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Posts Tagged: Glenn McGourty

Mendocino UC Cooperative Extension advisor Glenn McGourty retires

Glenn McGourty
When Glenn McGourty joined UC Cooperative Extension as a plant science advisor in Mendocino County in 1987, he was one of the first farm advisors in the state to have support for organic and sustainable farmers written into his job description. He helped transform Mendocino County into an environmentally friendly farming leader in California. McGourty retires July 1.

After earning a bachelor's degree in botany at Humboldt State and a master's degree in plant, soil and water science at the University of Nevada Reno, McGourty worked as a Cooperative Extension urban horticulturist in Las Vegas. Later he was a lecturer in the Environmental Horticulture Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and managed his family's walnut farm in nearby Paso Robles part time.

When McGourty was named a UCCE farm advisor, UC was beginning to endorse a systems approach to sustainable farming.

“I was certainly one of the people who took it to heart,” McGourty said.

In the late 1980s, most grape growers in Mendocino County disked the soil in vineyard rows every year to reduce weeds. Insecticides were applied that kept workers out of the vineyard for three weeks.

“Vineyards seemed pretty barren and not friendly to nature. We had a lot of soil erosion and water quality issues,” McGourty said. “My colleagues and I tried to find solutions that would boost soil organic matter and encourage beneficial insects and mites. One of our landmark research projects was coming up with good cover cropping systems for wine grapes.”

Those practices are widely implemented today, and across California interest in soil health and sustainability continue to grow. McGourty was assigned to also serve Lake County, where wine growers there adopted a strong interest in sustainable wine-growing practices.

“We have the Healthy Soils Program, in which CDFA is paying farmers to grow cover crops and use compost to sequester carbon in the soil. This came out of our research on alternative farming systems conducted in our region,” McGourty said.

Another research interest has been evaluating wine grapes from the Mediterranean region adapted to warm climates.

“After many years of working with ornamental plants, I realized that the plants that do best in California are all from a Mediterranean climate region,” McGourty said. “It made sense for me to look for wine grape varieties that like that climate, too.”

His research included trips to the Mediterranean area where he visited the wine grape varieties he had evaluated in their native habitat. He was invited to speak at foreign universities and conferences in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Australia on projects focused on alternative wine grape farming systems, including sustainable, organic and biodynamic farming in California.

McGourty has been honored by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources with emeritus status. As an emeritus advisor, McGourty plans to work on a national online database of wine grape varieties adapted to warm climates. In addition, he will be involved in a Lake County research project conducting a detailed evaluation of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on multiple clones and rootstocks.

Retirement promises to be busy for McGourty. In March, he received the most votes in the primary election for a position on the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. He will be immersed in campaigning until the runoff election in November.

Even if the election doesn't go his way, McGourty won't be idle. He manages a 10-acre wine grape and walnut farm on the Russian River, where he farms with the sustainable practices he taught local farmers during his career.

“I am so lucky! I have had one of the best jobs in UC and live in one of the prettiest places in California,” he said.

Posted on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 8:46 AM

Names in the News

Pratap Devkota
Devkota joins ANR as weed advisor

Pratap Devkota joined UCCE on Jan. 6, 2017, as an area low-desert weed science advisor for Imperial and Riverside counties. His primary research will address the weed management challenges on agronomic and vegetable crops (alfalfa, bermudagrass, Sudan grass, wheat, cotton, sugarbeet, lettuce, carrot, onion, spinach, cole crops and cucurbits) grown in Imperial, Coachella and Palo Verde valleys.

Prior to joining UCCE, Devkota was a graduate research assistant while working on his Ph.D., evaluating the influence of spray water quality factors on herbicide efficacy. He also researched the interaction of foliar fertilizers with herbicide and the use of adjuvants for improving herbicide efficacy as part of his Ph.D. research. From 2010 to 2012, Devkota studied weed management in vegetable crops as a graduate research assistant. For his master's thesis, Devkota evaluated the efficacy and economics of herbicide programs and soil fumigants as alternatives to methyl bromide for weed control in plasticulture tomato and bell pepper production.

Devkota earned his Ph.D. in weed science from Purdue University, an M.S. in weed science from University of Arkansas and a B.S. in agriculture science (major in agricultural economics) from Tribhuvan University, Nepal.

Based in Holtville, Devkota, who is fluent in Nepali and Hindi, can be reached at (760) 352-9474 and pdevkota@ucanr.edu.

Gordon named orchard systems advisor

Phoebe Gordon

Phoebe Gordon joined UCCE on Jan. 3, 2017, as an area orchard systems advisor for Madera and Merced counties. As a native Californian, Gordon is excited to be able to share her knowledge with growers to improve orchard production and sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley and beyond. She will be covering all tree crops, including stone fruit and figs in Merced. Gordon's extension and research efforts may include water quality, soil salinity, plant nutrition and pests and diseases.

