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Outstanding academics recognized with Distinguished Service Awards

Outstanding academics recognized with Distinguished Service Awards

Winners of the Distinguished Service Awards were announced June 13. Sponsored by UC ANR and Academic Assembly Council, the Distinguished Service Awards recognize service and academic excellence in UC Cooperative Extension over a significant period of time. The awards highlight the use of innovative methods and the integration of research, extension and leadership by UC ANR academics. 

Award categories include outstanding research, outstanding extension, outstanding new academic, outstanding team, outstanding leader and contribution to diversity, equity and inclusion.

We are pleased to congratulate and recognize this year's honorees:

Outstanding Research - Mark Hoddle 

Mark Hoddle

Mark Hoddle has been a UCCE specialist in biological control in UC Riverside Department of Entomology for 25 years. His research program on biocontrol of invasive pests that attack agricultural crops, threaten wilderness areas, and degrade urban landscapes in California has been supported by more than $14.5 million in grants from commodity boards and state and federal agencies and have significant impacts in California, nationally and internationally.

Highlights of his work include the successful biological control of the glassy-winged sharpshooter, a species of palm weevil (Rhynchophorus vulneratus), the Asian citrus psyllid and the Argentine ant, resulting in a massive reduction and elimination of these pests in California and other states and countries.

Hoddle also has developed proactive biocontrol and integrated pest management programs for pests not yet present in California but that are likely to invade, including the spotted lantern fly, the avocado seed moth and the avocado seed weevil.

His outstanding research has led to over 200 publications in peer-reviewed journals, books and book chapters. He also has published over 100 extension articles and 40 web pages. His outreach includes interviews for TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and podcasts.

In addition to his academic successes, Hoddle has mentored seven graduate students, more than 40 undergraduate students and nine post-graduate researchers. He also has received several national and international awards throughout his career.

Outstanding Extension - Lyn Brock 

Lyn Brock

Lyn Brock is the academic coordinator for statewide training for both the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and CalFresh Healthy Living, University of California. Brock leads the training and professional development efforts for academics and staff that work at the state and county levels for both programs.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the EFNEP and CFHL, UC programs were stymied by the inability to provide in-person education. Through her persistence, innovation and leadership, Brock transitioned more than 140 program staff to virtual delivery in a matter of months so that they could continue to serve the people of California. 

She spearheaded novel trainings pertaining to a wide variety of topics that suddenly became relevant, including learner-centered programming, online learning platforms and copyright policies, among others. Under her leadership, 24 evidence-based curricula were adapted for virtual delivery during the pandemic. These programs are still regarded by the programs' federally funded partners as cutting-edge in virtual education.

Brock has produced numerous limited distribution publications and also presented during conferences, trainings and presentations to extend knowledge in her role as training coordinator. Highlights of her extension work include the What's Up Wednesday meetings, virtual staff check-in meetings to facilitate communication between program leadership staff. She also developed training material and trained staff on available virtual platforms to allow them to deliver programs virtually.

Outstanding New Academic - Aparna Gazula 

Aparna Gazula

Aparna Gazula became a UCCE small farms advisor in 2016. Her extension program provides training and technical assistance for nutrient management, pest management, irrigation and food safety to diversified vegetable farmers in Santa Clara, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties.

Because a majority of the crops grown by Asian immigrant farmers – including amaranth, bok choy, gai choy, gai lan, a choy, Chinese celery, edible chrysanthemum, yam leaves, garlic chives and pea tips – are considered minor crops, there is little research-based information about them that can be used as the basis for management decisions or to fulfill regulatory requirements.In six years, she has secured more than $1.6 million in grant funding for research, outreach and technical assistance to fill information gaps on pest management, food safety and water and nutrient management.

Many of the socially disadvantaged farmers Gazula works with face language and cultural barriers. To provide targeted extension to non-English speaking farmers, she secured grant funding to hire specialists and educators who are fluent in Cantonese and Spanish. With her team, Gazula provides technical assistance, workshops, and outreach publications in Chinese and Spanish.

She also has led her team in assisting farmers in the region to access pandemic relief funding and state programs to improve soil health and water use efficiency. Gazula and her team helped non-English-speaking farmers submit over 200 applications for relief between April and December 2020. These farmers received $3.1 million in emergency aid, allowing them to maintain vegetable production during the pandemic. With her team she also provided training and technical assistance, in both Cantonese and English, to farmers about the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program and Healthy Soils Program.

