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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

UC ANR introduces Market-based Adjustment Plan for staff salaries

Attracting and retaining highly qualified employees is a top priority for UC ANR. To be more competitive among many diverse employment markets, UC ANR leadership has developed a plan to address the competitiveness of our staff salaries. 

As part of UC ANR's overall compensation strategy, VP Humiston approved a four-year Market-based Adjustment Plan for non-represented staff to ensure salaries of existing staff are better aligned with the labor market. All non-represented staff are eligible to participate in this plan, regardless of their position's funding source. For some whose compensation has fallen behind market rates, the Division is making a significant effort to address this issue, as long as it is fiscally viable and prudent to do so.

Using UC Career Tracks, UC ANR Human Resources will be able to identify, review and address the salaries of non-represented staff members whose pay is not in the targeted competitive zone. This strategy will be implemented over four years, which will allow us to better manage the fiscal impact of the salary adjustments.

Eligible employees will be notified individually within the next few weeks. These market-based adjustments are separate and distinct from any merit program approved centrally by President Napolitano.

For more information, please read the FAQs at http://ucanr.edu/sites/ANRSPU/Supervisor_Resources/Compensation/Equity_

Posted on Monday, February 27, 2017 at 1:03 PM

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