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Muramoto hired as first UCCE organic ag specialist

Joji Muramoto

Joji Muramoto joined ANR on May 29 as an assistant Cooperative Extension organic production specialist. The first UCCE specialist hired to focus on organic agriculture, Muramoto will coordinate a statewide program focused on fertility and pest management in organic production systems across the state.

He has a joint affiliation with UCCE and the Department of Environmental Studies and the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at UC Santa Cruz. Muramoto, who is fluent in Japanese, is also an affiliate professor in the Department of Agricultural Chemistry, Tokyo University of Agriculture, Japan.

Prior to joining ANR, Muramoto served in multiple capacities at UC Santa Cruz. Since 1996, he has conducted research and extension on fertility and soil-borne disease management in organic and conventional strawberry and vegetable production in coastal California. Over the course of his 32-year career as a soil scientist/agroecologist, Muramoto has secured and managed over $11 million of external grants as a principal investigator or co-PI, conducted numerous field-based research projects, published 39 peer-reviewed or invited papers or book chapters including several multidisciplinary papers, supervised more than 100 undergraduate student workers and interns, and given more than 90 extension presentations in California.

Muramoto earned a Ph.D. and an M.S. in agriculture chemistry (soil science), and a B.S. in agriculture chemistry from Tokyo University of Agriculture. 

Based at the UCSC Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems in Santa Cruz, Muramoto can be reached at (831) 459-2178 and

Amir Haghverdi
Haghverdi receives USDA New Investigator Award

Amir Haghverdi, assistant UC Cooperative Extension irrigation and water management specialist in the UC Riverside environmental sciences department, has been awarded a nearly $500,000 Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement New Investigator grant by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

NIFA Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement Grants are highly competitive funds awarded to researchers at the beginning their career, with less than five years postgraduate career-track experience.

Haghverdi's research focuses on developing and disseminating scientific knowledge, practical recommendations, and tools for sustainable urban and agricultural water resources management. His approaches include field research trials, laboratory analyses, and computer modeling, with a goal of identifying opportunities for synergy between research and extension activities. 

The award will support a project to enhance irrigation management in Southern California desert agriculture. – Holly Ober


Monica Cooper
Cooper receives Viticulture Extension Distinction Award

Monica Cooper, UCCE viticulture advisor for Napa County, received the 2019 American Society for Enology and Viticulture Extension Distinction Award on June 19 at the ASEV National Conference at the Napa Valley Marriot Hotel.

Cooper joined UC Cooperative Extension in Napa County in 2009 as a viticulture farm advisor. Her applied research and outreach programs provide data-driven information to the vineyard industry. She directs the Napa Valley Vineyard Technical Group, a local forum for technical information and collaborative learning. Fluent in Spanish, she also offers education programming to farmworkers.

Cooper's early career was defined by programs addressing invasive pests such as vine mealybug and European grapevine moth. Her current research interests include disease epidemiology, pest management, rootstock evaluation, labor issues affecting farmworkers and improving extension delivery. 


ESA Pacific Branch honors Grafton-Cardwell, Dara, Williams

Beth Grafton-Cardwell

Beth Grafton-Cardwell, Surendra Dara and Neal Williams received awards from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America April 2 at PBESA's annual meeting in San Diego.

Grafton-Cardwell, director of the Lindcove Research and Extension Center, UCCE IPM specialist and research entomologist with the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside, received the CW Woodworth Award, which recognizes an individual Pacific Branch ESA member for outstanding accomplishments in entomology over the past 10 years. Her research interests include all aspects of integrated pest management of citrus pests, including biocontrol, pheromone disruption, pesticide efficacy and selectivity, pesticide resistance management, pest monitoring and economic thresholds. With her collaborators, Grafton-Cardwell has authored over 60 journal articles and over 270 extension articles on these subjects. In the past decade, she has spent much of her time responding to invasive pests and disease, the most serious situation being Asian citrus psyllid, the vector of huanglongbing, a deadly bacterial citrus disease. Her extension program on this subject reaches the citrus industry, Master Gardeners, homeowners, regulatory agencies and the news media.

