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Names in the News

Jones named UCCE forestry advisor

Michael Jones

Michael Jones joined UCCE on Oct. 1, 2018, as the area forestry advisor in Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties. He specializes in forest entomology with a focus on forest health and integrated pest management of invasive and endemic forest pests.

Jones completed a Ph.D. in entomology from State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry and a B.S. in environmental biology and management from UC Davis.

Prior to joining UCCE, Jones was a graduate student and research project assistant at State University of New York. He developed and maintained research projects on delimitation, management, and biological control of the invasive forest pest emerald ash borer in New York. From 2010 to 2013, Jones was a research associate in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, in collaboration with the US Forest Service, Forest Health Protection in Southern California. He participated in a variety of forest pest research projects involving the detection, evaluation and management of endemic and invasive forest pests. He has been active in leading training activities for land managers and land owners in the field identification and management of forest pests, and training and supervising field crews in the collection of field data. As an undergraduate at UC Davis, he worked on sudden oak death with David Rizzo's lab group in the Department of Plant Pathology.

Based in Ukiah, Jones can be reached at (707) 463-4495 and mjones@ucanr.edu.

Sanchez named UCCE woody biomass specialist

Daniel Sanchez

Daniel Sanchez joined UCCE on Sept. 1, 2018, as a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in woody biomass utilization in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management at UC Berkeley. Sanchez is an engineer and energy systems analyst studying the commercialization and deployment of energy technologies that remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Sanchez's work and engagement spans the academic, nongovernmental, and governmental sectors. As an assistant Cooperative Extension specialist, he runs the Carbon Removal Lab, which aims to commercialize sustainable negative emissions technologies, and supports outreach to policymakers and technologists in California and across the United States.

Sanchez earned a Ph.D. and a M.S. in energy and resources at UC Berkeley.  He completed a B.S.E in chemical and biomolecular engineering at University of Pennsylvania.

Prior to joining the faculty of UC Berkeley, Sanchez was a AAAS Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow serving in the Office of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). He has previously held positions with the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, Green for All, and the California Public Utilities Commission.

Sanchez is located in Mulford Hall and can be reached at (215) 593-4493 (cell) and sanchezd@berkeley.edu. Follow him on Twitter @Dan_L_Sanchez.

Larbi named UCCE ag application engineering specialist

Peter Larbi

Peter Larbi joined ANR on Aug. 13, 2018, as a UCCE area agricultural application engineering specialist at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

Prior to joining ANR, Larbi had been an Assistant Professor of Agricultural Systems Technology in the College of Agriculture at Arkansas State University since 2014. He developed an integrated teaching and research program related to agricultural systems technology; developed and managed research in precision agriculture, agricultural machinery systems, remote sensing and sensor technology; and provided service to the university, college, local community and general scientific community. Larbi held a joint appointment in the Division of Agriculture at University of Arkansas.

From 2012 to 2014, Larbi was a postdoctoral research associate at the Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems at Washington State University. From 2011 to 2012, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Florida Citrus Research and Education Center.

Larbi earned a Ph.D. in agricultural and biological engineering from University of Florida and a M.Sc. and a B.Sc. in agricultural engineering from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana.

Larbi can be reached at (559) 646-6577 and palarbi@ucanr.edu.

Pyle joins Sierra Foothill REC grassland research team

Lysandra Pyle

Lysandra Pyle joined ANR on Aug. 15, 2018, as an assistant project scientist. Working closely with project directors at UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center and Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (EOARC), Pyle is leading a multistate research project investigating biotic and abiotic drivers of native grass recruitment on degraded intermountain rangeland and identifying potential management actions that can be used to improve large-scale restoration efforts.

Most of her field work and project development is being done from EOARC, which is in close proximity to the Oregon and California intermountain field sites. 

Pyle completed a Ph.D. in rangeland and wildlife resources from University of Alberta, Canada, and a B.Sc. in biology from University of Regina, Canada.

