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Posts Tagged: Emily Symmes

Names in the News

McPherson joins ANR as Bay Area UCCE regional director

Frank McPherson

Frank McPherson joined UC ANR on Feb. 3, 2020, as a regional director for UC Cooperative Extension serving Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco and San Mateo counties, and Elkus Ranch Environmental Education Center. He is highly experienced in providing service to external and internal customers.

Prior to joining ANR, McPherson was director of Customer Service at San Jose-based BD Biosciences, where he led the Customer Service division of 75 employees and provided direction to clinical and research applications support, education services, technical support, contract administration and other teams.

From 2000 to 2013, McPherson served as a senior manager at Applied Materials where he led a team of highly skilled account service representatives; directed and managed Contact Center start-ups across the globe, negotiated contracts; and interfaced with planning, purchasing, order fulfillment and logistics to meet customer requirements.

From 1998 to 2000, as a manager at Air France, he was in charge of customer support for clients in Canada, the United States and Mexico. As a director of operations at Global Discount Travel from 1995 to 1998, McPherson managed 200 staff members with 2,000 accounts nationwide. From 1985 to 1995, as a superintendent in the US Air Force, he was in charge of command posts and operation centers.

McPherson holds a bachelor's degree in business management from University of Maryland and a master's degree in business management from Troy State University in Alabama. He is fluent in German.

He is based at the UCCE office in Concord and can be reached at (925) 608-6674 and fmcpherson@ucanr.edu.

Mada appointed ANR chief information officer

Sree Mada

After a long open search, Sree Mada has been named chief information officer, effective March 1, 2020. 

Mada has 22 years of technical, functional and business experience in the field of Information Technology. During his career, he has demonstrated strong expertise in enterprise technical solutions in various complex business transformative implementations.  

Mada joined UC in 2012, and in 2014 he joined ANR as program manager for UCPath. 

“UCPath successfully went live last October thanks in no small part to Sree's skills and commitment to UC ANR's mission, and to his colleagues and the team he led,” said Tu M. Tran, associate vice president for Business Operations. 

In his new role as chief information officer, reporting to Tran, Mada will be responsible for moving ANR to new technology platforms and readying our systems for an improved cybersecurity environment. He will also be responsible for implementing modern solutions for programmatic, business and administrative computing, in addition to building an organization that delivers efficient and effective technical solutions to advance the education, research and service mission of UC ANR. 

Mada holds certifications from the Project Management Institute and the Information Technology Infrastructure Library, in addition to earning a bachelor's degree in statistics and political science and a master's degree in computer science and applications from Osmania University, India. 

Mada will be located in office 173 in the ANR building at 2801 Second Street in Davis and can be reached at (908) 346-0196 and smada@ucanr.edu

Brown named director of Staff Human Resources

Bethanie Brown has assumed the role of director of Staff Human Resources effective Feb. 1, 2020.

Brown, who was associate director of Human Resources, now is responsible for staff recruitment and compensation, organizational development/workforce planning, UCPath Human Resources operations and employee/labor relations. Brown continues to report to John Fox in his role as executive director for Human Resources. Brown's expanded role over Staff Human Resources will allow Fox to focus on initiatives related to diversity, equity and inclusion, employee engagement and career development. Fox also continues to serve as ANR's Title IX and non-discrimination officer.

Tina Jordan, Academic Human Resources manager; Jodi Azulai, ANR Learning & Development coordinator; and David White, principal Affirmative Action analyst and Title IX investigator continue to report to Fox. 

Master Gardeners welcome three new program coordinators

Danica Lea Taber
Danica Taber, Katherine Uhde and Kali Burke became program coordinators for the UC Master Gardener Program last fall.

Growing up in Denver, Danica Taber explored plant cultivation as a student at University of Colorado Boulder by volunteering at the university greenhouses to help care for the phenomenal teaching collection. 

In 2012, she moved to Santa Barbara, where she gained growing experience. “I was fortunate enough to serve as the manager for UCSB's research greenhouses and teaching collections. I got a crash course in IPM, and I also began to appreciate how valuable invested volunteers are,” says Taber.  

After completing master's degrees in public affairs and environmental science at Indiana University-Bloomington, Taber moved back to the area to live with her husband.

Taber is based in Santa Barbara and can be reached at (805) 893-2125 and dltaber@ucanr.edu.

