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Names in the News

Obrist joins UC ANR as vice provost for academic personnel and development 

Daniel Obrist

Daniel Obrist joined UC ANR on Aug. 15 as the vice provost for academic personnel and development. Obrist will initially hold a 50% appointment through the end of 2022 before assuming the role full-time on Jan. 1, 2023.

Currently, Obrist is a professor and the chairperson of the Department of Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. His academic and educational background includes ecology and ecosystem science, hydrogeology, atmospheric and environmental sciences, and soil science.

He has published over 85 peer-reviewed publications including in high-impact scientific journals such as Nature, Nature Geoscience, Nature Reviews, and PNAS, and has a strong record of extramural research funding. Obrist has given more than 230 conference and seminar presentations.

“I am excited to contribute to the important mission of UC ANR to bring research and knowledge generated by the UC system to the people of California,” he said. “In my role, I will strive to support academic personnel at UC ANR and help recruit additional outstanding scientists to further ANR's mission. As I said during my interviews, a guiding principle of mine is to further sustainability and protect natural resources, and I am committed to supporting Californians in adapting to a fast-changing environment.”

Obrist will be based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 464-8301 and dobrist@ucanr.edu.

Norville named fire advisor in Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties 

Tori Norville

Tori Norville started on Aug. 1 as the new UC Cooperative Extension fire advisor for Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties.

In this capacity, Norville will work with residents and organizations within the wildland-urban interface to encourage and cultivate fire-adapted communities. She aims to provide education and outreach on home hardening, defensible space and the importance of forest and fuel management on the landscape.

While pursuing her bachelor's degree in forestry and natural resources at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Norville became interested in “disturbance ecology” – how factors such as disease, insects and fire affect landscapes and environments. 

“Many of the forest health problems we are seeing are stemming from a lack of disturbance, which traditionally was fire,” Norville said. 

Her understanding of fire and its effects deepened during her master's degree studies in forestry science (also at Cal Poly SLO), as well as through her seven years with CAL FIRE at the Jackson Demonstration State Forest in Mendocino County. She worked as the Registered Professional Forester for its Timber Sales Program, and then the Research and Demonstration Program. 

Norville's firsthand experiences from the past few fire seasons have helped shape her goals and approach. She hopes to “work holistically with disturbances” – specifically fire – on the landscape to foster healthy forests and ecosystems that are adaptable and resilient, while also researching the environmental and social aspects of fuel-reduction projects and prescribed fire.

“Hopefully, I can begin to change the perception of fire from something we need to fear, to something we respect,” she said.

Norville, based at the UCCE office in Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, can be reached at trnorville@ucanr.edu.

Atim named UCCE specialist in abiotic stress 

Jackie Atim

Jackie Atim began working as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist affiliated with UC Merced on July 11, based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier.

Atim's work will include applied research focused on abiotic stress, which includes plant stress caused by extreme temperatures, high salinity, floods, drought or nutrient deficiency. In particular, she will be studying the genetic makeup of sorghum, its resistance to drought and the value it contributes to byproducts such as bioenergy. 

California, as Atim explained, is an ideal place to study drought resilience given its semi-arid climate and water challenges. She is hopeful that California will establish sorghum as a climate-smart crop for forage and grain to address the challenges facing water-stressed production systems.   

Furthermore, Atim will focus on “transforming science that can be consumed by ordinary farmers and growers alike.”

While Atim understands the importance of research-based decision-making, she also recognizes the challenges that non-academic audiences experience when applying such information. As a start, Atim anticipates collaborating with communications experts to simplify research findings and create visually appealing resources. 

Before joining UC ANR, Atim worked as a plant pathologist for the National Agricultural Research Organization based at Mukono Zonal Agricultural Research and Development Institute in Uganda. In addition to pathology, Atim has expertise in plant breeding and entomology.

Atim earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture and education from Kyambogo University in Uganda. She has a master's degree in plant biotechnology from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and a doctorate in agriculture, plant breeding and entomology from the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom.

Atim can be reached at jatim@ucanr.edu. Follow her on Twitter @JackieAtim2.

Gyawaly named IPM advisor 

Sudan Gyawaly

Sudan Gyawaly joined UC Cooperative Extension on July 5 as an area integrated pest management advisor serving Butte, Sutter, Yuba, Glenn, Colusa and Tehama counties.