Prior to joining ANR, Pyle worked on contracts specializing in biodiversity monitoring and rangeland ecology while finishing a Ph.D. in rangeland and wildlife resources at the University of Alberta, conferred in April 2018. From November 2017 to March 2018, Pyle was a vascular plant technician with Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) at the Royal Alberta Museum. There, she identified vascular plants collected by ABMI technicians during the field season and contributed to publications.

Pyle also consulted as a plant community data analyst at Manitoba Forage and Grassland Association from January 2017 to March 2018, where she analyzed plant community data collected from the Aspen Parkland and Assiniboine Delta rangeland ecoregions, identified reference communities, and determined how they transition with disturbances such as grazing.

Her Ph.D. characterized the composition and diversity of grassland seed banks in two main studies: identified the diverse disturbance legacies and management histories of pastures on plant communities, seed banks, soils, and rangeland health, and examined legacy effects of pipelines on seed banks and biological soil crusts in native mixed grass prairie.

Pyle is based in Burns, Ore., and can be reached at (306) 551-1108 and lapyle@ucanr.edu. Follow her on Twitter at @GrasslandNerd.

Caeton named UCCE 4-H advisor

Nathaniel Caeton

Nathaniel Caeton was promoted to 4-H youth development advisor for Shasta, Tehama and Trinity counties on Aug. 1, 2018. 

Prior to accepting his current position as 4-H youth development advisor, Caeton had served as the 4-H community education specialist since 2013. He was responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the 4-H Youth Development Program in Shasta and Trinity counties.  During that time, he worked diligently to strengthen existing program relationships, while developing new relationships through outreach and collaboration. His master's work at CSU Monterey Bay combined multiple disciplines and built knowledge in the areas of learning theory, instructional design, instructional technology, interactive multimedia, assessment and evaluation. This enabled Caeton to plan, design, develop, implement and evaluate instructional programs. This work culminated in the creation of an electronic portfolio and capstone project, which involved the design and development of a one-hour e-learning module on diversity awareness for adult volunteers. He also actively volunteers with the Boy Scouts of America and the Civil Air Patrol.

Caeton earned an M.S. in instructional science and technology from CSU Monterey Bay and a B.A. in social sciences from CSU Chico.

Based in Redding, Caeton can be reached at (530) 224-4900 and nwcaeton@ucanr.edu.

Mahacek inducted into National 4-H Hall of Fame

Richard Mahacek
Richard Mahacek, UC Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development advisor in Merced County from 1976 to 2012, was inducted into the National 4-H Hall of Fame on Oct. 19 for his lifetime achievements and contributions to 4-H.

Mahacek was one of 15 people inducted during the ceremony at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md.

“We are proud to recognize the 2018 National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees for the passion, dedication, vision and leadership they have shown toward young people during their many years of service to 4-H,” said Jeannette Rea Keywood, National 4-H Hall of Fame Committee chair.

Mahacek joined a 4-H Club in Sonoma County when he was 10. During his 35-year 4-H career, Mahacek placed an emphasis on mechanical sciences and engineering projects. His work included development of curricula and activities in science processes, robotics, computers, GIS/GPS, bio-security and environmental issues, such as watersheds and wildlife habitats.

In 1988, Mahacek was a member of the team that developed the 4-H SERIES (Science Experiences and Resources for Informal Educational Settings) curriculum, which was funded by the National Science Foundation and Kellogg. SERIES was the first comprehensive pragmatic science education curriculum to join 4-H's traditional projects. In 2004, Mahacek served on the national leadership team for 4-H SET (Science, Engineering and Technology), a program that succeeded SERIES. Now known as STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Math), the project aims to enhance young people's interest in developing the knowledge and skills needed for the 21st century's technically oriented careers.

The crowning achievement of his career was the development of the 4-H Junk Drawer Robotics curriculum in 2011. The curriculum shows how to engage children in building robotic devices with rubber bands, Popsicle sticks, medicine dispensers and bamboo skewers – the kinds of things people already have around the house. The robotics program develops skills that go beyond science and engineering. The children learn communications, teamwork and critical thinking.