Katherine Uhde
Katherine Uhde started as the UC Master Gardener program coordinator in Santa Clara County in November 2019. Uhde transferred from UCCE Alameda County, where she was part of the UC CalFresh Healthy Living Program and led a gardening education program for older adults in partnership with the UC Master Gardener Program of Alameda County.

Originally from Iowa, Uhde earned her B.S. in kinesiology, public health option from Iowa State University, where she studied human nutrition, exercise science and public health. After graduating, she moved to Kansas where she coordinated regional food access programs and led statewide farmers market, food policy, and school health initiatives, including the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, which served over 5,000 eligible older adults through 19 local agencies and 450 certified farmers. Uhde also managed a weekly farmers' market on the capitol grounds in Topeka. She holds a Master Gardener Home Horticulture Certificate from Oregon State University Extension.

“Katherine is passionate about community policy, systems and environmental changes that are sustainable, protect the environment and promote healthy lifestyles. We are delighted to have her as part of the UC Master Gardener Program,” said Lucy Diekmann, UCCE urban agriculture and food systems advisor.

Uhde is based in San Jose and can be reached at (408) 282-3138 and kuhde@ucanr.edu.

Kali Burke
Kali Burke joined UC ANR as the program coordinator for the UC Master Gardener Program and UC Master Food Preserver Program in San Francisco and San Mateo counties in September.

Burke earned a bachelor's degree in sociology at UC Santa Cruz. After graduating, she pursued her interests in food, agriculture and education. Working with the local farm and garden community for close to 10 years now, she has experience in both the programs and operations sides of small nonprofits.

Burke is based in Half Moon Bay and can be reached at (650) 276-7425 and kaeburke@ucanr.edu.

Read more about the new UC Master Gardener program coordinators at https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=39206.

Almond Pest Management Alliance Team wins IPM award

The UC IPM Almond Pest Management Alliance Team. From left, DPR Director Val Dolcini, Brad Higbee, Chuck Burkes, Jhalendra Rijal, David Haviland, UCCE staff research assistant Stephanie Rill, and the Almond Board’s Jesse Rosemond, Bob Curtis, Rebecca Bailey and Jenny Nicolau.

The UC IPM Almond Pest Management Alliance Team received an award from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and California Environmental Protection Agency for their vigorous promotion of IPM and acting as a hub for growers, pest control advisers, researchers and others to organize their collective efforts and rapidly respond to arising pest issues.

The Almond Pest Management Alliance Team serves as a role model for the implementation of integrated pest management practices in California. The team consists of UC IPM advisors David Haviland, Jhalendra Rijal and Emily Symmes, industry researcher Bradly Higbee of Trécé, USDA scientist Charles Burkes and Bob Curtis of the Almond Board of California.

The team encouraged the adoption of mating disruption for managing navel orangeworm, a major pest in almond orchards, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. After they began demonstrating that mating disruption proved to be an economical pest control method in orchards, they saw a rapid rise in growers adopting the technology. Kern County showed a 26% countywide increase in the adoption of mating disruption from 2017-2018.

For more than a decade, the team conducted research on navel orangeworm, spider mites, leaffooted bug and ants that laid the groundwork for IPM adoption. For the past three years, the team put these IPM practices on display using eight demonstration orchards across the San Joaquin Valley as part of a CDPR Pest Management Alliance Grant.

PCAs and growers who participated in UC Almond Pest Management Alliance activities were surveyed – an average of 93.8% of participants stated that information that they received was considered when making pest management decisions.

The Almond Pest Management Alliance Team also received a California State Assembly Certificate of Recognition sponsored by Assemblyman Rudy Salas.

A three-minute video about the Almond Pest Management Alliance Team can be downloaded at https://ucdavis.box.com/s/7bo2ckkxi7kfvqevc346js6m6g3gvtg5

Raul Calderon, second from left and legislative intern for Assemblyman Rudy Salas, presented a California State Assembly Certificate of Recognition to David Haviland, Brad Higbee, Chuck Burks, Jhalendra Rijal, Stephanie Rill and Bob Curtis.