Prior to becoming an IPM advisor, Gyawaly was an associate specialist at UCCE in Stanislaus County, where he studied tree nut pests, including walnut husk fly, navel orangeworm, and Pacific flatheaded borer. Before that, he was a post-doctoral researcher at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, studying pest management on vegetables and fruit trees on small farms.

In his new role, Gyawaly is learning about the crops and pest situation in the region by talking with growers and other stakeholders. He plans to develop a need-based applied IPM research and extension program for orchards, tree nuts and other crops grown in the region.

He earned an M.S. in entomology from West Virginia University and a Ph.D. in entomology from Virginia Tech.

He earned his undergraduate degree in agriculture in his native Nepal, then worked in rural areas of Nepal for a couple of years, providing sustainable vegetable production and pest management trainings to growers before moving to the United States in 2009 for graduate studies.

Gyawaly is based in Oroville and can be reached at (530) 538-7201 and sgyawaly@ucanr.edu. Connect with him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sudan-gyawaly-987320221.

Padasas named nutrition and health advisor 

Irene Padasas

Irene Padasas started as UC Cooperative Extension community nutrition and health advisor for Tulare, Kings, Madera and Fresno counties on June 13.

Padasas will design her education and research programs for communities based on their priority needs within the broad areas of healthy lifestyles, health equity, food, nutrition, water security and safety, and climate change and health.

As part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' work to promote healthy families and communities, Padasas also will support the efforts of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in California and the Cal Fresh Healthy Living, University of California Nutrition Education Program.

After earning a bachelor's in special education at the University of the Philippines Diliman, and a master's in developmental psychology from the Ateneo de Manila University, Padasas received her Ph.D. in human sciences – with a specialization in global family health and well-being – from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. 

In Nebraska, Padasas played a significant role in extension programs that promote positive and healthy child and adolescent development, such as co-developing curriculum for UpStarts, a program that provides youth entrepreneurship and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) education for high school students in rural areas. 

She also led the analyses of qualitative data from the Ecological Approach to Family Style Dining, a research intervention program that aims to support young children's health and nutrition in early childcare centers subsidized by USDA's Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Padasas' current research centers on social and cultural factors that shape the quality of life and well-being of families.

“To serve our communities more effectively as an advisor, I'm focused on exploring the role of culture in health communication to better understand adoption and acceptance of health and nutrition education programs in the community,” Padasas said.

Padasas is based at the UCCE office in Tulare and can be reached at iopadasas@ucanr.edu and (559) 684-3300. 

Ellsworth joins Capitol Corridor 

Susan Ellsworth

Susan Ellsworth joined UC Cooperative Extension in January as director for the Capitol Corridor, which serves Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties.  

Her priority as county director is supporting Capitol Corridor staff and helping programs to thrive, while continuing to deepen her knowledge about food systems and community vitality. Ellsworth runs a small olive oil operation in conjunction with her family and said she is thrilled to be back in the Sacramento Valley after 10 years in the Bay Area.

Prior to joining UCCE, Ellsworth worked for the Alameda County Resource Conservation District as a food systems specialist with a focus on supporting new entries to farming and ranching. She has a background in urban agriculture – including serving as co-founder of Common Good City Farm in Washington D.C. – as well as in facilitation and conflict resolution related to natural resource management. 

Ellsworth earned a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Colby College and a master's degree in community development from UC Davis.

Ellsworth is based in Woodland and can be reached at (530) 574-9947 or sellsworth@ucanr.edu

Moore, Conrad, Yu, Dampier join IT staff

From left, Heather Moore, Chun Yu, Natalie Conrad and Stephen Dampier.

Information Technology recently hired four more IT experts to assist UC ANR employees.

Heather Moore has joined the IT Help Desk team as a computer resources specialist. She serves as the primary point of contact for ANR staff and affiliates with computer hardware, software, mobile and other technology needs and problems affecting individuals and departmental technology and network connections.

She also provides phone and in-person diagnosis, prioritization and support for all walk-in, telephone, email and web-based requests for assistance, logging service tickets in a tracking system. 

Before joining UC ANR, she graduated from Sierra College in the spring of 2022, with an AA degree in business information. Previously she was a para educator at Sierra Elementary School in Rocklin.