Junk drawer robotics is one part of a three-track robotics curriculum. The other tracks are virtual robotics, in which participants build virtual robots on computers, and robotics platforms, which employs commercial robot building kits for materials. The package of robotics programs was the No. 1 selling 4-H curriculum in the nation in 2011. Mahacek was also a driving force in the community in founding the UC Merced Engineering Service Learning Program Castle Science and Technology Center. This facility used a former US Air Force facility to provide hands-on science experiences to the youth of the county.

Mahacek received many honors for his contributions to 4-H and UC Cooperative Extension. In 1988, he received distinguished service awards from the state and national 4-H associations. The Merced County Farm City Ag Business Committee presented him its Agri-Education Award in 1992. Mahacek received the “Hands-On Heroes Award” at the Merced County Children's Summit.

Mahacek said the 4-H program has evolved during his tenure, but it has not changed its core objectives.

“We went from being a predominantly ag program to including many other topics. Our members used to live in just rural settings, but now they come from the suburbs and urban neighborhoods,” Mahacek said. “But we're still promoting the concept of working together and gaining confidence by learning practical skills.”

The National 4-H Hall of Fame honorees are nominated by their home states, National 4-H Council, the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents or 4-H National Headquarters/National Institute of Food and Agriculture based upon their exceptional leadership at the local, state, national and international levels.

Wilen recognized for contributions to nursery industry

Cheryl Wilen, left, receives award from Loren Oki.

Cheryl Wilen, area IPM advisor based in San Diego County, was presented the Research Award by the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC) for her contributions to the nursery industry at the CANGC Convention in San Diego on Oct. 10, 2018. 

“This award acknowledges Dr. Wilen's many significant contributions over her career that have benefited the California nursery and landscape industry,” said Loren Oki, UCCE environmental horticulture specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and co-director of UC's Nursery & Floriculture Alliance, who presented the award to Wilen.

Wilen specializes in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for ornamental plant production and maintenance in nurseries, greenhouses, field production, floriculture, turf and landscape, which has resulted in the use of pesticides in a more prescriptive manner and the development of alternative strategies to more efficiently control pests of ornamental plants. Although her primary research focus is the management of weeds, snails and slugs, her other areas of research include the Asian citrus psyllid, disease management in floricultural crops, nematode management in tomatoes, invertebrate pest management in nurseries, vertebrate pest management, mitigating pesticide contamination in surface water runoff, and soil solarization. 

Wilen also recently received the UC ANR Distinguished Service Award for leadership. She has served ANR as the acting and interim director of the Statewide UC IPM Program, leader of the Endemic and Invasive Pest and Disease Strategic Initiative, member of Program Council, organizer of the Pest Management Coordination Conference, chair of several UC ANR search committees, and chair and member of the South Coast Research and Extension Center Research Advisory Committee. 

Her current and previous professional service includes chair of the Basic Science Section Western Society of Weed Science, chair of Teaching and Technology Transfer Section Weed Science Society of America, chair or co-chair of meetings of professional organizations including the California Weed Science Society, and has served or is currently serving as a member of various committees of the Weed Science Society of America, Southern California Chapter of the California Association of Pest Control Advisers, Steering Committee of the 2015 International IPM Symposium, and the CANGC Research Advisory Committee.

The CANGC Research Award recipient is selected by their peers and colleagues from industry and academic community.

4-H teams bring home NAE4-HA awards

4-H staff from left, Dagmar Derrickson, Tamekia Wilkins, Marianne Bird, Claudia Diaz Carrasco, Charles Go, Lilliana Vega and Keith Nathaniel.

Katherine Soule, UC Cooperative Extension director and youth, families and communities advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, and community educators Janelle Hansen, Andrea Hollister, Laura Pena, Dagmar Derickson, Shannon Klisch, Melissa LaFreniere, Yezenia Romero, Yudilia Tomsen, Miguel Diaz, Betsy Plascencia, JaNessa Willis and Lisa Paniagua won the Excellence in Healthy Living Programming Award for the Western Region. The team also won the NAE4-HA Excellence in Healthy Living Programming for California. The Excellence in Healthy Living Programming Award recognizes outstanding efforts and impacts of NAE4-HA members in healthy living programming, evaluation, and/or research projects.