Quinn-Davidson and Stackhouse win CSAC Challenge Award

Lenya Quinn-Davidson and Jeffery Stackhouse

The California State Association of Counties honored UCCE Humboldt County advisors Lenya Quinn-Davidson and Jeffery Stackhouse and the Humboldt County Prescribed Burn Association with one of its 18 Challenge Awards to recognize county innovation and best practices. As part of the award, CSAC wrote a story at https://www.counties.org/county-voice/first-west-humboldt-countys-prescribed-burn-association-teaches-value-fire and produced a video about their efforts. The video is posted at https://youtu.be/EhkCFRVZ2NE

In 2017, Quinn-Davidson and Stackhouse developed the Prescribed Burn Association, which has steadily grown. The association is composed of landowners, nonprofits, volunteer firefighters and other community members who work together to carry out prescribed burns on private land. Until the association was created, most landowners and community members  lacked access to prescribed burn information and training.

In 2017, Quinn-Davidson and Stackhouse developed the Prescribed Burn Association, which has steadily grown. The association is composed of landowners, nonprofits, volunteer firefighters and other community members who work together to carry out prescribed burns on private land. Until the association was created, most landowners and community members had lacked access to prescribed burn information and training.

The concept of a prescribed burn association is catching on. Quinn-Davidson and Stackhouse have presented the Humboldt County model to numerous counties around the state.

Beyond the benefit of prescribed burns for land management, Quinn-Davidson and Stackhouse say the association brings together groups that have traditionally been at odds – ranchers, people who work in timber, environmentalists and cannabis growers.

“Instead of being on opposite sides of an issue, people are gaining understanding for the other side,” Stackhouse told CSAC. “It has opened the door for real, honest communication between different groups that otherwise would not be happening. Having people work together who have been on different sides of the community really is amazing.”

Meyer receives Water Quality Stewardship Award

Deanne Meyer

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board presented its Water Quality Stewardship Award to Deanne Meyer, a UCCE specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis, on Feb. 6.

Meyer studies livestock waste management, lectures in the Department of Animal Science and advises agricultural and environmental majors. She is also the environmental stewardship module coordinator for the California Dairy Quality Assurance Program (CDQAP), part of the California Dairy Research Foundation.

Meyer has provided technical advice and comments in developing the North Coast Regional Water Board's dairy program. She provides technical expertise at CDQAP workshops to help dairy operators comply with the requirements of the Regional Water Board's dairy permit. Meyer also served on the Technical Advisory Committee for the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Alternative Manure Management Program. Meyer is currently working with Regional Water Board staff on a contract to test manure and soil on 30 North Coast pasture-based dairies to assist dairy operators in developing a nutrient budget for Nutrient Management Plans.

The Executive Officer's Water Quality Stewardship Award is an annual award given to an individual or group whose exceptional work contributes to the preservation and enhancement of surface water and groundwater quality in the North Coast Region. 

4-H Camping Advisory Committee receives national research award

From left, Jennifer Henkens, 4-H program representative; Marianne Bird and Connie Coutellier, director of Camp Wyandot.

The American Camp Association recognized the California 4-H Camping Advisory Committee with its 2020 Eleanor P. Eells Excellence in Research in Practice Award. Marianne Bird, 4-H youth development advisor in Sacramento County and chair of the 4-H Camping Advisory Committee, accepted the award on behalf of the team on Feb. 12 At its national conference in San Diego.

The Eells Award recognizes programs that apply innovative, quality research or evaluation findings to improve program practice, and share their findings with others.

Since its inception in 2004, program evaluation and improvement has been a focus of the California 4-H Camping Advisory Committee. However, engaging the 25 or more local, volunteer-run camps in program assessment proved challenging.

To engage camps in data and the program improvement process, the committee embraced the use of “data parties” to share results and encourage dialogue with the camps participating in the current study. A data party gathers stakeholders to analyze or interpret collected data.  The committee invited camps to bring a team of three to six people (4-H teen leaders, adult volunteers and professional staff) to explore statewide findings, as well as data from their own camp. Teams then created an action plan for improving their programs.

The event encouraged buy-in and a sense of ownership to the data.  Participants reported new insights and greater understanding of the data, and cited changes they had made to their programs as a result. Since initiating the data party format four years ago, participation in the statewide evaluation has grown from nine to 22 camps.

“When those engaged in programming understand and embrace data, then is an evaluation truly useful,” said Bird. “These are the people who can make change happen. For California 4-H, the camp data party has been the key to opening dialogue and improving our programs."

Delivering hope in the midst of loss

During evacuation from the Camp Fire, Tracy Schohr tweeted information for people seeking refuge for large animals.

Between the Camp Fire in Butte County and the Woolsey Fire in Southern California in November, most ANR members have been affected in some way by the devastating wildfires. Several have experienced major personal losses that they are still dealing with.

