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Violini joins Government and Community Relations

Sheron Violini
Sheron Violini joined UC ANR on April 6 as associate director of Government and Community Relations. Violini will help UC ANR members develop and nurture relationships with local government officials. She will also support programs to promote community awareness of UC ANR.

Violini has 28 years of leadership experience in the California State Legislature. During her tenure, she served as the deputy secretary of operations for the Senate Rules Committee. She founded the Senate Training office, which is responsible for mandatory training, as well as courses to help legislative staff develop soft skills.

Early in her career, Violini served as chief of staff for Orange County legislator Dick Ackerman. This role taught her how to forge relationships on both sides of the aisle and in both houses. She brings extensive knowledge of how Capitol and district offices operate as well as the legislative and budget process. 

Violini earned an M.A. in cultural resources management from California State University, Sacramento and a B.A. in history from UC Davis. She is an International Coach Federation Professional Certified Coach, certified by Thrive Global and B.J. Fogg's Tiny Habits programs. She looks forward to using her motivational interviewing and appreciate inquiry skills to empower UC ANR staff as they connect with their local government officials and the public.

“I am so pleased to have Sheron join our team,” said Anne Megaro, government and community relations director. “Not only does she have fantastic expertise and knowledge in government relations, she is passionate about professional training and will be a great resource for UC ANR employees to build effective communication skills.”

Violini is a fourth-generation Californian, raised in Monterey County on a working cattle ranch. She was a member of the Buena Vista 4-H club where she completed both livestock and home economics projects. Violini is excited to give back to UC ANR and the programs that helped launch her career.

Violini is based at the UC ANR building in Davis in cubicle 160 and can be reached at (530) 341-4661 and

Quinn-Davidson to lead UC ANR Fire Network 

Lenya Quinn-Davidson

Lenya Quinn-Davidson has been named director of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources' Fire Network, effective April 1. UC ANR's statewide Fire Network will build connections and capacity among UC ANR scientists, practitioners, land management and regulatory agencies, policymakers and communities to work toward fire resilience in California. 

To meet the challenge of wildfire, UC ANR has hired several new UC Cooperative Extension fire advisors and staff to study issues related to wildfire and to assist Californians with their preparations. Quinn-Davidson and the Fire Network will provide critical coordination and connection across geographies and disciplines ranging from forestry to food safety to livestock to water.

Quinn-Davidson has served as a UC Cooperative Extension fire advisor for the North Coast since 2016. During her three-year term as the Fire Network director, she will continue her research program and continue to build capacity among landowners, tribes and other communities to use prescribed fire throughout the state. Quinn-Davidson also leads the international WTREX program, focused on empowering women and other underrepresented people who work in fire.

 “I'm honored to take on this new role, and I can't wait to further grow, connect and support our fire efforts within UC ANR,” Quinn-Davidson said.

She is based in Eureka at the UCCE Humboldt County office and can be reached at (707) 445-7351 and

Read the full announcement at

Singh named UCCE tech and innovations advisor for small farms 

Manpreet Singh

Manpreet Singh began working on Feb. 15 as a UC Cooperative Extension technology and innovation advisor for small farms and serves Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Madera and Merced counties.

Singh is responsible for testing and evaluating new technologies that can resolve challenges that small farms experience. With a variety of technological advancements becoming available, Singh will help small farms determine the feasibility and economic impact of their options. His role will not only prioritize crop production efficiency, but postharvest and marketing of crops as well.

A few areas of concern that are top of mind for Singh are weed control and water efficiency. “Weed control is a major part of agricultural operations and a logistical nightmare,” he said. “Since I did a lot of research in irrigation, I also want to help small farms adapt to smart irrigation controllers.” 

Singh earned a master's in horticulture, specializing in vegetable science, and a bachelor's in agriculture from Punjab Agricultural University in India. During his master's program, Singh focused his research on hybrid breeding of melons. 

After completing his master's, he moved to the United States to join the Ph.D. program at Texas Tech University where he worked as a teaching assistant for Principles of Horticulture labs. His Ph.D. research focused on limited irrigation strategies for vegetable production in West Texas.

“In the past, I did some extension work, but I never had a chance to work directly with the farmers. I'm ready to do some applied research that involves the farmers. So, this job provides me a great opportunity to do those things,” said Singh. 

Singh is based out of the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center and can be reached at

Ott to advise growers in Tehama, Butte, Shasta and Glenn counties 

Jaime Ott

Since the beginning of this year, Jaime Ott has been settling in at UC ANR as the new UC Cooperative Extension orchard systems advisor for Tehama, Butte, Shasta and Glenn counties. 

“Officially I am covering walnut, prune, almond and olive in these counties,” Ott said. “But since there is only one other advisor in my office, Josh Davy, the joke is that he covers anything with feathers, fins and fur – and I cover anything with chlorophyll.”

Ott said she hopes to help California agriculture become more robust, profitable and sustainable – economically, socially and environmentally – far into the future.

