researching methods to control avocado root rot. Check out our blog and newsletters:
Topics in Subtropics Blog: http:// http://ucanr.edu/blogs/Topics/
Topics in Subtropics Newsletter: http://ceventura.ucanr.edu/news/Topics_in_Subtropics/

Contact: bafaber@ucanr.edu

Oli Bachie-Bio photo

Oli Bachie, PhD
UCCE County Director-Imperial County and Farm Advisor-Imperial, Riverside and San Diego Counties
University of California Cooperative Extension

Oli Bachie is the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Agronomy Advisor for Imperial, Riverside and San Diego counties. He is also a CE county Director for Imperial. Bachie has led research and extension efforts in Imperial county since 2012. Earlier to this Bachie has worked as an adjunct professor at National University, Victor Valley and Imperial Valley colleges teaching computer networking, biology and environmental science classes, respectively. He develops and encourages adoption of research-based cropping systems to improve crop productivity and yield with due consideration for environmental and ecological compatibilities. Additionally, he served as a CDFA training technical assistant for the Health Soil Program (HSP) in 2018 and 2019. Bachie’s current research interests are on forage crop productivity, New and alternative crops such as quinoa, teff, Moringa, and Industrial Hemp. He is evaluating alternative pest management options to chlorpyrifos for sugarbeet. Bachie earned a PhD from the University of California Riverside.

Contact: obachie@ucanr.edu

Aaron Fox-Bio photo

Aaron F. Fox, PhD
Professor, Plant Science Department
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Dr. Fox has a background in organic farming, pest management, beneficial insects, cover crops, the sustainability of biofuels, and is now working on a California Department of Food and Agriculture "Healthy Soils" project, demonstrating how farms can sequester carbon and mitigate climate change. Much of Dr. Fox's research investigates ecosystem services, the valuable natural processes that benefit humankind, and how to enhance them through sustainable farming practices. At Cal Poly Pomona, Dr. Fox focuses on urban agriculture in the Los Angeles area and around the world. Along with Dr. Eileen Cullen, Dr. Fox created the Minor in Urban and Community Agriculture at Cal Poly Pomona, the first academic program of its kind that focuses on the production, business, policy, and community development aspects of urban food systems. Dr. Fox received his PhD in Crop Science and Entomology from North Carolina State University and his Bachelor’s of Science from Tulane University.

Contact: affox@cpp.edu

Jon Phillips-Bio photo

Jon Phillips, PhD
Chair, Agribusiness and Food Industry Management/Agricultural Science Department and
Professor of Agribusiness

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Dr. Phillips is Chair of the Agribusiness and Food Industry Management/Agricultural Science Department and Professor of Agribusiness. He began his faculty career at Cal Poly Pomona in 2002. He has earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State University. Dr. Phillips has taught most of the classes in the Agribusiness and Food Industry Management program and has advised a number of graduate students. He has published five peer reviewed journal articles. Dr. Phillips has made more than 50 selected paper or poster presentations at disciplinary conferences and has addressed dozens of international delegations.

Contact: jcphillips@cpp.edu

Esther Mosase-Bio photo

Esther Mosase , PhD
Climate Smart Agriculture Community Education Specialist
University of California Cooperative Extension

Dr. Esther Mosase joined ANR as the UC Cooperative Extension Community Education Specialist for Climate Smart Agriculture in February 2019. Esther’s work involves sensitizing agricultural operators on climate smart farming and help them apply for grants geared towards reducing climate change impacts. She organizes outreach activities such as workshops, on-farm visits and advise farmers on best climate smart management practices to implement on their farms She also occasionally help CDFA with the verification process for their awarded ongoing projects. Prior to joining UCCE, Esther was a research assistant at South Dakota State University and her research activities focused on surface and groundwater interactions, hydrologic modelling, water quality, climate variability and remote sensing engineering. Dr. Mosase earned her masters in Agricultural Engineering majoring in irrigation and drainage and Ph.D in Civil Engineering specializing in water resources Engineering.

Contact: enmosase@ucanr.edu

Michael Wonsidler-Bio photo

Michael Wonsidler
Program Manager, Solid Waste Planning & Recycling and Creative Services
Department of Public Works, County of San Diego

Michael Wonsidler is the Program Manager for the County of San Diego’s Solid Waste Planning & Recycling and Creative Services sections. To help expand the regional recycling processing infrastructure, he serves as the North San Diego Recycling Market Development Zone (RMDZ) program administrator, which has awarded over $5M in low-interest loans for facilities processing plastics, tires, asphalt shingles, and compostable materials.