While the Camp Fire was still raging on Nov. 14, Emily Symmes, director of UCCE in Butte County, wrote:

“As you can imagine, due to the destruction of nearly the entire town of Paradise and other ridge communities, all of our employees have numerous friends, family, and loved ones who have lost their homes and all of their belongings, as evacuations were so sudden and urgent that most left with only what they could grab in minutes. As such, all have been affected to varying degrees. We have two direct staff members, Alexandra Falk (nutrition education specialist) and John Klepps (Honey Bee Tech Transfer Team) who lived in Paradise. Both have received confirmation that their homes were among those destroyed. They and their families and pets are now safe and have found temporary housing. Many in our extended network of 4-H and Master Gardener program participants and volunteers resided in Paradise have also been heavily impacted, losing everything.”

Among the Master Gardener volunteers in Paradise who lost their houses is Bob DiPietro and his wife, parents of Damon DiPetro of ANR's IT team. Damon's sister and her family also lost their house.

Colleagues have asked how to help.

Emergency resources for UC employees

In response to queries, the Staff Assembly has posted information on their website about the impact of the Camp Fire on our ANR employees and their families at http://staffassembly.ucanr.edu/Resources_/Emergency_Resources_/. Earlier in the year, they posted similar information for those impacted by the Mendocino fires and have committed to maintain Emergency Services information on their website whenever any UC ANR employees are impacted. 

Emergency support is also available to UC employees from the university's benefit plans https://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/2018/11/emergency-support-from-ucs-benefit-plans.html.

UCCE staff in Butte County and other counties have been reaching out to assist community members.

UC ANR assists Camp Fire survivors

In the midst of their own losses, UCCE staff in Butte County and neighboring counties have been reaching out to assist community members. For example, Ryan Cleland, 4-H representative, has been working with the 4-H community since Nov. 8, the day the Camp Fire erupted, to coordinate assistance and volunteerism. He is providing vetted and frequently updated information on where evacuated and displaced people can find help and how other community members can volunteer, donate and contribute.

The UCCE nutrition education team has been assisting with meal preparation at shelters, and also with volunteering at indoor youth activities available through the shelters and the local area recreation district.

Other UCCE staff and advisors have been volunteering where needed – helping gather and deliver supplies, volunteering at human shelters and animal shelters, helping out at the numerous meal centers that have popped up.

UC Master Gardener volunteers have been reaching out to fellow Master Gardeners who have lost their homes or remain evacuated to offer housing and other support.

Tracy Schohr, UCCE livestock and natural resource advisor in Plumas and Sierra counties, has been helping care for large animals in the evacuation zone.

The forestry, fire and natural resource advisors have ongoing fire safety research and education programs, coordinating with fire safe councils, and working with other agencies to assist in recovery and become better prepared for natural disasters.

Posted on Wednesday, December 5, 2018 at 9:47 AM

ANR reaches out to donors on #GivingTuesday

Last year, 4-H in Placer County was successful in attracting donations through its #GivingTues campaign.
This year ANR will participate in #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season. 

Last year, the 4-H Youth Development Program and UC Master Gardener Program successfully participated in #GivingTuesday campaigns.

“Our goal for 4-H was to raise $10,000 and we exceeded our goal with donations totaling over $13,000,” said Andrea Ambrose, acting director of Development Services. 4-H programs in 17 counties participated. In Placer County, the robotics team got their friends and family involved to promote #4HGivingConfidence on social media, leading Placer County to collect the largest amount for the 4-H Youth Development Program.

Although not as widely recognized as the shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday appeals to people swept up in the spirit of giving at the end of the year.

“#GivingTuesday is a wonderful opportunity for all ANR programs to augment their funding with private donations,” said Ambrose.

A website is being created with links to all of ANR's programs, Research and Extension Centers and extension offices. Donors will be invited to designate the program or location to which they wish to donate. The URL for the #GivingTuesday website will be announced in ANR Update soon. 

ANR will provide a toolkit for county offices and programs to participate. It will include:

  • A customizable letter to send to stakeholders
  • Templates for “unselfies.” Donors may take photos of themselves holding an unselfie sign and share on social media how they are giving.
  • Sample tweets and social media posts
  • Sample thank you note
Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2016 at 12:29 PM

UC Research to Policy Conference puts science into action

Jason Delborne described the roles of a scientist in policy as outlined in Roger A. Pielke, Jr.'s book "The Honest Broker": pure scientist, issue advocate, science arbiter and honest broker.
A diverse group of UC scientists working on agricultural, natural resources and food issues came together at the First Research to Policy Conference to explore how to use research to effectively engage in public policy. The event, hosted by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, was held on the UC Davis campus on Oct. 12-13.