“I want to help serve as a bridge, communicating the needs of the growers in my area to the researchers on UC campuses to make sure that we are doing the right research, research that will help to move our production systems forward,” she explained.

After growing up in El Dorado County, Ott earned her undergraduate degree in biological sciences from UC Davis. She received her M.S in marine science from the College of William & Mary, and then joined the Peace Corps, through which she worked with farmers in Zambia to raise tilapia. 

Since returning from Africa in 2014, Ott has been working in the lab of Greg Browne at UC Davis and pursuing her Ph.D. in the Department of Plant Pathology. Her research has focused on which Phytophthora species are affecting almonds and walnuts in California and the ways the pathogen is introduced into orchards.

“My experience in Zambia really highlighted how powerful information can be, and I want to make sure that California growers have access to all of the practical information that UC and UC Cooperative Extension scientists are generating,” she said.

Ott, based at the UCCE office in Red Bluff, can be reached at and (530) 527-3101.

Justin Tanner joins UCCE as grape advisor 

Justin Tanner

Justin Tanner joined UC ANR on Jan. 3 as a UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor for San Joaquin, Stanislaus and southern Sacramento counties. 

Tanner is responsible for implementing an innovative extension education and applied research program to address high-priority production issues in wine and table grapes including pest, disease, and water management.

Specifically, he supports entry-level growers who are seeking basic viticulture and pest management practices, while providing experienced growers information on new technologies to remain competitive. All producers face mounting pressures from increased regulatory and environmental compliance requirements as well as cost-competitiveness in an increasingly global marketplace.

Tanner attended Colorado State University and earned a Ph.D. in horticulture, focusing on germplasm conservation of temperate fruit trees. He also attended Texas A&M University, where he earned a master's degree in horticulture for citrus virology, as well as a bachelor's degree in agriculture for environmental soil science.

As a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, Tanner designed and implemented research projects at Oakville Station in Napa County. During his time there, he investigated various factors that affect wine grape production such as examining the effects of cluster thinning and irrigation practices on grapevine red blotch virus-positive vines to evaluate the efficacy of cultural management practices on mitigating virus impact on grape quality and yield. He also conducted trials to identify rootstock and scion combinations as well as trellis systems to optimize production under warming climate conditions.

To understand the needs and challenges of the growers he supports, Tanner is working closely with growers, industry leaders, the Lodi Winegrape Commission and pest control advisers in the region.

“I see the spread of grapevine leafroll-associated virus by the vine mealybug as a huge challenge for grape growers within San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties,” said Tanner. “As vine mealybug reproduces prolifically and spreads easily, controlling this invasive pest will require an integrated pest management approach with a concerted and sustained effort at the community level.”

Tanner is excited to contribute to the success of grape growers and the wine industry using a science-based approach. “The growers and pest control advisers I have already had the opportunity to meet with have been kind, intelligent and hardworking people who I enjoy working with,” he said. 

Tanner is based at the UCCE San Joaquin County office in Stockton and can be reached at

Lazicki brings vegetable expertise to Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties 

Patricia Lazicki

Patricia Lazicki started on Feb. 1 as the vegetable crops advisor for University of California Cooperative Extension in the Capitol Corridor, comprising Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties. She aims to develop an extension and applied research program that supports growers through industry, regulatory, and environmental changes, while increasing the profitability and resilience of the vegetable industry.

“I'm excited for the chance that this position gives to do holistic, applied, scientifically rigorous research that encompasses crop health, pest management, soil health, water dynamics and economic sustainability,” Lazicki said. “In particular, this region has long been a hub of California's processing tomato production and I'm excited for the opportunity to learn from and support local growers, pest control advisers and allied industry within this important crop.”

Lazicki said she's also looking forward to working with UCCE's team of vegetable crop advisors across California to develop integrated pest management approaches for emerging pests and pathogens. 

After growing up in southern Chad and northern Cameroon, Lazicki has spent much of her adult life doing research in annual cropping systems in West and Central Africa and across the U.S.

She earned her bachelor's degree in international agricultural development with a minor in soil science from UC Davis, her master's in soil science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Ph.D. in soils and biogeochemistry from UC Davis.

“I know I'm biased, but I believe that in the long-term healthy soils underlie healthy crops, environments and communities,” Lazicki said. “I hope to work with growers in my counties to figure out ways to adapt soil health-promoting practices to local needs without sacrificing short-term economic sustainability.”

Based at Woodland, Lazicki can be reached at and (530) 219-5198.

Martinez Resendiz joins NPI as project policy analyst 

Erica Martinez Resendiz

Erica Martinez Resendiz joined the Nutrition Policy Institute on April 3 as a project policy analyst. 

Martinez Resendiz, who began her work at NPI as a graduate student, received her master's and bachelor's degrees in public health with a concentration in public health nutrition from the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. She is passionate about working alongside individuals and communities, food security, health education and early childhood nutrition. 