Michael has served as a member of SANDAG’s Integrated Waste Management Local Task Force Technical Advisory Committee as well as the chair of its Organics Subcommittee, an advisor to the Citizen’s Advisory Committee, a member of the County of San Diego’s Live Well San Diego Food System Initiative, a Secretary of the San Diego Chapter of the California Resource Recovery Association, a chair of the San Diego Reuse and Repair Network and a member of the Zero Waste International Alliance.

Michael received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami, FL, completed graduate study in Community Economic Development at San Diego State University and received a Recycling and Resource Management Certification through the California Resource Recovery Association.

Contact: Michael.Wonsidler@sdcounty.ca.gov

T_Soylu-Bio photo

Tyla Montgomery Soylu,, PE
Project Engineer, Hidden Resources

Tyla provides technical and design support for organics management projects on the Hidden Resources consulting team. Tyla has been researching regulatory and land-use barriers to composting since 2010, when she realized how difficult it is to start even a small operation. Tyla combines personal passion with professional knowledge to steer programs and policies that prioritize the highest and best use of organic materials. She is committed to help open up pathways for regional organics recovery infrastructure, while also aiming to build community and agricultural empowerment through decentralized recovery programs. Tyla organized local grassroots involvement through CalRecycle’s Title 14 Rulemaking process which ultimately helped achieve new statewide permit exclusions for community composting. She is a registered Civil Engineer in CA and NV and earned her BS in Environmental Engineering from SDSU.

Contact: tyla@compostingconsultant.com

Lindsey Jasperse-Bio photo

Lindsey Jasperse
Science Program Manager, Climate Science Alliance-South Coast

Lindsey Jasperse is Science Program Manager at the Climate Science Alliance. Lindsey received her master’s degree in Climate Science and Policy from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), focusing her graduate career on the interface between climate science, agriculture, and natural resources. In her previous work at the Center of Western Weather and Water Extremes (CW3E) at SIO, she participated in seasonal monitoring of extreme precipitation events to advance understanding of their impacts for landscapes across the southwest. As Science Program Manager, Lindsey supports the Alliance's science-based programs and collaborative partnerships, including projects focused on agriculture and natural resources.

Contact: ljasperse@climatesciencealliance.org

Martina Skjellerudsveen-Bio photo

Martina Skjellerudsveen,
Agricultural Outreach Specialist, Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County

Martina Skjellerudsveen is the Agricultural Outreach Specialist at the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County. She has a Master’s degree from Denmark in Agro-Environmental Management. She wrote the second Carbon Farm Plan in the County, which is now being implemented with the support of the CDFA Healthy Soils Program. She is currently working with both farmers and ranchers to promote the use of farming practices that increase soil organic matter.

Contact: martina.skjellerudsveen@rcdsandiego.org

ellee Igoe-Bio photo

Ellee Igoe 
Co-Owner, Solidarity Farms

Ellee Igoe is the co-owner of Solidarity Farm in Pauma Valley, a 10-acre diversified fruit and vegetable operation and education center. In 2017, she co-launched the Carbon Sink Demonstration Farm in collaboration with the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians to explore the intersection of indigenous knowledge and regenerative agriculture and to develop local strategies that build resilience to climate change on farms and within our local food system.

Contact: solidarityfarmsd@gmail.com

Scott Sawyer-Bio photo

Scott Sawyer, PhD
Research Director, San Diego Food System Alliance

Scott Sawyer grew up in Southern California before being charmed away to Vermont, where he was the lead author, editor, and designer of Vermont's Farm to Plate Initiative while working at Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. His work has included researching, analyzing, writing, editing, evaluating, and designing for a variety of food system, renewable energy, forest products, and sustainability programs and projects, including Vermont's Farm to Plate Initiative, the Community Energy Dashboard, and the Vermont Bioenergy Initiative. Scott has a PhD in sociology from Washington State University, where his dissertation was titled "The Politics of Reliability: A Sociological Examination of the State of Vermont's Response to Peak Oil and Climate Change." Scott is happy to be back in sunny California and eager to help strengthen San Diego's food system.

Contact: scott@sdfsa.org