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Posts Tagged: Whitney Brim-DeForest

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Mohamed joins Kearney to research alfalfa irrigation

Moneim Mohamed

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 and (509) 781-4129 and on Twitter @moneim_z.

Brim-DeForest receives outstanding paper award

Whitney Brim-DeForest

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. 

From left, Luis Espino, Elizabeth Karn, Teresa De Leon and Kassim Al-Khatib, co-authors of the Weed Science Society of America award-winning paper.

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

Lynn Wunderlich. Photo by Evett Kilmartin

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

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

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.




Posted on Friday, February 26, 2021 at 5:32 PM

Brim-DeForest receives $1 million UCCE Presidential Chair for California Grown Rice

Whitney Brim-DeForest plans to use the endowed chair funds to study weedy rice.

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.


Posted on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at 6:46 PM
  • Author: Jeannette Warnert
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

Names in the News

Macaulay named rangeland specialist

Luke Macaulay
Luke Macaulay joined UCCE on June 30 as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist for Rangeland Planning and Policy in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley.

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 and @LukeRangeWalker on Twitter.

DiCaprio named food safety specialist

Erin DiCaprio
Erin DiCaprio joined UCCE on June 30 as a community food safety specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis. DiCaprio focuses on community food safety. She is involved with the UC Master Food Preserver Program and extends safe food handling, preparation and storage information to the general public.

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

Brim-DeForest named rice advisor

Whitney Brim-DeForest
Whitney Brim-DeForest joined ANR on June 20 as an area rice advisor in Sutter-Yuba, Placer and Sacramento counties.

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

Diaz named 4-H STEM coordinator

Jessica Diaz
Jessica Diaz is the new 4-H Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Academic 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

Katt Fontecha
Kathreen Fontecha has joined Communication Services and Information Technology as a senior 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

Bud inserted into rootstock.
ANR shares in multistate research award

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 video can be viewed at It is also in the ANR catalog

As editor of the California Master Gardener Handbook, Dennis Pittenger accepted the ASHS Outstanding Book Award for the comprehensive reference on basic horticulture

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.]


Posted on Saturday, July 30, 2016 at 9:02 AM

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