Her previous work experience includes helping individuals navigate basic needs community resources, breastfeeding promotion, and nutrition education for participants of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

As a graduate student at NPI, she gained experience conducting telephone and in-person surveys, developing interviews and surveys, collecting plate waste data, administering 24-hour dietary recalls for children, and creating nutrition workshop materials. Martinez Resendiz brings these skills to continue collaborating on NPI projects evaluating the transition to freshly prepared school meals, school meals for all and farm to corrections programs. 

Martinez Resendiz is based at UC Office of the President in Oakland and can be reached at

Orta-Aleman joins NPI as project scientist 

Dania Orta-Aleman

Dania Orta-Aleman joined the Nutrition Policy Institute on March 1 as a project scientist. She will be supporting NPI's collaborative School Meals for All evaluation project.

Orta-Aleman is a nutrition epidemiologist with a doctorate in human nutrition from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a master of public health degree in epidemiology and biostatistics from UC Berkeley. 

Orta-Aleman has over 10 years of experience working on public health nutrition and food insecurity research projects, domestically and internationally. Her past research focused on enhancing services for participants in the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the affordability of high-protein foods, and the effect of federal food programs on meat and other high-protein foods purchasing.

Orta-Aleman is based at UC Office of the President in Oakland and can be reached at

Noble joins Contracts & Grants 

Emilee Noble

Emilee Noble has joined Contracts & Grants as a research administrator 3. She will be assisting principal investigators and UCCE advisors with grant proposal preparation. She will provide resources and expertise to better understand contract and grant administration and successfully administer sponsored awards.

Prior to joining UC ANR, Noble worked at UC Davis in the Sponsored Programs Office. 

The Woodland native enjoys drawing, reading, taking up the art of bonsai and physical activities from working out to riding dirt bikes.

Noble is located in cubical 234A in the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at and (530) 236-7364.

Humiston wins WAAESD leadership award 

Glenda Humiston

Vice President Glenda Humiston will be honored with the 2023 Experiment Station Section Excellence in Leadership Award for the Western Region. The award is presented to leaders who personify the highest level of excellence by enhancing the cause and performance of the regional associations and ESS in achieving their missions and the Land-Grant ideal. 

“Glenda served as WAAESD chair during a time when the regional office was experiencing some internal issues. Glenda's leadership was essential to managing through those tough times,” said Bret Hess, executive director of the Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors.

“On the national level, Glenda served as the Chair of the Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy's (ESCOP) Budget and Legislative Committee (BLC),” he said.

As chair of this committee, Humiston served as the ESCOP representative to the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities Board on Agriculture Assembly's Budget and Advocacy Committee and Committee on Legislation and Policy.

“She also served on an ad hoc infrastructure committee that was formed by the APLU BAA to address the rapidly declining facilities operated by colleges of agriculture,” Hess said. “Glenda's leadership was instrumental in all of these committees. She is well-known for her no-nonsense approach, coupled with her vast experience in the political arena, she helped move the needle. 

“For example, she helped the system develop a longer-term strategy for justifying annual federal appropriations requests in support of capacity research funds that are allocated to State Agricultural Experiment Stations. She also played a pivotal role in creating awareness among congressional leaders that the nation must address the infrastructure challenges colleges of agriculture are facing.”

Humiston will be presented the award at the Fall ESS Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Sept. 24-27.

Becker named Society of Nematologists Fellow 

Ole Becker

J. Ole Becker, UC Riverside professor of Cooperative Extension and Agricultural Experiment Station, has been named a Society of Nematologists Fellow.  

Nematodes are tiny, thread-like roundworms that feed on fungi, bacteria, other nematodes, and plants. While feeding, nematodes can induce plant deformation, which interfere with water and nutrient uptake, severely impacting plants' ability to grow. They also create wounds that can leave roots vulnerable to infection by other disease-causing organisms in the soil.  

Most vegetable crops, as well as trees and vines, are susceptible to nematode infection. Becker, a 30-year member of UC Riverside's Department of Nematology, works on ways to stop the worms while having minimal impact on the surrounding environment.  

“He has truly been at the forefront of developing innovative, integrated methods for treating these pests,” said Andreas Westphal, UCR professor of Cooperative Extension in nematology based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, who works with Becker. “Some techniques he pioneered have changed entire industries.”

For example, Becker developed seed coatings that protect against nematodes, since plants are most susceptible to them right when they germinate. Seed treatments dramatically reduce the amount of chemicals required for crop protection and are safer for the individuals applying the chemicals. 

Becker is also internationally recognized for developing innovative biological methods of nematode treatment, which involve the addition of organic materials to the soil that stimulate the worms' natural enemies, or changing the soil in other ways that suppress worm populations. Methods like these not only help control plant-parasitic nematodes, but also hugely reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture. 

“He truly has set an example working with both chemical and biological means, which are equally important,” Westphal said. “Many scientists really focus, and only go one route. Becker exemplifies how to cover both to achieve maximum effectiveness.” 

See full story by Jules Bernstein at


Posted on Sunday, April 30, 2023 at 10:39 PM

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