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Posts Tagged: Mehdi Nemati

Names in the News

Sidhu named UCCE vegetable crops advisor for Kern County

Jaspreet Sidhu

Jaspreet Sidhu joined UCCE on Sept. 4, 2018, as the vegetable crops advisor for Kern County.

Sidhu earned a Ph.D. in entomology from Louisiana State University and a M.S. in entomology and a B.S. in plant protection from Punjab Agricultural University, India.

Prior to joining UCCE, Sidhu was a research scientist at Virginia Tech (2016–2018). There, she coordinated and managed different projects funded by USAID in partner countries and provided assistance and expertise for the development of various components of IPM packages for tropical vegetables, fruits and other crops. At Louisiana State University, Sidhu was a research associate working on pest management in vegetable crops, focusing on efficacy trials, maintenance of field and greenhouse experimental trials and data collection and presentation (2014–2016). As a postdoctoral associate, she focused on stem borer management in rice in Louisiana. (2013–2014).

In addition to English, she is fluent in Punjabi and Hindi.

Sidhu is based in Bakersfield and can be reached at (661) 822-6222 and jaksidhu@ucanr.edu.

Diekmann named UCCE urban ag and food systems advisor

Lucy Diekmann

Lucy Diekmann joined UCCE on Aug. 20, 2018, as the area urban agriculture and food systems advisor for Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

Diekmann earned a Ph.D. in environmental science, policy and management from UC Berkeley, a M.S. in environmental sciences from University of Virginia, and a B.A. in history from Brown University.

Prior to joining UCCE, Diekmann was a USDA-NIFA postdoctoral fellow and academic year lecturer in the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Santa Clara University. In these roles, she studied the impacts of and barriers to urban agriculture in Santa Clara County, conducting research in collaboration with community partners. She also coordinated a working group on equity in the food system as part of an eXtension Community of Practice. From 2011 to 2014, Diekmann worked as a consultant for Smart Growth California, where she provided outreach materials about land use, transportation and housing policies to a network of funders dedicated to building sustainable communities in California. Her dissertation research examined the social and cultural impacts of ecological restoration on an American Indian community in Humboldt and Del Norte counties. 

Diekmann is based in San Jose and can be reached at (408) 282-3104 and lodiekmann@ucanr.edu.

Salinger to lead ANR Food Entrepreneurship

Zac Salinger

Zachary Salinger joined ANR on Aug. 15, 2018, as the food entrepreneurship academic coordinator under the UC Master Food Preserver program.

Prior to joining ANR, Salinger was working as CEO/founder of Basil (2016 to 2018), an off-the-grid vertical farm company in New Orleans. Basil's vertical farm model utilized 95 percent less water than traditional non-recirculating methods, no pesticides and an automated water system. He produced cherry tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and squash for residents in food deserts. To complete this model, he established partnerships with energy, architecture and farming industries. In 2017, his venture won funding from the prestigious NewDay Award, through the Changemaker Institute Accelerator at the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation at Tulane University.

Salinger completed an MPH in nutrition and food security from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a B.A. in psychology from UCLA. 

Salinger is based at the ANR building at 2801 Second St. in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1245 and zlsalinger@ucanr.edu.

Gunn named 4-H advisor in San Mateo and San Francisco counties

Maggie La Rochelle Gunn

Maggie La Rochelle Gunn joined UCCE on Aug. 6, 2018, as a 4-H Youth Development advisor in San Mateo and San Francisco counties. 

Prior to joining UCCE, Gunn managed Putah Creek Café Garden in Winters from 2016 to 2018. She also owned a business that provided gardening services, mentorship and educational workshops on sustainable gardening and farming topics to local businesses and residents. Gunn's Ph.D. dissertation, titled Portrait of a Learning Farm: Re-rooting Selves, Natures and Relationships, was an ethnography of learning relationships at the UC Davis Student Farm. She examined learning motivations in the experiences of student farmers, socio-spatial relationships, education and production dynamics, critical social issues that bear on learning relationships and institutional dynamics of program management. Gunn's master's thesis, An Analysis of Youth Poems from the River of Words: Exploring Environmental Identity, Education, and Youth Development, was a thematic content analysis of over 700 poems written by young people in the U.S. for the River of Words Poetry Contest. This was a study of youth attitudes toward community and place, yielding insights about constructive learning models and the impacts of negative public discourse around young people and the environment.