JoLynn Miller, UC Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development advisor for the Central Sierra, won Excellence in 4-H Volunteerism Award for the North Central Region. Miller was part of a team with members from the North Central Region that created the National 4-H Volunteer E-Forum.

At the state level, Kendra Lewis, academic coordinator; Sheila Bakke, 4-H program representative in Solano County; Gloria Gonzalez, 4-H SET program representative, Valerie Williams, 4-H program representative, and Shannon Horrillo, statewide 4-H Youth Development Program director, won the 4-H Military Partnership Award

The purpose of the 4-H Military Partnership Award is to recognize the individual or team who has created a positive Extension image through his/her/their leadership and citizenship as it relates to the development of the 4-H Military Partnerships on U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, and/or U.S. Navy installations and in the community as it pertains to Reserve Component service members and families.

John Borba, 4-H youth development advisor for Kern County, was honored with the 25 Years of Service Award, Steven Worker, 4-H youth development advisor for Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties received the Meritorious Service Award for service in 4-H programs for 15+ years. Charles Go, UC Cooperative Extension 4-H youth development advisor for Alameda and Contra Costa counties, received the Distinguished Service Award for more than 7 years of service. Go also has begun serving as western regional director on the NAE4-HA Board. Soule received the Achievement in Service Award for 3 to 6 years of service in 4-H programs.

They received the awards Oct. 10 at the National Association of Extension 4-H Agents conference in Columbus, Ohio.

Verdegaal inducted to San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame

Paul Verdegaal, left, is presented with Ag Hall of Fame award by Stockton Chamber of Commerce Special Events Director/Leadership Stockton Director Timm Quinn.

Paul Verdegaal, who retired after serving more than 30 years as UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor in San Joaquin County, was inducted into the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame on Oct. 18. Donald Rough, who was a UCCE pomology advisor, will be inducted posthumously.

“Verdegaal helped remove the stigma that Lodi could not grow premium wine grapes through exhaustive research, leadership and work with growers,” wrote Bob Highfill, marketing and communications manager for the Lodi Winegrape Commission, in the Stockton Record.

“During Verdegaal's tenure as farm advisor, the grape and wine industry in San Joaquin County flourished. Thirty years ago, there were 43,370 acres of grapes cultivated in San Joaquin County. In 2017, there were close to 100,000 acres. In 1986, Lodi was first recognized as an American Viticulture Area, but many, including the University, still felt that premium wine varietals could not be grown commercially in the Valley. Verdegaal worked hard to change that stigma.”

Kabashima honored with Urban Tree Legacy Award

John Kabashima, right, receives Urban Tree Legacy Award.
John Kabashima, UCCE environmental horticulture advisor emeritus, received the Urban Tree Legacy Award by the California Urban Forests Council and the San Diego Regional Urban Forests Council at a ceremony in San Diego on Oct. 26.

Kabashima's varied research and extension programs have included the management of insects, diseases, and biological control of exotic and invasive pests. 

Kabashima, who retired in 2015 after 28 years of serving the nursery and landscape industry and homeowners in Orange and Los Angeles counties, continues to lead the battle against invasive shot hole borer pests that spread fusarium dieback, threatening trees in Southern California. On Oct. 3, Kabashima gave a presentation at an urban forest summit for public agencies, reviewing current pest concerns relating to trees for San Diego County and what the county needs to do to defend against future invasions.

He has provided testimony for the California Legislature to fund further research into these destructive pests. In January, Kabashima was instrumental in bringing together university scientists, federal and state government representatives, county agricultural commissioners and nonprofit organization leaders for a summit in the state capitol to coordinate their efforts to battle invasive pests.

Kabashima received his bachelor's degree in agricultural biology from Cal Poly Pomona, master's degree in pest management from UC Riverside, an MBA from Pepperdine University and a doctorate in Entomology from UC Riverside.  In 2014, he was inducted into the Green Industry Hall of Fame, and in 2016 he received the Arboriculture Research Award from the Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.