Although Gazula is a new academic, she is recognized throughout the region for her expertise and is often called on by community and local government groups to contribute to food and farming initiatives. She has established herself as a leader in supporting the Asian vegetable industry.

Outstanding Team - UC ANR Winter Cover Cropping/Water Use Team

The UC ANR Winter Cover Cropping/Water Use Team is composed of UCCE specialists Daniele Zaccaria, Samuel Sandoval Solis, Amelie Gaudin, Jeff Mitchell and Khaled Bali, UCCE advisor Dan Munk and UC Davis students Alyssa DeVincentis and Anna Gomes.

In direct response to prominent knowledge gaps around implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the team conducted a focused applied research program on water-related impacts of winter cover crops in California's Central Valley from 2016 to 2019.

Their research showed that the benefits of winter cropping in processing tomato and almond production systems offset or compensated for water used during the winter by the cover crops. Contrary to widespread belief, research results showed that cover crops did not use a lot of soil water because evapotranspiration during this period is normally low, crops shade and cool the soil surface, and improve soil aggregation, pore space and soil water infiltration and retention. 

This research provided the basis for a series of 11 invited extension education presentations and outreach activities to inform and guide policy implementation of local stakeholder agencies and entities including the Madera Regional Water Management Group, the American Farmland Trust's SJV Conservation Partnership Program, the CA/NV Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society, and the East Stanislaus, the Eastern Merced, Fresno, Kings, and Tulare Counties Resource Conservation Districts, as well as the California Irrigation Institute. 

Outstanding Leader - Gail Feenstra 

Gail Feenstra

Gail Feenstra, director of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, is a distinguished leader and visionary, not only in UC ANR, but across the food systems landscape. Her career has been exemplary in terms of her pioneering success in applied, multidisciplinary research, evaluation, and outreach. In the early 1990s, Feenstra began to parlay her graduate training in nutrition along with her experience in community development and food systems into what was then a very new, poorly studied discipline that she would continue to develop and lead for the next three decades.

This field of work comprises regional food systems that merge the business and livelihood needs of small- and mid-scale farmers with the economic well-being and nutritional health of their local communities. Feenstra developed SAREP's and the nation's understanding of values-based supply chains. She has been a pioneer in the farm-to-school movement and has developed widely adopted tools for farm-to-school evaluation. In recognition of her stature in this field, CDFA selected her to lead a four-year, $60 million evaluation of its Farm to School Grant Program.

Feenstra also has shown tremendous leadership within UC ANR through her role as co-chair of the California Communities and Food Systems Program Team where she has helped shape collaborations within UC ANR. She has worked to bridge interconnected disciplines of nutrition, food, health, community development and agriculture within UC ANR. She also has led efforts to work across program teams, particularly in developing new specialist and advisor position descriptions. Her energy is infectious and her leadership through collaboration is compelling. The Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society recently honored Feenstra with its 2022 Richard P. Haynes Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award.

Outstanding Contribution to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - Katherine Soule 

Katherine Soule

Katherine Soule began her DEI work in 2013, focusing on providing solutions to the challenges that marginalized youth, families and communities face on the Central Coast.

Her work particularly focused on the needs of Latino youth and families, LGBTQ+ youth and adults, neurodivergent people, and individuals living in poverty. Through a timely intervention, Soule's DEI work has helped to increase health equity, improve food security and safety, and promote economic prosperity in marginalized communities.

She implemented a very impactful “Schools as Hubs of Health” program that reached more than 4,000 students annually in more than 150 classrooms and created a college and career readiness pathway that engaged more than 12,000 youth. She brings an interdisciplinary approach to her work with an emphasis on engaged and participatory research, and lifelong commitment to personally unlearning and decolonizing.

Soule also demonstrates DEI leadership by serving on the UC ANR DEI Advisory Council as the inaugural chair and serving on the City of San Luis Obispo's DEI Taskforce.

Posted on Monday, June 27, 2022 at 1:10 PM

Names in the News

Kaan Kurtural
Kurtural named UCCE viticulture specialist

S. Kaan Kurtural joined UC ANR as a Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis on Nov. 16.

Prior to joining UC, Kurtural was the inaugural Bronco Wine Company Research Chair in Viticulture at California State University, Fresno. From 2005 to 2008, Kurtural was a Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist at the University of Kentucky. His research focuses on improving production efficiency, fruit quality and pest management in vineyards.

Kurtural has done extensive research on mechanization of crop load management for optimizing grape yields and composition in the San Joaquin Valley.