“We focused on fostering a good dialogue and facilitating co-learning among attendees,” said event co-chair Leslie Roche, assistant UC Cooperative Extension specialist in rangeland management. “We hosted university faculty, statewide CE specialists and academics, and county-based CE advisors—as well as local policymakers and leaders from non-governmental organizations and statewide programs.”

UC researchers who have successfully engaged in the public policy arena provided numerous models of linking research and policy. There were five key take-aways for scientists:

-          Honest broker role – Present policymakers with various policy options, based on sound research. Have a clear understanding of the science behind your messaging. Use qualitative data to tell the story of the hard quantitative data.

-          Active engagement – Be part of informational and oversight hearings. Empower communities to take action and foster community engagement.

-          Build coalitions – Collaboration is imperative. Develop unexpected allies and foster long-term relationships, realizing it may take some time to bear fruit.

-          Disseminate information – Share your data in user-friendly formats. Target local community, Legislature and state agencies to inform policies. Get your science into trainings and continuing education programs. Leverage your coalition to expand the circulation of your research results.

-          Target messages – Develop a strong, concise message to deliver your research. Use an emotional connection – “Old-growth oak woodlands” versus “oak woodland.”

Throughout the conference, speakers highlighted the multiple levels of engagement for researchers in the policy arena, with different roles matching different needs – some take a center stage, while others play imperative behind-the-scenes roles.

Keynote speaker Jason Delborne, associate professor of science, policy and society at North Carolina State University, encouraged engaging the public. “Science is a social process,” he said, noting that community and public engagement is often key to successfully applying research to policy. Delborne also touched on the tension between expertise and democracy, commenting that we can't always resolve it and often we have to learn to live with this tension.

From left, Mindy Romero, Lorrene Ritchie, Thomas Harter, David Lewis and Yana Valachovic, shared what they have learned from engaging in policy.

A diverse set of researchers shared their perspectives from experiences in engaging in policy. The panel included Thomas Harter, Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair in Water Management and Policy and UCCE specialist in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources at UC Davis; Lorrene Ritchie, director of the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute; Mindy Romero, founder and director of California Civic Engagement Project at UC Davis Center for Regional Change; and Yana Valachovic, UCCE forest advisor and county director in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. They discussed the importance of building strong science-based programs, actively engaging local communities and building coalitions of support.

From left, Amrith Gunasekara, Tina Cannon Leahy, Anne Megaro, Rebecca Newhouse and Juliet Sims described how they use research to shape policy.

Guests from both government and non-government organizations who use research to shape policy shared their perspectives on translating science to decision-making.

“Science is the foundation for developing programs,” said Amrith Gunasekara, science advisor for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Tina Cannon Leahy, attorney with the State Water Resources Control Board, noted that policymakers and decision-makers are often looking for a clear, “black-and-white” answer, while for scientists, there is “no answer,” but rather information.

Anne Megaro, consultant to the California Senate Committee on Agriculture, and Rebecca Newhouse, consultant to the California Senate Environmental Quality Committee, both emphasized the importance of making sure science is accessible and digestible.

Juliet Sims of the Prevention Institute explained how her organization uses both published scholarly literature and community stories to effectively inform its advocacy platform.

Keynote speaker Rachel Morello-Frosch, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, introduced the concept of moving from “translational research” to “transformational research,” a shift that requires deep community engagement in meaningful ways to effect policy change.

During a breakout session, participants discuss current research that has policy implications.

In the afternoon, four breakout sessions were offered: “Policy structures and opportunities for engagement” with Robert Waste, “Relational approaches to science communication and engagement” with Faith Kearns, “Putting it into practice–UC ANR case studies” with Dave Campbell, Clare Gupta and Lucas Frerichs, and “Navigating policy engagement: Education vs advocacy,” with Adrian Lopez and Kit Batten. These training modules helped participants build technical skills and analytical frameworks for successful policy engagement.

The Research to Policy Conference was a forum to exchange ideas and share perspectives, continuing to bridge the gap between science and policy communities. It challenged attendees to be open to new ways of thinking, shared innovative outreach methods and showcased how research can have an impact in the policy arena.