Gunn earned her Ph.D. in geography and a M.S. in community and regional development from UC Davis, with emphases in community education and farm and garden-based learning. She earned a B.A. in English literature from UC San Diego.

Gunn is based at Elkus Ranch in Half Moon Bay and can be reached at (650) 276-7424 and mlgunn@ucanr.edu.

Vega named 4-H advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties

Liliana Vega

Liliana Vega joined UCCE on July 10, 2018, as a 4-H Youth Development advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.

Prior to joining UCCE, Vega had been an extension educator at University of Idaho since 2008 and associate extension professor since 2012. In this role, she determined and assessed the needs of area youth, focusing on youth from underserved and minority audiences; developed relationships with other educational institutions, agencies and organizations; identified and prioritized educational needs; planned, developed, coordinated, implemented and evaluated educational programs. She provided leadership in delivering 4-H youth education, disseminated program results through publications and presentations and managed grants and budgets. From 2008 to 2011, Vega was an instructor with responsibilities for 4-H youth development educational programming, afterschool programs, community outreach, volunteer development, volunteer and staff supervision, providing educational opportunities and information to Latino families and networking and partnering with community organizations and institutions.

Vega completed a M.S. in education, adult/organizational learning and leadership from University of Idaho and a B.A. in multi-ethnic studies (minor in Mexican American Studies) from Boise State University.

Vega is based in San Luis Obispo and can be reached at (805) 781-4188 and live@ucanr.edu.

Nemati named UCCE specialist in water resource economics and policy

Mehdi Nemati

Mehdi Nemati joined UCCE on July 1, 2018, as an assistant specialist in water resource economics and policy in the School of Public Policy at UC Riverside. Nemati's role is to provide leadership throughout the state to develop mission-oriented research programs among colleagues and universities. He facilitates teamwork among government agencies, stakeholder groups and private industry with a focus on promoting sustainable and cost-effective strategies for addressing water-related issues, such as water scarcity/drought. His policy-oriented research and extension program focuses on economic issues associated with urban/municipal water use and water conservation programs, including alternative pricing structures (e.g., budget-based tiered rates and drought pricing), and rebate programs (e.g., turf grass removal); direct and indirect potable water reuse; design of enforcement and monitoring strategies; incentives for the adoption of conservation practices and technologies. He is fluent in Farsi as well as English.

Prior to joining UCCE, Nemati was a graduate research assistant and teaching assistant at University of Kentucky from 2013 to 2018. Nemati's Ph.D. dissertation, Essays on Environmental Economics and Policy, examined various water policies, including 2015 drought mandate, and urban water conservation technologies effectiveness in water use reduction. In addition to research, he has experience explaining critical economic and data-driven concepts to a lay audience. He is the lead author of white papers for Dropcountr company. These non-technical summaries of his research were prepared for Dropcountr management and subsequently shared with government representatives and utility providers.

Nemati received his Ph.D. in agricultural economics and M.S. in economics at the University of Kentucky. He also earned an M.S. in agricultural economics at the University of Tehran, and his B.S. in agricultural economics at the University of Kurdistan.

Read more about Nemati's research at his website http://mnemati.com. Follow him on Twitter at @mnematie. He can be reached at (951) 827-9368 and mehdi.nemati@ucr.edu.

Wang joins UCCE as specialist in small-scale fruit and vegetable processing

Selina Wang

Selina Wang joined UCCE on July 1, 2018, as an assistant specialist in small-scale fruit and vegetable processing in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis. Wang's research program focuses on chemical quality, purity and nutrition parameters that occur during fruit and vegetable postharvest, processing and storage. Wang is also the research director of UC Davis Olive Center, leading collaborative projects with the university and industry and helping to find practical solutions to push the forefront of olive research and education. She is fluent in Mandarin as well as English.