Kurtural is part of a team recently awarded a $6 million, four-year USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative grant for precision vineyard management. Kurtural leads the variable-rate crop load study in winegrapes, juice grapes and tablegrapes. He is also planning field trials to look at different rootstocks under different irrigation regimes to evaluate them for drought tolerance, water-use efficiency and rooting systems. One rootstock trial with red grape varieties is planned at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, and a rootstock trial with white grape varieties will be conducted on the UC Davis campus. He also expects to work with other researchers on fertilizer use and efficiency and its effects on grape flavonoids, red blotch virus and training systems for mechanical production efficiency.

Kurtural, a native of Turkey, earned his B.S. in plant and soil science, M.S. in pomology and Ph.D. in plant biology, all at Southern Illinois University.

Based at the Oakville Station, Kurtural can be reached at skkurtural@ucdavis.edu and (707) 944-0126.

To read more about Kurtural, visit http://news.bftv.ucdavis.edu/ven/index.html?display_article=1349.

Theodore Grantham
Grantham named UCCE climate and water specialist

Theodore Grantham joined UC ANR on Dec. 1, 2015, as a Cooperative Extension specialist in climate and water in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. His research focuses on the relationships between hydrological and ecological processes in studies relevant to the management of water resources. Through applied, cross-disciplinary investigations that employ hydrological and hydraulic modeling, empirical field studies, geospatial analysis and ecological statistics, his work aims to inform sustainable, cost-effective water management policy and practice in California.

Prior to joining UCCE, Grantham was a Mendenhall Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the U.S. Geological Survey at the Fort Collins Science Center. He also spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher with the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis and one year as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Barcelona.

He has over 10 years of experience investigating California water management challenges, working in partnerships with research institutions, government agencies and NGOs. His previous research has largely focused on understanding ecosystem water needs and identifying strategies to incorporate ecological principles in water management practices, policy and decision-making.

Grantham completed a Ph.D. in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley and a B.S. in biological sciences from Stanford University.

Grantham, who is located in Berkeley, can be reached at (510) 664-4664 and tgrantham@berkeley.edu.

Aparna Gazula
Gazula named area small farms advisor

Aparna Gazula joined UC ANR on Jan. 4, 2016, as a UCCE area small farms advisor in Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Mateo and San Benito counties.

Prior to joining UCCE, Gazula had been a Cooperative Extension agent in commercial horticulture since 2009 at University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension in Alachua County, where 97% of all farms in the county are small farms. She was responsible for planning, delivering and evaluating educational programs for the vegetable, fruit, nursery and landscape management industries. Gazula, who speaks Hindi and Telugu, has worked with peppers, tomatoes, watermelons, strawberries, Asian vegetables and microgreens. She conducted variety trials for peppers and fresh market tomatoes and has studied drip irrigation, nutrient management and pest management.

Gazula earned her B.S. in agriculture from A.N.G.R. Agricultural University, India, an M.S. in horticulture and crop science from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in horticulture from University of Florida.

Based in San Jose, Gazula can be reached at (408) 282-3127 and agazula@ucanr.edu.

Carissa Koopmann Rivers
Rivers joins UC ANR in Siskiyou County

Carissa Koopmann Rivers joined UC ANR Cooperative Extension on Feb. 1, 2016, as a livestock and natural resources advisor in Siskiyou County. Rivers is a fifth-generation partner in her family's cow/calf operation in the Alameda County town of Sunol. She and her husband also manage their own set of commercial and registered Red Angus cattle.

Prior to joining UCCE, Rivers was a junior specialist in the Rangeland Watershed Laboratory at UC Davis and from 2011 to 2015 was a land manager for the National Audubon Society. She specializes in livestock grazing systems, rangeland ecology and management, livestock management and wildlife and livestock interactions.

Rivers earned her Master of Agriculture degree in integrated resource management from Colorado State University and her B.S. in animal science, livestock production management, from California State University, Fresno.

Based in Yreka, Rivers can be reached at (530) 842-2711 and ckrivers@ucanr.edu.

Lenya Quinn-Davidson
Quinn-Davidson named UCCE fire advisor

Lenya Quinn-Davidson is the new UC ANR Cooperative Extension area fire advisor for Humboldt, Trinity, Mendocino and Siskiyou counties beginning March 1.