UC Merced chancellor, 4-H’er and VP discuss community outreach with regents

From left, UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland and 4-H member Melina Granados joined VP Humiston to discuss UC ANR impacts with UC regents.

UC VP Glenda Humiston, 4-H member Melina Granados of Riverside County and UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland gave the UC regents a presentation about UC ANR's community outreach and impact. The Public Engagement & Development Committee meeting was held at the UCSF–Mission Bay Conference Center on Jan. 24, 2018, in San Francisco.

Opening the discussion, Humiston gave an overview of ANR, explaining that for 150 years ANR has been bringing the power of UC directly to the people in all California counties. Melina, who was born in Mexico, talked about her role as president of the Eastside Eagles 4-H club and what she has learned. Leland described joint projects between UC Merced and ANR in climate adaptation, nutrition and drone technology research.

Watch the 25-minute recording of the UC ANR presentation to the regents below, or visit https://youtu.be/ptFS8HwlsjE.

Posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 12:37 AM
Focus Area Tags: Economic Development, Environment, Family

AI can help growers more precisely manage their fields, Humiston tells Little Hoover Commission

Glenda Humiston gave testimony on the impacts of artificial intelligence in the agricultural sector to the Little Hoover Commission in Sacramento on Jan. 25.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, can improve precision agriculture by using sensed environmental data to “learn” and continually adapt, VP Glenda Humiston told the Little Hoover Commission at a hearing in Sacramento on Jan. 25.

The Little Hoover Commission is reviewing the impacts of artificial intelligence. While there is no singular definition, artificial intelligence encompasses a broad range of technologies that seek to approximate some aspect of human intelligence or behavior.  

Throughout its study, the commission will consider the potential policy role of California state government in areas such as regulation, workforce development and retraining.

Humiston was asked to give a statement on the impacts of artificial intelligence in the agricultural sector.

“California's working landscapes face some critical challenges; among those are drought, climate change, air quality, soil health, pests, pathogens and invasive species,” she said. “Additionally, rural/urban conflicts and urban sprawl continue to reduce available farm land and make viability of food production more difficult.

“Of importance to today's hearing, California's labor-intensive crops are facing increasing difficulty accessing necessary labor – both skilled and unskilled. This situation has led growers and universities to seek solutions through mechanization, automation and other new technologies.”

She sees opportunities in precision agriculture for growers and ranchers to more precisely manage their operations by using site- and crop-specific data gathered by new technologies.

“Artificial intelligence improves this further by using the sensed environmental data to ‘learn' and continually adapt to ever-changing conditions as it receives data that strengthens the computer's ‘intelligence,'” she said.

Humiston also outlined some of the challenges to harnessing the power of AI for agriculture.

“Artificial intelligence is extremely difficult in agriculture because of the huge amount of variability in environmental conditions across a single field,” she said. “This requires many sensors, complex algorithms, and large real-time data processing – all integrated and working together to inform decisions and actions.”

In a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, the vast majority of the 1,896 experts anticipated that robotics and artificial intelligence will “permeate wide segments of daily life by 2025.” The commission's artificial intelligence project will investigate the shape and speed of these changes in California and in society.

Through its public process, the commission intends to study the key challenges of artificial intelligence in California, its economic implications and how it can be used to solve societal ills. The commission will review issues such as justice, equity, safety and privacy. The project will consider recent studies on workforce impacts, which could include both job creation and job displacement. Possible mitigations and worker protections will be discussed as will examples of efforts to plan and prepare for innovations and labor transformations. 

To read Humiston's full testimony to the Little Hoover Commission, visit http://www.lhc.ca.gov/sites/lhc.ca.gov/files/CurrentStudies/ArtificialIntelligence/WrittenTestimony/HumistonJan2018.pdf.

 

Posted on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 12:20 AM
Focus Area Tags: Innovation

Names in the News

Katie Johnson
Johnson named nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor

Cathryn “Katie” Johnson joined UCCE on Jan. 2, 2018, as an area nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for the Central Sierra Multi-County Partnership serving El Dorado, Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties. The long-time resident of the Sierra foothills is passionate about developing an integrated approach to fighting chronic disease and improving community nutrition in the region.