Chun Yu has joined the IT Team as an IT service desk analyst. As part of the highly service-oriented ANR IT Service Desk team, he serves as a primary point of contact for ANR staff and affiliates for assistance with computer hardware, software, mobile and other technology needs.

He earned a bachelor's degree in computer science at Sacramento State University. 

Natalie Conrad has joined the IT team as an information systems analyst. She brings 13 years of experience in the printing software and hardware industry.

"I am excited to expand the Help Desk team and am looking forward to assisting all departments throughout the organization," Conrad said.

Moore, Conrad and Yu are based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at Help@ucanr.edu.

Stephen Dampier is the new IT trainer. He will be helping UC ANR employees with accessibility of websites, how to use Zoom, how to use Site Builder, and how to use the Integrated Web Platform (IWP). 

He has been a user interface (UI) developer and engineer for about 20 years, working for startups. 

“If you've used OpenTable to make a restaurant reservation or have used Tallie Expense Software or bought something from PotteryBarnKids.com, then you may have used my UI,” Dampier said. “I am passionate about good user experience, accessibility and love the challenges of search engine optimization.”

Prior to his UI career, Dampier was a photographer and a fine arts photography teacher at the University of Central Florida and the San Francisco Art Institute. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in fine arts and was an exhibiting artist for years. 

Dampier added, “I was also a drummer for a long time in various punk and rock and roll bands. I've built my own offshore fishing boat, which I use to fish the San Francisco Bay, Tomales Bay and the big blue Pacific Ocean. You'll see me come and go on my Aprilia Falco motorcycle or my beast of a diesel truck on rare occasions.” 

Dampier is based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at sdampier@ucanr.edu

Harper named Agriculturalist of the Year 

John Harper receives Agriculturalist of the Year Award. Photo by Glen McGourty

John Harper, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor for Mendocino and Lake counties was named Agriculturalist of the Year by the Board of Directors for the Redwood Empire Fair. 

“John's service to our ranchers, wool-growers and ecologists cannot be overstated,” said Jennifer Seward, Redwood Empire Fair CEO. “He has provided more than a lifetime of service to our communities.”

For the past 31 years, Harper has served Mendocino and Lake counties as the UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor, and as UCCE director in both counties for about 15 years.

Harper's achievements include ranch water-quality management planning, sheep shearing and wool classing schools, development of the first UCCE livestock and natural resources web pages, rangeland grass and plants identification workshops, meat harvest and processing feasibility studies, a beef quality assurance program, utilizing sheep grazing for canopy floor management of vineyards, and ranch road workshops.

Harper also produced videos on range monitoring for residual dry matter and stream restoration methods and co-developed an online rangeland ecology and management course. 

The award was presented to Harper at a special pre-fair kickoff Director's Dinner on Aug. 6.

AAEA lauds bee paper 

Honey bee photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

Several scientists from UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics have been recognized by the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association for co-authoring a paper recently published in the Journal of Economic Entomology. 

The paper, “Balancing Bees and Pest Management: Projected Costs of Proposed Bee-Protective Neonicotinoid Regulation in California,” received the award for “Outstanding Published Paper Which Significantly Contributed to Transdisciplinary Work of Specialty Crops Industries.”

Co-authors Rachael Goodhue, Agricultural Experiment Station professor at UC Davis, UCCE specialists Ian Grettenberger and Houston Wilson, and emeritus UCCE specialists Beth Grafton-Cardwell, Robert Van Steenwyk, and Frank Zalom shared in the award.

Their co-authors include Kevi Mace, Jessica Rudder, Hanlin Wei and John Steggall of UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Tor Tolhurst of Purdue University, and Daniel Tregeagle of North Carolina State University.

There has been a recent effort from state and national governments to regulate neonicotinoids – a critical crop protection tool for many pests. Without mitigation measures, they can be harmful to managed pollinators, including bees. 

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation began crafting regulation in 2018 to mitigate neonicotinoid dangers to managed pollinators. As a result, three papers were written estimating potential economic impacts on California farmers for mitigating neonicotinoid risk. Those findings were then incorporated as CDPR began finalizing the regulation. The second of the three papers on neonicotinoids received the award. 