Wang's postdoctoral project on evaluating the quality of extra virgin olive oil in supermarkets received worldwide attention in 2010 and 2011. Wang has been the research director of UC Davis Olive Center since 2012, developing more than 150 applied research projects in table olives and olive oil - including domestic/international standards, chemical method developments for rapid testing of quality and purity, best practices for harvesting/processing/storage, to byproduct management and health benefits. 

Wang earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at UC Davis and a B.S. in chemistry at UC Santa Cruz.

Learn more about her research at https://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu, https://www.facebook.com/UCDavis.OliveCenter, http://www.selinawang.com/and https://www.instagram.com/selinawang_ce.

Wang can be reached at (530) 752-5018 and scwang@ucdavis.edu.

Crowder joins Communication Services

Lucien Crowder

Lucien Crowder joined Communication Services and Information Technology in August as a senior writer and editor. He will write news articles, assist in writing opinion articles, edit a range of scientific and technical publications and manage publishing and production tasks for the peer-reviewed journal California Agriculture and the Publishing and Production group's other publications.

From 2012 until joining UC ANR, Crowder was senior editor at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a publication focused on technology-based threats to human civilization. For five years before joining the Bulletin, he was associate editor at Current History, a journal of contemporary international affairs. Previously, while living in Taiwan, he was a reporter for a business magazine and an editor at a daily newspaper. He holds a bachelor's degree in English language and literature from the University of Chicago.           

Crowder is based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1219 or lccrowder@ucanr.edu.

Mutters honored by rice industry

From left, California Rice Research Foundation Chairman Gary Enos, Bruce Linquist, Cass Mutters and Rice Experiment Director Kent McKenzie.

Randall “Cass” Mutters, UCCE advisor emeritus, received the California Rice Industry Award, which is sponsored by the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation.

Mutters, who worked as a UC Cooperative Extension rice farming systems advisor in Butte County from 1994 until his retirement in 2017, was introduced by UCCE specialist Bruce Linquist.

“As an advisor, Cass conducted an applied research and outreach program directed towards rice growers, pest control advisers, and other rice industry stakeholders,” Linquist said. “Cass' work has been visionary and transformative. Through his efforts, he has helped the California rice industry adapt to new challenges, and remain viable and competitive. He is recognized nationally and internationally as a rice research and extension expert.” 

Linquist named a few of Mutters' career achievements.

“Cass developed the Leaf Color Chart to determine mid-season rice nitrogen needs. This has been adopted not only in California but also in many other rice production areas of the world,” Linquist said. “He quantified the effects of cold water on rice growth and yield, providing the California rice industry information needed to mitigate cold water damage. He developed guidelines to drain fields in preparation for harvest that allow growers to save water while maintaining yield and grain quality. In collaboration with the Rice Experiment Station breeders, Cass refined harvesting guidelines for new rice varieties, allowing growers more harvest flexibility and reduced drying costs. He is co-author of the Rice Quality Handbook, the most important publication in California dealing with post-harvest management of rice and used widely by rice storage managers. He was also part of the team that developed the first agricultural carbon offset protocol, approved by environmental groups and regulatory agencies in the U.S.” 

In addition, Mutters has collaborated with others to test new California rice varieties, develop nitrogen management guidelines, refine rice water use estimates, and develop strategies to manage herbicide resistant weeds.

As part of his outreach program, Mutters developed the Rice Quality and Rice Production Workshops, which have trained more than 1,000 growers and other rice industry representatives.

Mutters also served the rice industry by participating in many committees of state and national significance, such as the Rice Certification Act, California Air Resources Board Technical Advisory Committee, and the Rice Technical Working Group Executive Committee. Earlier this year, he was recognized for his service to the rice industry with the 2018 Rice Technical Working Group Distinguished Service Award.

Mutters was presented with the rice industry award on Aug 29, 2018, at the annual rice research meeting. The award is given annually to recognize and honor individuals from any segment of the rice industry who have made outstanding and distinguished contributions to the California rice industry. Recipients of the award are nominated and selected by a committee of rice growers and others appointed by the CCRRF Board of Directors. 

Downer honored by International Society of Arboriculture

Paul Ries, left, and Jim Downer.