Prior to joining UCCE, Gordon had worked as an agronomist for A&L Western Agricultural Laboratories in Modesto since March 2015. Her responsibilities involved maintaining the soil fertility and plant nutrition status database, providing clients with advice on proper sampling procedures and aiding them in interpreting soil, plant and irrigation water tests performed by the laboratory, and providing fertilizer recommendations based on soil data. At the Ohio State University, her graduate work was in ornamental shade tree production and outplanting and growing trees from seed or tissue culture to liner size using technologies of interest to the nursery industry. She planted a subset of these trees in an urban highway environment and monitored two years of growth and evaluated soil physical properties of the site.

Gordon earned a Ph.D. in horticulture and crop science from the Ohio State University and a B.S. in plant biology from UC Davis.

Based in Madera, Gordon can be reached at (559) 675-7879 and pegordon@ucanr.edu.

Deepa Srivastava
Srivastava named NFCS advisor for Tulare and Kings counties

Deepa Srivastava joined UCCE on Jan. 3, 2017, as an area nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for Tulare and Kings counties.

Srivastava earned a Ph.D. in human sciences from University of Nebraska-Lincoln with two certifications on transdisciplinary obesity prevention and mixed methods. She earned an M.S. in child development and family science from North Dakota State University. At University of Allahabad, India, Srivastava completed an M.A. in medieval history and a B.A. in English literature, economics and medieval history.

Prior to joining UCCE, Srivastava was project lead for SBSRC Methodology and Evaluation Research Core Facility at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She was responsible for designing and developing process evaluation methods including logic model and fidelity protocols, serving as lead for data collection and classroom observations, and assisting in curriculum development for EAT-Family Style project. From 2011 to 2015, Srivastava was a graduate research assistant in the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She was involved in multiple evaluation projects in nutrition and has taught graduate-level courses. Her work included evaluation of a middle school nutrition education program; process evaluation/fidelity testing of nutrition curriculum across childcare programs and middle schools; focus groups with EFNEP and a local food bank; implementation and evaluation of NAPSAAC program in early childcare settings; Fuel Up to Play 60 project; and Healthy Home Project for limited resources families. Her research interest is interdisciplinary, intersecting three areas: parenting, healthy lifestyle and culture.

Srivastava, who is fluent in Hindi, is based in Tulare and can be reached at (559) 684-3318 and dsr@ucanr.edu.

Mandeep Virk-Baker
Virk-Baker named NFCS advisor for Fresno and Madera counties

Mandeep Virk-Baker joined UCCE on Jan. 10, 2017, as a nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for Fresno and Madera counties. Virk-Baker is a registered dietitian and registered dietitian nutritionist.

Virk-Baker's doctoral training at University of Alabama at Birmingham focused on nutrition and cancer prevention including basic lab science and epidemiology. She received an independent competitive grant as the principal investigator to examine the prevalence of equol-producing status  (a bacterial metabolite of the soy isoflavone daidzein) and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women undergoing a physician-recommended breast biopsy. This trial was among the first to evaluate the metabolite-producing status in African American women.

Prior to joining UCCE, Virk-Baker was a cancer prevention postdoctoral fellow at the National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health for four years. At NCI, Virk-Baker's research was focused in the areas of nutrition, tobacco, dietary carcinogens, and cancer prevention. As a senior fellow, she led multiple independent projects and conducted cancer prevention research, establishing collaborations with investigators from various agencies, participating in professional workshops, preparing manuscripts for publications, and presenting research at national and international scientific conferences. Virk-Baker received the Sallie Rosen Kaplan Postdoctoral Fellowship award at the Center for Cancer Training/National Cancer Institute in December 2015. At this highly competitive leadership development postdoctoral fellowship program for female scientists at the NIH, Virk-Baker received state of the art didactic training for being an effective leader. While working on a health policy detail in the Division of Science and Policy, Office of the U.S. Surgeon General in Washington, D.C., she had an opportunity to gain valuable public health experience.

Virk-Baker earned her Ph.D. in nutrition sciences from UAB in 2012. She received a Master of Public Health and a Global Health Certificate from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2013. She also completed the Didactic Program in Dietetics from CSU Fresno, and completed a dietetics internship at Iowa State University. Virk-Baker also earned an M.S. in food and nutrition and a B.S. in home science from Panjab University, India.

Virk-Baker, who is fluent in Punjabi and Hindi, is based in Fresno and can be reached at (559) 241-7515 and mvirkbaker@ucanr.edu.

Karina Diaz Rios
Díaz Rios to co-lead Blum Center at UC Merced

UC Merced is relaunching its branch of the Blum Center for Developing Economies with a focus on food security for the first two years of the faculty-led effort. Karina Díaz Rios, a UC Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist, and Kurt Schnier, economics professor  with the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, will lead the rejuvenated Blum Center, with administrative help from the Health Sciences Research Institute.