New California Organic Research Agenda available online

A new report examines current needs and challenges of organic farmers and ranchers across California. Joji Muramoto studies organic strawberries. Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta

Organic Farming Research Foundation has published the new California Organic Research Agenda (CORA), a comprehensive report that examines current needs and challenges of organic farmers and ranchers across California and provides policy and research recommendations to address producer-identified issues.

The CORA report is a companion to OFRF's 2022 National Organic Research Agenda. The national organic survey data boasts responses from over 1,100 producers and 16 listening sessions held across the U.S. Using the California subset of the national survey data, the CORA report highlights the top production and non-production challenges cited by California's organic farmers and ranchers.
 
“Organic farming has been historically under-invested in, in terms of research, education and extension,” says OFRF Executive Director Brise Tencer. “Both the new California Organic Research Agenda and the 2022 National Organic Research Agenda present incredible feedback directly from organic farmers and provide a compelling roadmap for how to best support the growth of this important sector of agriculture.”
 
Report findings indicate that managing production costs is a substantial challenge for 71% of producers surveyed, and accessing labor proved to be the leading non-production challenge. An overwhelming number of state producers (76%) expressed substantial need for technical assistance with the organic management of weeds, pests, and disease. In addition to detailing farmer challenges on and off the field, OFRF's CORA report provides a comparison analysis of farmer responses based on commodity and farming experience. National and state comparisons are also included in the report.
 
Production of the CORA report was supported in part by the University of California Organic Agriculture Institute (UC OAI), a new statewide program within the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), as well as the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology.
 
“One of our primary activities is to generate new research and extension programs focused on organic agriculture,” says Houston Wilson, director of the UC OAI. “The CORA report provides an excellent roadmap to guide and prioritize our efforts, we're really excited to turn this information into action.” 
 
According to the California Department of Food & Agriculture, state farmers and ranchers were responsible for 40% of all organic agricultural product sales in the country. Data from a 2019 USDA organic survey concludes California has 965,257 acres in organic production, which is approximately 17.5% of all organic acreage in the country. OFRF's California Organic Research Agenda examines grower needs in the nation's top-producing state of organic agricultural commodities and specialty crops, paving the way for future research and investment.

"This report will benefit organic growers in California by playing a role as a critical reference to increase public support and develop research projects targeting specific needs that diverse organic growers in the state are facing," says Joji Muramoto, UC Cooperative Extension organic production specialist.
 
Each report is available online (www.ofrf.org/research/nora/) free of charge to farmers, policymakers, ag suppliers, seed companies, and the general public.

Posted on Monday, May 30, 2022 at 3:20 PM

Work group appointed to speed California’s shift to safer pest management

Jim Farrar
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation and California Department of Food and Agriculture launched a new work group to accelerate the systemwide adoption of safer, sustainable pest control practices.

Three UC ANR academics have been appointed to the work group. They include Jim Farrar, UC Integrated Pest Management Program director; Margaret Lloyd, UC Cooperative Extension small farm advisor for the Capitol Corridor; and Houston Wilson, UC Organic Agriculture Institute director and UCCE specialist; 

The 26-member Sustainable Pest Management Work Group includes farmers, community members, university researchers and representatives from commodity groups and the pesticide industry. They are charged with identifying pathways to minimize the use of toxic pesticides and expand the use of integrated pest management practices; better protect public and environmental health; and engage, educate and promote collaboration to achieve these goals.

Margaret Lloyd
"Transitioning away from toxic pesticides requires us to speed up the development of effective alternatives," said CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld. "By giving our farmers a suite of integrated pest management tools, we can better protect farmworkers and some of California's most vulnerable communities. This dynamic task force will give us the roadmap to achieve this bold vision."

"California agriculture is recognized not only for its quality and quantity, but also for the sustainable, innovative, forward-thinking way it is grown," said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. "Our farmers have been leaders in adopting integrated pest management and partnering with universities and technical assistance providers to meet our high standards for food, environmental and worker safety. This work group represents a broad array of perspectives to inform the next decade of research and development investment and new partnerships to continue the production of nutritious, delicious food and high-quality agricultural products with the least impact to our surrounding communities."

Houston Wilson
Funded in last year's budget, the group's work will build upon the recommendations of the Alternatives to Chlorpyrifos Work Group whose 2020 report identified alternatives to the hazardous insecticide and outlined actions to further support agriculture and the health of local communities, farmworkers and the environment. A new status update details additional actions DPR has taken based on the 2020 report, and how DPR and CDFA are working together to provide additional funding to the University of California and California State University to expand integrated pest management research and education. California prohibited virtually all uses of chlorpyrifos as of Dec. 31, 2020.