“The event brought cross-fertilization and co-learning between disciplines – nutrition, forest management, water quality – and there were common themes that resonated for all participants,” said event co-chair Gupta, assistant UCCE specialist in public policy and translational research.

VP Glenda Humiston wrapped up the policy conference by saying, "Good science is vital for good policy. It's great to see UC folks enhancing these skills to bring science together with policy."

For more information on applying research to policy, contact Frerichs, UC ANR government and community relations manager, at (530) 750-1218 or lfrerichs@ucanr.edu, or Research to Policy Program Team contacts Gupta at cgupta@ucdavis.edu and Roche at lmroche@ucdavis.edu

Names in the News

Rebecca Ozeran
Ozeran named UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor

Rebecca Ozeran joined UCCE on Sept. 12 as the area livestock and natural resources advisor in Fresno and Madera counties.

Raised in Yuba City with a passion for animals and the land that supports them, Ozeran plans to focus her research, outreach and extension education efforts on current issues impacting livestock producers and land managers in both counties.

Prior to joining UCCE, Ozeran was a range management intern for the Bureau of Land Management in the Salt Lake City field office. Her duties included collecting inventory, utilization and rangeland trend data, checking livestock compliance on BLM allotments and collaborating with local archaeologists to ensure compliance with archaeology requirements before grazing permit renewal. From July 2014 to May 2016, Ozeran was a graduate research and teaching assistant for the Department of Animal and Range Sciences at Montana State University.

She earned a B.S. in animal science with a minor in Spanish from Cal Poly, and an M.S. in animal and range sciences with a certificate in applied statistics from Montana State University. Her thesis studied patterns and risk factors of cheatgrass invasion in Montana foothills rangelands.

Ozeran is based in Fresno and be reached at (530) 415-2555 and rkozeran@ucanr.edu.

Axelson joins UCCE as forest health specialist

Jodi Axelson

Jodi Axelson joined UCCE on June 1 as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in forest health in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM) at UC Berkeley.

Axelson's broad research interests include forest resilience, adaptive management and forest disturbance; specifically, she is focused on forest dynamics and response to insect disturbances from outbreaks of bark beetles and conifer defoliators using a range of methods including dendrochronology. Learn more about her research at http://ourenvironment.berkeley.edu.

Prior to joining UCCE, Axelson was employed by the British Columbia government as a forest entomologist with Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. In this position, she was responsible for forest health issues in an area covering 42,000 square miles comprised of distinct wet- and dry-belt ecosystems. She gained considerable experience in taking into consideration timber, wildlife and land stewardship objectives when performing insect monitoring, treatment and risk-mitigation.

She earned her B.S. in geography from the University of Victoria (British Columbia, Canada), an M.S. in geography from the University of Regina (Saskatchewan, Canada) and a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Victoria.

Axelson is based at the UC Berkeley campus and can be reached at (510) 642-8459 and jodi.axelson@berkeley.edu. Follow her on Twitter @DisturbedDendro.

Haghverdi joins UCCE as urban water specialist

Amir Haghverdi

Amir Haghverdi joined UCCE on July 1 as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Sciences at UC Riverside. His research focuses on integrated urban water management.

Prior to joining UCCE, Haghverdi had been an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, performing research and extension on irrigation and water management, since July 2015.

Haghverdi earned his B.S. in irrigation engineering from University of Tehran, Iran, an M.S. in agricultural engineering - irrigation and drainage from Bu-Ali Sina University, Iran, a Ph.D. in irrigation and drainage engineering from Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran, and a Ph.D. in biosystems engineering from University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Haghverdi can be reached at (951) 827-4774 and amir.haghverdi@ucr.edu.

Saitone named ag economics specialist

Tina Saitone
Tina Saitone joined UCCE on June 1 as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE) at UC Davis, where she is focused on livestock and rangeland economics. Saitone conducts research on a broad range of topics in agricultural economics including food quality and safety, agricultural cooperatives, industry competition, generic commodity promotion, and federal and state marketing orders.

Prior to joining UCCE, Saitone had been a project scientist for ARE since July 2015. Before returning to UC Davis, she worked for OnPoint Analytics, an economic consulting firm in the Bay Area, where she conducted research on a wide variety of agricultural industries including meatpacking, dairy, eggs, broilers and sugar beets.

Saitone earned her B.A. in economics at Sonoma State University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics at UC Davis.

Saitone can be reached at (530) 752-1870 and saitone@primal.ucdavis.edu.