Surendra Dara
Dara, UC Cooperative Extension entomology and biologicals advisor, received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension, which recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to extension entomology. Dara, who serves San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, studies pest management with biostimulants, biopesticides and other biological materials. He has authored more than 340 scientific and extension publications that include 13 book chapters, three co-edited manuals, and several peer-reviewed trade journal, newsletter and eJournal articles. Dara has delivered presentations worldwide and has trained strawberry and vegetable growers in Bangladesh, Haiti, India, Kosovo, Moldova, Myanmar and Transnistria about crop production, pesticide safety and IPM.   

Neal Williams
Williams, a pollination ecologist and professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at UC Davis, won the Plant-Insect Ecosystems Award. The annual award is given to an individual with outstanding accomplishments in the study of insect interrelationships with plants. His research focuses on the ecology and evolution of bees and other pollinator insects and their interactions with flowering plants. Williams was recently named a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences.

July 17-20, Williams will co-chair the Fourth International Conference on Pollinator Biology, Health and Policy at UC Davis. The four-day conference, themed “Multidimensional Solutions to Current and Future Threats to Pollinator Health,” will highlight recent research advances in the biology and health of pollinators, and link to policy implications.

Jim Stapleton
Stapleton and biosolarization team win DPR award

Jim Stapleton, UC IPM plant pathologist based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, received a 2018 California Department of Pesticide Regulation Integrated Pest Management Achievement Award as co-PI of the Soil Fumigant Alternatives BioSolarization Team. The scientists research techniques that can be used in place of agricultural soil fumigants to reduce human health and environmental risks.

For the past 14 years, this team has generated and disseminated a large body of information on soil pest management practices. By improving the implementation and efficacy of biosolarization, the team is seeking to create an alternative to soil fumigants—a DPR priority issue. Solarization is a well-established pest management practice. Biosolarization, and its cousin anaerobic soil disinfestation, are newer and lend themselves to innovations in quality and implementation. The team's work on quantifying the factors that influence effectiveness has the potential for tailoring treatments to individual sites and reducing pesticide use throughout California. In addition to managing soil pests and pathogens, biosolarization practices promoted by the team aim to improve soil health and reduce landfill waste. Members of the team have been conducting outreach and collaborating with industry, academic/research groups, and public stakeholders for many years. More information is available at and

The award was presented Feb. 12 at Cal-EPA headquarters in Sacramento during a ceremony recorded at  

Kabashima honored for volunteer achievement 

Rick Otis, left, presents award to John Kabashima.
The Reduce Risks from Invasive Species Coalition presented John Kabashima, UCCE environmental horticulture advisor emeritus, an award for outstanding volunteer achievement for his continued efforts to address shot hole borers across California and the West. He received the award June 11 at a Congressional reception and awards program in Washington DC with a crowd of over 100 Congressional and federal agency officials in attendance. The event was hosted by RRISC and Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) as co-chairs of the Congressional Invasive Species Caucus. 

The polyphagous shot hole borer, an invasive wood-boring beetle, attacks dozens of tree species in Southern California, including commercial avocado groves, common landscape trees and native species in urban and wildland environments. The beetle spreads a disease called fusarium dieback, which can kill trees.

“Noticing insufficient support from the California state legislature, John spearheaded an Invasive Species Summit in January 2018 to develop consensus recommendations that conservation organizations would use to lobby state legislatures,” said the RRISC. “This effort, in consultation with John, developed two bills based on the Summit's recommendations, and retained $5 million to address invasive shot hole borers. While the efforts to maintain funding and awareness continue, John's excellent, actionable leadership has helped produce important awareness for a pressing invasive species issue.”

Sourbeer and Zacarias receive EFNEP awards 

From left, Sonia Rodriguez, who nominated Johana Zacarias, Katie Panarella, director of Nutrition, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Leah Sourbeer.

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture presented awards to two California women for their role in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). EFNEP participant Johana Zacarias of Yolo County and Leah Sourbeer, UCCE EFNEP supervisor, were honored at the 50th Anniversary celebration at the National EFNEP Coordinators Conference in Virginia, March 11-14.

Zacarias, a young mother of four children, participated in EFNEP at Cedar Lane Elementary School in Olivehurst, Calif. EFNEP educator Sonia Rodriguez suggested participants check with their doctors before changing their exercise and dietary habits. Zacarias visited her doctor and discovered she had early stage fatty liver disease.