Prior to joining UCCE, Johnson had been a health educator for the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency, Public Health Division, since January 2017. There, she worked on policy, systems and environmental change strategies, program planning and local evaluation for the SNAP-Ed/NEOP (Nutrition Education & Obesity Prevention) program, and served as the WIC (Women, Infants & Children) regional breastfeeding liaison.

From 2015 to 2016, Johnson held the positions of communication evaluation and development consultant and staff research assistant at the UC Merced Communication, Culture and Health Research Lab. At UC Merced, she contributed to strategic communications and formative evaluation for the CDC-funded PICH (Partnerships to Improve Community Health) project and coordinated community-engaged research on Merced residents' perceptions of health and safety. Previously, Johnson helped to manage small farms in Northern California and New Mexico, growing fruits and vegetables for sale at local markets. Johnson is also an international board-certified lactation consultant and has counseled breastfeeding families.

She earned a master of public health degree (with a concentration in public health nutrition) from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in environmental studies from Wellesley College.

Johnson is based in San Andreas and can be reached at (209) 754-6476 and ckrjohnson@ucanr.edu.

Laurent Ahiablame
Ahiablame joins UCCE San Diego County as director and water advisor

Laurent Ahiablame joined ANR as the UC Cooperative Extension director and water quality and management advisor in San Diego County on Dec. 18, 2017.

Ahiablame's research activities integrate environmental observations and computer modeling supported by ArcGIS to advance understanding of the fate and transport of water and related constituents across various spatial and temporal scales.

Prior to joining UCCE, Ahiablame was an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at South Dakota State University from 2014 to 2017. From 2013 to 2014, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Ahiablame earned a Ph.D. and a M.S. in agricultural and biological engineering from Purdue University and a B.S. in bioenvironmental engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

Ahiablame can be reached at (858) 822-7673 and lmahiablame@ucanr.edu.

Kari Arnold
Arnold named orchard and vineyard systems advisor

Kari Arnold joined UCCE as an area orchard and vineyard systems advisor in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties on Nov. 1, 2017.

Prior to joining UCCE, Arnold was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis, where she participated in a statewide extension and outreach program involving viruses in grapevines and the certification program, collaborated with county viticulture advisors and industry leaders to facilitate grower workgroups for regional management of grapevine viruses, and provided presentations at grower meetings.

As a graduate student researcher from 2011 to October 2016, Arnold participated in individual grower meetings and surveys, facilitated and collaborated with a grower workgroup for areawide disease management in Napa vineyards, and conducted statistical characterization of spatial and temporal patterns of insect-vectored plant viruses. From 2009 to 2011, Arnold also worked as a staff research associate and nursery technician for Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis, where she provided employee training; worked on team oriented projects; provided tours, conducted virus indexing, and collected and analyzed data.

Arnold completed an M.S. and a Ph.D. in plant pathology from UC Davis and a B.S. in horticulture from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.

Based in Modesto, Arnold can be reached at (209) 525-6821and klarnold@ucanr.edu. Follow her on Twitter @KariDigsPlants. 

Farzaneh Khorsandi
Khorsandi named ag safety and health engineer specialist 

Farzaneh Khorsandi Kouhanestani joined UCCE on Sept. 1, 2017, as an assistant agricultural safety and health engineer specialist in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at UC Davis.

Prior to joining UCCE, Khorsandi Kouhanestani worked as research assistant and Ph.D. student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her research is mainly related to agricultural machine design and evaluating the performance of the designed machines both experimentally and theoretically. The designed systems in the Ph.D. project were related to agricultural machinery safety. During her M.S. work, she designed, manufactured and evaluated the performance of a hand-held fruit harvester, a catch frame and a fruit sorter. After completing her M.S., she was a design engineer for an agricultural machinery design company, working on several design projects including a granule spreader, feed cutter and mixer and hay harvester.