A. James Downer, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Ventura County, received the 2018 International Society of Arboriculture's (ISA) R.W Harris Author's Citation Award. This award of distinction is given to authors who consistently publish timely and valuable content related to the field of arboriculture.

Click here for a video on A. James Downer. (https://youtu.be/8bBgpA09FZ4)

Downer, who holds a Ph.D. in plant pathology, also teaches classes in arboriculture and plant pathology at California Polytechnic State University in Pomona. Presenting at conferences around the globe, he has managed active research that has resulted in over 50 peer-reviewed articles. 

“Dr. Downer is a dedicated teacher of the pathology of landscape ornamentals, horticulture, and arboriculture, translating his research into practical outputs,” says Paul Ries, ISA board president. “He has spent over 30 years speaking at conferences not only in his chapter region but internationally as well.”

Downer was recognized during the opening ceremony of the ISA Annual International Conference and Trade Show on Aug. 5 in Columbus, Ohio.

CalNat wins evaluation award 

From left, Marisa Rodriguez, an ANROSP board member, Sarah Angulo and Sabrina Drill.

The UC California Naturalist Program was honored by the Alliance of Natural Resource Outreach and Service Programs (ANROSP) for their work developing a comprehensive program evaluation and performance management system.

Program evaluation for the UC California Naturalist program has evolved over the last five years and matured into a comprehensive and functional system that provides the CalNat program team with useful information for assessing performance, setting priorities, refining practices and allocating resources.

All of the practices (except the Five-Year Program Review and the Needs Assessment) are conducted annually, allowing for comparisons from year to year. Each practice includes a separate data collection instrument to evaluate the instructors, courses and volunteer service effort and process for reporting integration into planning and operations.

California Naturalist Evaluation and Performance Management System.
The core elements of the program evaluation system fall into four buckets:

  1. Data collection, including needs assessment, post course evaluation and site audit survey
  2. Data analysis, reporting and communication, including a course evaluation report, a partner scorecard and a site audit summary
  3. Planning and adaptive management, including an annual plan, strategic plan and business plan
  4. Integration into operations, including revising standard operating procedures, and business process improvements.

These elements together serve as the foundation for the current program evaluation and performance management system for the CalNat program.

Sabrina Drill, UC California Naturalist Program associate director and UCCE natural resources advisor for Los Angeles and Ventura counties, and community education specialists Marisa Rodriguez and Sarah Angulo accepted the award Sept. 12 at the annual ANROSP meeting in New Orleans.

ANR reaches out to donors on #GivingTuesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UC Research to Policy Conference puts science into action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Names in the News

Rebecca Ozeran
Ozeran named UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor

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

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

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

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

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

Axelson joins UCCE as forest health specialist

Jodi Axelson

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

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

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

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

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

Haghverdi joins UCCE as urban water specialist

Amir Haghverdi

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

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

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

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

Saitone named ag economics specialist

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

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

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

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

Bautista named 4-H STEM coordinator

Jessica Bautista

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

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

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

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

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

Pourreza wins international prize for HLB detection

Ali Pourreza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4-H Youth Development team wins national diversity award

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

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

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

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

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

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

UC students assist ANR’s Global Food Initiative efforts

Gemma DiMatteo
For the 2016-17 year, ANR has selected five UC students as Global Food Initiative fellows: UC Berkeley graduate students Gemma DiMatteo, Reid Johnsen, Alana Siegner and Laura Ward and UC Davis graduate student Mingxuan (Elaine) Liu. The GFI fellows will work with ANR academics and staff to address the issue of how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population expected to reach 8 billion by 2025.

DiMatteo, a UC Berkeley graduate student in the School of Public Health, is working closely with Lorrene Ritchie, Nutrition Policy Institute director. DiMatteo will help analyze data on the foods provided to young children in early care and education settings to help inform policies related to healthful eating in this age group. She will also work on the evaluation of newly developed nutrition standards being piloted in family child care homes.

Elaine Liu
Liu, a UC Davis graduate student in communications, is working with ANR's Strategic Communications unit to produce materials for nutrition outreach. For one project, she will work with Marisa Neelon, UC Cooperative Extension nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor in Contra Costa County, to develop a series of “Money Talks” nutrition-education fact sheets for teachers.