They hope to make the Blum Center a hub for all food-security-related research and outreach on and off campus.

“We want to create a community on campus to address issues of food security,” Schnier said. “We want to help engage students, faculty members and the community to have a direct effect on people's lives.”

Plans include bringing speakers to the campus and community; supporting efforts such as the campus food bank, which serves students and others who don't always have enough food; helping support student researchers such as the students who serve as Global Food Initiative fellows; and facilitating — including through small grants — faculty research centered on food-related topics such as diabetes, communicating about food, and food and social justice issues.

“We're hoping to help translate research into projects that are relevant to the community,” Díaz Rios said.

Merced County's economy is largely based around agriculture, yet many residents do not have adequate access to food or information to help them make healthy choices.

Alec Gerry
Multistate fly project receives national award

Alec Gerry, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside, is part of a research team honored with the 2016 Experiment Station Section Award for Excellence in Multistate Research. 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 “S-1060: Fly Management in Animal Agriculture Systems and Impacts on Animal Health and Food Safety.”

Flies are serious pests of livestock and poultry. House fly, stable fly and horn fly species are responsible for damage and control costs that reach over $2 billion each year in the United States.

Through this project, the scientists developed new chemical, biological and microbial control methods, such as using adult flies to deliver pyriproxyfen, which disrupts insect growth, to sites where larvae are developing. A new fly trap for controlling horn flies removed between 1.3 and 2.5 million flies from a herd of 150 pastured dairy cows. The trap doesn't use insecticide and costs $1.50 less per cow than traditional chemical-based treatments.

Through research and outreach, they have given producers the information and tools needed to select appropriate control methods and apply them in a timely manner. Studies have shown what kinds of weather events and landscape features support fly population growth, and national surveys have shown where insecticide resistance is present. Effective fly management practices result in increased profits, a higher quality of life for animals, a safer food supply and improved quality of life in residential and recreational areas near animal facilities. Adoption of new non-chemical control methods significantly reduces the use of expensive insecticides, cutting costs for livestock producers and reducing harm to the environment.

Gerry shares the award with colleagues at Auburn University, Cornell University, Kansas State University, Louisiana State University, New Mexico State University, North Carolina State University, the Ohio State University, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M AgriLife, University of Arkansas, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Illinois, University of Massachusetts, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Tennessee, USDA-ARS, Washington State University, Central Garden and Pet Co. in Walnut Creek, Calif., and Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada. The project is supported in part by USDA NIFA.

For more information about the multistate project, visit www.veterinaryentomology.ucr.edu.

APLU recognizes one multistate project each year for high scientific quality, the level of collaboration and the professional leadership shown in conducting the project. 

A plaque and a small monetary award of $15,000 to support the research project were awarded to the group by the Experiment Station directors on Nov. 14, 2016, at the annual APLU meeting.

From left, California Department of Pesticide Regulation director Brian Leahy presented the IPM award to Ben Byczynski, director of Fetzer Vineyards and Grower Relations, Glenn McGourty, Houston Wilson, Lucia Varela and Ryan Keiffer.

DPR honors Virginia creeper IPM team

UC Cooperative Extension,winegrape growers, the Lake County Wine Grape Commission and the Mendocino County Farm Bureau were awarded a 2016IPM Achievement Award by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation for their leadership in protecting crops from Virginia creeper leafhopper.

In 2011, the tiny insect showed up in Mendocino and Lake counties, causing severe losses of wine grapes. By 2014, the new leafhopper had spread across thousands of acres and was devastating vineyards. Some organic growers began using conventional pesticides to stay in business.

Glenn McGourty, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for Mendocino and Lake counties, Houston Wilson, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM) at UC Berkeley, Lucia Varela, UC IPM advisor for the North Coast, Ryan Keiffer, UCCE agricultural technician in Mendocino, Kent Daane, UCCE specialist based in ESPM  and located at Kearney Research and Extension Center, and Serguei Triapitsyn, principal museum scientist at UC Riverside, have contributed to the efforts.

UCCE, grower-collaborators, pest control advisers, the Lake County Wine Grape Commission and the Mendocino County Farm Bureau collaborated to provide newsletters, videos and field days to teach growers to recognize the new leafhopper and its natural enemy, a tiny parasitic wasp that lays its eggs in leafhopper eggs. However, the plentiful natural enemies weren't adequately doing their job in Mendocino and Lake counties. Researchers brought in a new, effective strain of the wasps from the Sacramento Valley, which are now reproducing quickly on their host in the lab and are becoming established in the counties. Eventually, the wasp will enable both conventional and organic growers to reduce synthetic pesticides used to combat the new leafhopper.

The 2016 Achievement Awards were presented at a ceremony at the California Environmental Protection Agency headquarters on Jan. 26 in Sacramento.

To learn more about the Virginia creeper leafhopper project, visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/vclh.

 

 

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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