Khorsandi Kouhanestani earned a B.S. in mechanics of agricultural machinery engineering in Iran, an M.S. in mechanics of agricultural machinery engineering from Shiraz University, Iran, and a Ph.D. in biosystems engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Khorsandi Kouhanestani is based at UC Davis and can be reached at (530) 752-7848 and fkhorsandi@ucdavis.edu.

Pramod Pandey
Pandey receives state's highest environmental honor 

California Safe Soil and Pramod Pandey, UCCE specialist in UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, were among 13 California organizations that received the state's highest environmental honor, the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), in a ceremony at the California Environmental Protection Agency in Sacramento on Jan. 17.

The award recognizes the public-private partnership and collaborative research among California Safe Soil, the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to recycle organic food waste into fertilizer and feed for agricultural use.

California Safe Soil has a proprietary new technology – enzymatic digestion – to recycle organic biomass. However, they had to prove that recycling food into fertilizer and feed can be done safely, without foodborne pathogens.

California Safe Soil worked with Pandey to conduct pathogen challenge research. Annette Jones and Douglas Hepper at CDFA and Bart Weimer, professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine, and Glenn Young, professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, helped formulate the pathogen challenge test, which provided the scientific results needed to allow CDFA to issue an operating license for the enzymatic digestion.

Pandey's research, which was published in a peer-reviewed journal, proved that California Safe Soil's method for recycling organic food waste into fertilizer and feed is based on robust science and technology.

GEELA recipients are chosen from five categories including climate change, ecosystem and land-use stewardship, environmental education, sustainable practices and waste reduction. 

Trevor Suslow
Suslow honored by Steinbeck Center

Trevor Suslow, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and director of the Postharvest Center, received the 2017 Valley of the World Education Award given by the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. The center established its Valley of the World Awards to honor key figures in the Salinas Valley agricultural industry.

“In the spirit of John Steinbeck's writings, the education award recognizes an individual who through his or her teaching and efforts has inspired and nourished a lifelong love of learning,” the center says on its website.

In presenting the award, the center described Suslow as having “one of the most active extension education and outreach programs” among extension specialists.

“Conservatively, he has provided over 1,500 local, state, national and international technical, extension education, training and outreach presentations on crop protection, soil and phyllosphere microbiology, biotechnology, fresh and fresh-cut produce quality systems, and microbial food safety of fresh produce,” the center wrote.

Soule named one of Top 20 under 40 in SLO

Katherine Soule

The San Luis Obispo Tribune has chosen Katherine Soule, UC Cooperative Extension director and advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, as one of its Top 20 under 40. The Tribune's annual competition recognizes young professionals “who are making significant contributions in the fields of health care, business, law, government and the nonprofit sector. Not only have they demonstrated excellence in their careers, they also have shown a profound commitment to public service.”

In the news article announcing the winners, the newspaper says that Soule has earned state and national recognition for improving community health and increasing diversity in youth participation.

“As the extension's youth, families and communities advisor for the last several years, Soule developed new 4-H programs engaging underserved youths and promoting healthy living, leadership and social development. Her efforts nearly doubled enrollment and boosted Latino participation 26.8 percent. She's delivered nutrition education to more than 10,000 people through various partnerships,” the Tribune wrote.

It goes on to add, “Soule is a founding member of the Cultivating Change Foundation, working to improve inclusivity for the LGBTQ community in agriculture locally and nationwide.”

Federal grant to fund preservation of UCCE history

An ongoing effort to collect, digitally preserve and share 100 years of historical records by the UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) has earned the UC Merced Library a more than $300,000 grant.

“We're extremely proud to be able to further the work already begun on the UCCE project,” UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland said. “Our library is producing a collection that demonstrates the organization's lasting effects on the state, the work it has done in the past and its potential for the future.”

The work is especially relevant to the San Joaquin Valley, said Emily Lin, the UC Merced Library's Head of Digital Curation and Scholarship.

“We have a lot of archives and historic records based around urban centers, but we haven't been collecting the records of rural California in any systematic way,” she said. “But rural California has had an incredible influence on the state's history. California was transformed by agriculture over the past century.”