 “I was 220 pounds, never exercised, nor controlled my diet,” Zacarias told an EFNEP educator. “Because of the changes I made coming to EFNEP, using the Walk Indoors CD, I now weigh 166 pounds, and my liver is normal.”

Sourbeer, who supervises seven EFNEP educators in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, developed online systems to enable educators to capture outcome data and success stories. She seeks out professional development opportunities for herself and staff to enhance evidence-based nutrition knowledge, teaching methodologies, and social determinants of health.

“Leah demonstrates exceptional programmatic skills,” her nominators wrote. “She often mentors other EFNEP supervisors and represents EFNEP staff on two university-wide committees.”


Long honored with Bradford Rominger Ag Sustainability Leader Award

From left, VP Glenda Humiston, Rachael Long and Tom Tomich, director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, which hosted the award event.

Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension advisor covering integrated pest management for field crops in Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties, is the recipient of the 2019 Bradford Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award.

During her career with UCCE, Long has been a pioneer in developing practices to protect water quality from agricultural crop production, helping farmers meet state mandates for clean surface water. She worked on hedgerows, documenting that field edge plantings of native California plants attract beneficial insects, including bees and natural enemies, for better pest control and pollination in adjacent crops. She documented that birds and bats are farmer allies; they help control codling moths in walnut orchards. She promotes hawks and barn owls for control of rodent pests. She has also written numerous publications focusing on agronomic practices for managing pest, weeds, and diseases in field crop production.

At the time she started her research projects over 25 years ago, her ideas were way outside the box and on the fringe. Now her work is mainstream with the UC IPM guidelines incorporating the value of habitat planting for enhancing natural enemies and pollinators on farms for better pollination and biocontrol of crop pests. The California Healthy Soils Initiative and Natural Resource Conservation Service have cost-share funding for hedgerow establishment on farms for pest management and carbon sequestration.

Long continues to do research on hedgerows, but more importantly, she strives to be a leader by teaching others about agriculture and the need to have co-existence between farming, food production, and wildlife conservation for a better world for all.

Long received the award at a presentation May 28 in the UC Davis Walter A. Buehler Alumni Center. Read more at

UC communicators win 10 ACE awards

Niamh Quinn shows that a coyote ate a rabbit. Steve Elliott won a gold award for writing within a specialized publication for “Learning to Manage – and Live with – Coyotes in Southern California.”
Three UC communicators were honored for their work by the international Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Life and Human Sciences (ACE).

Steve Elliott, communication coordinator for the Western Integrated Pest Management Center won four ACE awards:

  • A silver award for the Western IPM Center's monthly electronic newsletter, highlighting integrated pest management research, issues, funding opportunities, jobs and meetings.
  • A bronze award, with UC ANR designer Will Suckow, for the Western IPM Center website

Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, won five awards:

  • Kathy Keatley Garvey won a silver ACE award for a feature photo of a honey bee covered with mustard pollen.
    A gold award for her news story, "To Boldly Go, and the Chancellor Did: To an Insect Museum," chronicling UC Davis Chancellor Gary May, who is a Star Trek enthusiast, and Dean Helene Dillard's tour of the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
  • A silver award for a feature photo of a honey bee covered with mustard pollen.
  • A bronze award (third place) for "The Bee Man" newspaper story on Norm Gary, emeritus professor of entomology, book author, and retired bee wrangler
  • A bronze award for writing within a specialized publication. This was a feature on "Bugs and Beats," published in Entomology Today, a publication of the Entomological Society of America, and featuring the Entomology Band of UC Davis graduate students
  • A bronze award for her Bug Squad blog, "When Queen Bees Get Permanents," showcasing the art of Karissa Merritt, UC Davis entomology student, in a Bohart Museum calendar

Science writer Gregory Watry of the College of Biological Sciences won a silver award in the promotional writing category for his story, “Feeding the Future: Growing Stronger Crops.”

The awards were presented at the annual ACE conference June 26 in San Antonio, Texas. UC's recipients did not attend the event, which was held in a state that is subject to California's ban on state-funded and state-sponsored travel.



Posted on Monday, July 1, 2019 at 2:10 PM

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