Reid Johnsen
UC Berkeley Ph.D. candidates Johnsen and Ward and UC Berkeley graduate student Siegner, are participating in the Graduate Students in Extension pilot program, sponsored by UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources and ANR. For students interested in careers in Cooperative Extension, they will organize seminars, workshops and training opportunities to improve graduate student preparedness for extension, outreach and applied research. The fellows will conduct an assessment to document best practices and lessons learned from the GSE program, which is in the last year of its three-year pilot. To share the outcomes and accomplishments of the GSE program, they will also develop a publication, policy recommendations and coordinate a complementary seminar.

Alana Siegner
The class – the third since UC President Janet Napolitano launched the Global Food Initiative Student Fellowship Program – has participants from all 10 UC campuses plus Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and ANR.

Laura Ward
In addition to their individual projects, the students are invited to participate in systemwide activities designed to enhance their leadership skills and enrich their understanding of the food system in California. In January, UCOP will provide leadership training for the GFI fellows. In April, the group will take a field trip to the Central Valley to learn about UC Cooperative Extension projects.

For more information about the UC Global Food Initiative student fellows, read the article at http://universityofcalifornia.edu/news/student-fellows-help-shape-future-food.

UC World Food Day Video Challenge

To raise awareness of the depth and breadth of food-related research and outreach being performed across the UC system, the Nutrition Policy Institute partnered with the World Food Institute at UC Davis to sponsor the UC World Food Day Video Challenge. Students from all UC campuses were invited to submit videos up to three minutes long that featured UC research. UC Davis students Carlos Orozco-Gonzalez and Umayr Sufi won with a video about advancing the science behind drying and storing food to improve food safety in developing countries.

“We are wasting a lot of food, regardless of where we are in the world,” said Irwin Donis-Gonzalez, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering at UC Davis, who is featured in the video. “With Carlos and Umayr, we are combining biological and engineering sensing concepts that can be applied to solving world issues.”

The winning team received $1,000 and a trip to attend the Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium in Des Moines.

To view the top five videos, visit http://worldfoodcenter.ucdavis.edu/nutrition/uc-davis-teams-awarded-top-prizes.html.

Umayr Sufi, Irwin Donis-Gonzalez and Carlos Orozco-Gonzalez. Photo by Karin Higgins/UC Davis

Higher education collaborates to fight student food insecurity

Representatives of the University of California, California State University and California Community College systems met in Fresno on Sept. 6 to discuss food access and basic needs security for students.

As part of UC's Global Food Initiative, the Nutrition Policy Institute recently published a report based on a survey of food security among UC students at all 10 campuses. The “Student Food Access and Security Study” includes the survey results and UC's plans for addressing food security issues. CSU is currently conducting a systemwide survey of its student population and CCC is planning to conduct a survey of its students. UC was represented by Ruben Canedo of UC Berkeley, Tim Galarneu of UC Santa Cruz, and NPI's Ritchie and Suzanna Martinez.

After CSU and CCC complete their surveys, the group will meet again in December to discuss best practices to ensure food security in California public higher education.

ANR cohosts food drive

In recognition of World Food Day, National Food Dayand the UC Global Food Initiative, ANR, UCOP Staff Assembly and UCOP Professional Community have partnered with the Alameda County Community Food Bank to help feed the hungry. From Oct. 17 to 31, we are collecting food items in bins located near the elevators on each floor of UCOP's Franklin building, and on UCOP floors at the Kaiser, Broadway and 20th St. buildings in Oakland.

There are two ways you can participate:

  • Donate non-perishable food items to the bin located near the elevators on the 10th floor of the Franklin building
  • Donate online via the ACCFB Virtual Food Drive website set up for UCOP at
    www.vfd-accfb.orgSelect “UCOP” in the dropdown menu on the right side of the page and choose "10th floor Franklin building.

Donations will be collected and counted at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 31. The floor that collects the most donations will win a $100 gift basket from the Oakland Farmers Market.

For more information, contact Suzanna Martinez, Nutrition Policy Institute, at suzanna.martinez@ucop.edu

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