Bautista named 4-H STEM coordinator

Jessica Bautista

Jessica Bautista joined ANR on July 5 as the 4-H Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) academic coordinator.

Prior to joining ANR, Bautista was a graduate research assistant in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at UC Riverside. Bautista's area of research interest focused on molecular biology and genetics in plant developmental biology.

As a native Californian and a first-generation student born to Mexican migrant parents, Bautista speaks Spanish and has fostered various methods to make her research accessible and advocate for STEM career paths for underrepresented communities. In 2012, Bautista co-founded UCR's Plant Discovery Day in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences. This annual outreach event is filled with interactive science demonstrations for elementary school students in the community. She has also presented her research and discussed her career path annually since 2013 at workshops geared towards teaching and empowering young Latina women to pursue higher education and various career options.

Bautista completed a B.S. in biotechnology (chemistry minor) from California State University Northridge and a Ph.D. in plant biology from UC Riverside.

Bautista is based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1341 and jbautista@ucanr.edu.

Pourreza wins international prize for HLB detection

Ali Pourreza

Newly appointed UC Cooperative Extension agricultural engineering advisor Alireza Pourreza has been awarded the 2016 Giuseppe Pellizzi Prize by the Club of Bologna, an honor presented every other year to the best doctoral dissertations focused on agricultural machinery and mechanization. The Club of Bologna is a world taskforce on strategies for the development of agricultural mechanization.

Pourreza, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Florida in 2014, worked on early detection of Huanglongbing disease of citrus. Huanglongbing, an incurable disease that is spread by Asian citrus psyllid, has seriously impacted citrus production in Florida. The disease has been found in commercial and residential sites in all counties with commercial citrus.

Early detection allows growers to remove infected trees before the disease can spread to healthy trees. Currently HLB infection is confirmed when leaves with yellowing blotches are submitted for PCR testing, which is expensive and time-consuming. However, the yellowing can be also symptomatic of other conditions, such as nutrient deficiency.

"We discovered we could see the symptoms of Huanglongbing using a camera, a set of cross-polarizers and narrowband lighting before it is visible to the human eye," said Pourreza, who is based at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.

He said the yellow blotches on HLB-infected leaves are caused by starch accumulation.

"If we could detect abnormal levels of starch in the leaf, we could tell it is affected with HLB," Pourreza said. "Starch showed the ability to rotate the polarization plane of light. We used this optical characteristic to develop the sensing methodology."

Pourreza said the team has patented the technique and is working on developing a commercial product. He is seeking funding to continue the research in California, where, to date, HLB has only been detected in isolated Los Angeles neighborhoods. Asian citrus psyllid is found in important California commercial citrus production regions from the Mexican border to as far north as Placer County.

From left, Keith Nathaniel, Fe Moncloa, Shannon Horrillo, Russell Hill and Dorina Espinoza.

4-H Youth Development team wins national diversity award

4-H Youth Development advisors Dorina Espinoza, Russell Hill, Fe Moncloa and Keith Nathaniel and 4-H associate director Shannon Horrillo have won the National Extension Diversity Award for systematically enhancing the intercultural competency of 4-H personnel and others in California.

The award, given by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Cooperative Extension System and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), honors the team for creating and using Intercultural Development Inventory© to shift organizational culture. This shift includes mutual respect, acceptance, teamwork and productivity among diverse people.

To meet the needs of a culturally and ethnically diverse youth population in California, they created a professional-development intervention for 4-H academics and staff. The Intercultural Development Inventory© is a cross-culturally generalizable, valid and reliable assessment of intercultural competence. Calling themselves the Intercultural Development Inventory Qualified Administrators, they applied the strategy over three years, providing 176 hours of intercultural communication feedback sessions, learning communities and regional conferences to enhance the intercultural competence of 65 4-H personnel.

Evaluations demonstrated that after the intervention UC 4-H Youth Development Program personnel had acquired skills and characteristics to become more culturally competent. The program has moved from focusing on similarities across diverse people that can mask deeper recognition of cultural differences to recognizing the complexity of dimensions of diversity.

The action plan and resulting positive change provides the potential to improve hiring and professional development nationwide by replication in other states. A summary of California's IDI professional development activities can be found in the National 4-H Latino Youth Outreach: Best Practices Toolkit, Professional Development.

The National Extension Diversity Award will be presented on Nov. 13 at the 129th APLU Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. 

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