Since 2011, Quinn-Davidson has been a staff research associate II with UCCE in Humboldt County. During her time there, she has focused on fire science outreach as the coordinator for the Northern California Region of the California Fire Science Consortium, and worked on various research projects with her UC colleagues. She is passionate about oak woodland ecology and restoration, and recently led the development of a successful $2.6 million grant for oak woodland restoration in the North Coast. She is also the director of the Northern California Prescribed Fire Council.

Quinn-Davidson earned a B.S. from UC Berkeley in conservation and resource studies, and an M.A. in social science from Humboldt State University (from the Environment and Community Program).

Based in Eureka, Quinn-Davidson can be reached at (707) 445-7351 and lquinndavidson@ucanr.edu.

Lucas Frerichs
Frerichs joins Strategic Communications

Lucas Frerichs joined UC ANR as government affairs and community relations manager on Jan. 4.

“I am excited to use my experiences working in state and local government to assist UC ANR in building more effective relationships with local and state elected officials and community leaders throughout the state of California,” said Frerichs, who has served as a Davis city councilman since 2012.

Frerichs brings to UC ANR a decade of experience working in the California State Assembly in Sacramento. Most recently, from 2010 to 2015, he served as legislative director for Assemblyman Rich Gordon, chairman of the Assembly Rules Committee, advising Gordon on agriculture, housing, natural resources, energy and the budget process.

Frerichs spent his childhood in upstate New York and Alaska, but has been active in the Davis community since graduating from Davis High School. In addition to the city council, Frerichs serves as vice chair for the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (Amtrak California), and as board member for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, Yolo County Transportation District (Yolobus) and the Yolo Habitat Conservancy. He is also an appointed member of the California Tax Credit Allocation Committee. On environmental matters, Frerichs is a board member for the Yolo Basin Foundation, which oversees the management of 16,000 acres of wetland habitat in the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.

Based in the ANR Building in Davis, Frerichs can be reached at (530) 750-1218 and lfrerichs@ucanr.edu.

IFT honors German and Winter

Bruce German
Bruce German, UC Davis food science and technology professor, has been selected to receive the 2016 Institute of Food Technologists' Gilbert A. Leveille Award and Lectureship.  Awarded in partnership with the American Society of Nutrition, the Gilbert A. Leveille Award recognizes outstanding research and/or public service at the interface between the disciplines of nutrition and food science, over a period of five years or more, which has contributed to improved health and well-being.

Carl Winter
Carl Winter, UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist and vice chair of the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, has been selected to receive the 2016 Institute of Food Technologists' Bernard L. Oser Food Ingredient Safety Award. This award honors an Institute of Food Technologists member for his or her contribution to the scientific knowledge of food ingredient safety or leadership in establishing principles for food ingredient safety evaluation or regulation.

Both will receive their awards in a ceremony of the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Exposition in Chicago on July 16, 2016.

For a full list of the Institute of Food Technolgists' 2016 Achievement Award recipients, visit

http://www.ift.org/membership/awards-and-recognition/award-recipients.aspx.

Jeff Stackhouse
Stackhouse and Moores win national SRM award

The Lone Star Ranch, owned and operated by the Moore Family in Kneeland, was recognized as the North American winner of the 2016 Society for Range Management's Excellence in Range Management award. The sustainable way the Moores manage livestock, silviculture and vegetation is supported by the work of Jeff Stackhouse, UC ANR Cooperative Extension livestock advisor in Humboldt County. The ranch was recognized regionally by the Society for Range Management for Excellence in Range Management last fall, then advanced to win the national award.

The award was based upon the positive impacts of the Moore family's efforts in environmental stewardship, community support and inter-agency collaboration.

Mark and Dina Moore
“For seven generations, the Moore family has demonstrated innovative environmental stewardship, providing collaborative leadership and blazing new trails for private landowners as they navigate the nation's changing environmental climate,” said Stackhouse. “The Lone Star Ranch excels in conservation of California's working forests and rangelands through social and economic stewardship that benefits water quality, wildlife resources, and their community. As a multi-generational family, diversification and sustainability of the ranch enterprise are the utmost priority. Yet, all family members remain humbly dedicated to community involvement and provide astonishing amounts of local, regional and national service.”

Dina Moore serves on the UC President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The ranch employs numerous business enterprises, including, but not limited to: sustainable beef grazing and timber harvest, goat grazing for vegetation management, and a heavy equipment business to install restoration projects and improve roads. Sediment reduction in streams from road runoff is one of the greatest successes of the Lone Star Ranch and the Yagger/Van Duzen Environmental Stewards (YES), a landowner non-profit organization headed by Dina Moore.

Posted on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 12:41 PM

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