A four-year pilot archive project began after the UCCE centennial in 2014.

The Archivist of the United States approved the $308,900 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission for “A Century of Impact: Documenting the Work of the Cooperative Extension in California's Counties.” The three-year project will begin in the summer, after Lin and others hire a group of undergraduate students to help with the work. Additionally, the project will be part of an informational booth at the World Ag Expo in February in Tulare — UC Merced's first appearance at the exposition, which draws more than 100,000 people from all over the world.

“We were convinced the history of Cooperative Extension in California was worthy of preserving when we launched the pilot project four years ago,” said Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), the organization that oversees UCCE. “The federal grant to continue this work confirms the value of UCCE history and its contribution to California's prosperity.”

A pilot project, begun after the 2014 centennial of the UCCE, looked at Merced, Ventura and Humboldt counties' UCCE records, and produced a stack of material 70 linear feet long — just for Merced County. A banker box is about 1 linear foot.

Records from Humboldt County included disaster responses from the 1955 and 1964 historic floods, while Merced County's records were mainly about crops, irrigation, the beginnings of the Merced Irrigation District and 4-H. Each county's records provide insight into its unique characteristics, Lin said.

The new project will collect 100 years' worth of reports and historic photographs from 20 California counties — in the Valley, along the coast, up north at the edges of the Sierra and along the southern border — and will geocode all the records.

Part of the archive collection, a vintage photo of a UCCE Merced County vehicle.

“This project is of great potential value in supporting a number of lines of existing research, as well as in opening up new and fruitful areas of inquiry into the interrelated topics of democracy, technology and community,” said David Campbell, a political scientist and the associate dean for social/human sciences in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis. He wrote a letter of support for the project that was included in the application.

The digitization project will help researchers at all levels, Professor Mario Sifuentez said.

“It provides access to a trove of documents that shed light on the nature and development of agriculture in the region, which amazingly has been understudied,” he said. “Despite living in the heart of one of the most productive agricultural regions of the world, few people really understand how agriculture in the Central Valley works. I am invested in producing work and helping students produce work that explains the historical trajectory of how the Valley ended up as ‘The Valley,' and agriculture is the main component of that story.”

The archives set the stage for many research projects across many disciplines. Historians will find the records helpful, but so will people studying progressive era institutions, immigration, race relations, social movements, technological change or the rich history of food and agriculture in California, Campbell said. There are also implications for political science and public policy scholarship; environmental and climate studies around such topics as water and pesticide use; material for economists and labor market scholars; and geographers.

The library is working with the San Joaquin Valley Historical Society, and San Diego State University will also have a set of the records digitized when the project is completed. In addition, regional 4-H students will be part of the project, helping tag and digitize the material.

Cornell University Professor Scott Peters, a historian of higher education who wrote a letter of support for the project, said engaging with local students and their families through a 4-H project is particularly valuable.

“It's always important to help young people connect with the history of their communities,” Peters said. “These historical materials will enrich their understanding of the vision, values, ideals, tensions, dilemmas and struggles that the work of building a democratic culture in partnership with higher education requires and involves. And it helps them understand their own role in history and ask themselves what they are creating and leaving that will be part of history 100 years from now.”

After the 2014 centennial, UC ANR allocated funds to locate a professional archivist at the UC Merced library, which is becoming known for creating comprehensive digital collections of historical materials.

Archivist Lisa Vallen began work with the three pilot counties. She found UCCE records in the National Archives as well as pictures, negatives and documents spread throughout the state.

“Ideally, historical records should be kept in a space that's climate controlled,” Vallen said. “In Ventura, they have some in a container on a farm. That's not ideal at all.”

The ANR hopes this project will help not only researchers, but will educate the public and policy makers about UCCE.

“There's no question about the value of this project and the richness it brings to the whole state, not just UC,” said UC Merced University Librarian Haipeng Li.

Posted on Monday, January 29, 2018 at 8:49 AM
  • Author: Lorena Anderson
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

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