See the full announcement at https://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pressrls/2021/031021.htm.

Posted on Monday, March 29, 2021 at 10:55 AM

Names in the News

Marino named UCCE orchard specialist

Giulia Marino

Giulia Marino joined UC ANR as a UCCE orchard systems specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis on Jan. 22, 2020.

Her research investigates tree physiology and its application to enhance productivity, sustainability and competitiveness of fruit orchard production systems in a changing global scenario.

Prior to joining UC ANR, Marino was a researcher in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources at UC Davis, where she studied pistachio water use and tree performance under saline-sodic conditions. Some of her current research projects investigate the physiology of pistachio nut growth and shell split as a function of crop load and temperature, the impact of boron, salinity and hypoxia on pistachio vegetative growth and the effect of dormancy breaking agents on carbohydrates dynamics in cherry.

She earned a Ph.D. in fruit and forestry tree systems and M.Sc. and B.S. in agricultural science, all from the University of Palermo in Italy.

Marino is based at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier and can be reached at giumarino@ucdavis.edu.

Wilson named presidential director for Organic Agriculture Institute

Houston Wilson

Houston Wilson has been named the Presidential Director for the University of California's Organic Agriculture Institute, which was established in January 2020 with a $500,000 endowment by Clif Bar and a matching $500,000 endowment from UC President Janet Napolitano.

Wilson, a UC Riverside agricultural entomologist based at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, joined UC ANR as assistant Cooperative Extension specialist in 2017. He will launch the institute and chart a path for future growth while also focusing on immediate priorities such as a survey of organic production in California, multiple outreach and training opportunities for growers, publication of organic production guidelines, and developing research programs. Wilson's long-term goal is to continue to grow the endowment and position the organization to successfully support the state's growing organic farming economy. 

“Organic growers in California face an array of interconnected agronomic, economic and regulatory challenges,” said Wilson. “Tackling these issues simultaneously requires a multidisciplinary approach to develop solutions that work in all scales of production. The economic opportunities are there, and we want to help position California growers to reap these benefits, and in doing so increase the supply of affordable organic food for consumers.”

See the full story at https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=42592.

Feenstra named SAREP director

Gail Feenstra

Gail Feenstra has been appointed director of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP), effective July 1, 2020. Feenstra, who joined SAREP in 1989 and worked as the food systems coordinator, has been serving as acting director since October 2019, when Tom Tomich went on sabbatical. 

Vice President Glenda Humiston announced her appointment as part of the move to bring SAREP back to ANR's direct oversight effective July 1, 2020.

“I am excited to be part of a stellar SAREP team working more closely with UC ANR colleagues and community partners on strengthening resiliency of regional food systems and supporting economic and social justice for all people – from farmers and farmworkers to food system workers to consumers,” Feenstra said. 

Over the last 30 years, Feenstra has contributed to SAREP's definition of a sustainable food and agricultural system. She designed criteria for and funded community-based food systems statewide as part of SAREP's competitive grants program. Collaborating with ANR colleagues and others nationwide, she has worked to create an understanding of what sustainable, regional food systems are and how they function for communities.  

She helped initiate ANR's work in farm-to-school research and extension and her SAREP team was among the first to evaluate farm-to-school procurement data rigorously. From projects that focus on small and mid-scale farms to food hubs, food systems assessments and food policy councils, Feenstra is interested in uncovering the economic development potential of coordinated supply chain stakeholders and opportunities for building relationships between farmers, consumers and communities.

Feenstra earned an Ed.D. in nutrition education from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City, and a B.S. in dietetics and nutrition from UC Davis. 

Feenstra and the SAREP staff plan to relocate from the UC Davis campus to the ANR building in Davis. The SAREP members include Sonja Brodt, academic coordinator for agriculture, resources and the environment; Penny Leff, statewide agritourism coordinator; Kathleen Patrocinio, business manager; Shosha Capps, community food systems analyst; Gwenael Engelskirchen, sustainable supply chain analyst; and Laura Crothers, grants manager/ outreach coordinator.

 

Posted on Friday, May 29, 2020 at 3:22 PM

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.

 

 

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