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Posts Tagged: Oct-Nov 2015

UC ANR establishes two endowed chairs in Cooperative Extension

Taking part in the announcement were, from left, Fred Ruiz, UC Regent, Bob Klein, manager of the California Pistachio Research Board; Glenda Humiston, UC ANR vice president; and Tom Coleman, chair of the California Pistachio Research Board.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) has established two $1 million endowments and is now preparing to select the recipients of its first-ever endowed chairs in Cooperative Extension, announced UC ANR vice president Glenda Humiston today (Oct. 29). The endowed chairs will give two scientists a dedicated source of funding for their ongoing agricultural research.

Half the funds for the endowed chairs was provided by UC President Janet Napolitano; the other half was donated by the California Pistachio Research Board. One is the UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for Tree Nut Genetics; the other is the UC Cooperative Extension Presidential Chair for Tree Nut Soil Science and Plant Water Relations.

“The establishment of endowed chairs represents an historic occasion for UC ANR and is something we've never before enjoyed during the 100-years UC ANR Cooperative Extension has served California,” Humiston said. “The pistachio industry's contribution demonstrates its high level of confidence in our research and outreach program, and President Napolitano's match shows her recognition of the work we do not only on campuses but throughout UC ANR.”

UCCE is the applied research and outreach arm of the University of California that serves the agricultural industry, coordinates the 4-H program, supports natural resources stewardship, and provides nutrition education programs throughout the state.

The California Pistachio Research Board has a long history of funding ANR research. Since its establishment in 2007, the program's donations have totaled more than $3 million. Relative to other major California commodities, pistachio production is new. The first commercial crop was produced in 1976. In 2014, farmers harvested 519 million pounds of pistachios, valued at $1.8 billion.

Tom Coleman, a Fresno County pistachio farmer and chair of the Pistachio Research Board, said he enjoys informally comparing notes with other growers, but that doesn't substitute for scientific research.

“I find it absolutely invaluable to have good scientific research to apply on our farms,” Coleman said. “With impending changes in our water situation and a changing climate, research is really our only option.”

In fact, the industry has already felt the impact of climate change on yield. The pistachio growers expect the 2015 yield to be nearly 50 percent lower than the previous year, in large part due to a lack of sufficient winter chilling and water supply cuts, said Bob Klein, manager of the California Pistachio Research Board.

“We know that our future is going to look better with more research as we face the challenges of a warming climate and less water,” Klein said.

Napolitano created the Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs last year for UC campuses and UC ANR to use as an incentive to encourage donors to establish endowed chairs to fund research. Endowed chairs help attract and retain top-flight academics. Once established, endowed chairs provide a dedicated source of funds, in perpetuity, for the chair holder's scholarly activities.

“Donors who endow chairs are helping support the agricultural industry today, and contributing to future growth, innovation and success,” Humiston said. “We hope to establish more endowed chairs in UC Cooperative Extension with the help of our partners.”

Posted on Monday, November 2, 2015 at 4:12 PM
Tags: Glenda Humiston (78), Oct-Nov 2015 (13)

Presentations from Strategic Initiatives Conference now posted online

President Janet Napolitano and VP Glenda Humiston fielded questions from UC ANR members.
Posters, PowerPoints and videos of presentations from the UC ANR Joint Strategic Initiatives Conference in Sacramento are now online.

More than 350 people participated, with the greatest number attending the lunch conversation with President Janet Napolitano and VP Glenda Humiston. Among the topics Napolitano and Humiston discussed was ANR's role in the President's Initiatives, including Global Food, UC-Mexico and Carbon Neutrality.

If you attended the conference and haven't already evaluated the conference, send your comments by completing an anonymous survey. Your input is instrumental in understanding what was done well and what can be improved.

Videos of trainings, PowerPoint presentations and posters have been linked to the conference website:

  • Some of the in-service trainings were recorded. To listen to the speakers deliver their presentations and view their PowerPoints, visit the In-service Trainings website and click on “Video” under each presentation. Not all of the trainings were recorded.
  • PDF files of Tuesday's highlighted presentations PowerPoints have been added online. Click the titles in the online conference agenda (not the PDF) to view the description for each presentation and to open the PDFs.
  • PDFs of posters displayed at both of the receptions are posted. Poster presenters, if you do not see your file, please send it to ANR Program Support so it can be added.
Posted on Monday, November 2, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Three UC students receive UC ANR Global Food Initiative fellowships

From left, Erika Brown, Matthew Shapero and Jay Gelvezon.

Three University of California students will be working with scientists in the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources to study food security, nutrition education and agricultural research and extension.

UC Berkeley graduate students Erika Brown and Matthew Shapero and UC Davis senior Jay Gelvezon will each receive a $4,000 fellowship through the university's Global Food Initiative.

“It is imperative to get students involved in UC ANR's activities to move the world toward food security for all and a more sustainable future,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for Agriculture and Natural Resources. “The fresh ideas that the UC Global Food Initiative fellows contribute will help us extend what we learn through research to improve the health of Californians.”

Brown, a native of San Diego, will work closely with Lorrene Ritchie, director of the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute, on a student food-security research project. In the spring of 2015, nearly 9,000 students from all 10 UC campuses participated in a survey, which was designed to document the prevalence of food insecurity among students and to identify characteristics of students who experience food insecurity. Brown, a public health graduate student at UC Berkeley, will help analyze the survey results to better understand factors contributing to food insecurity and the consequences on students. Since arriving at UC Berkeley, she has worked with several organizations in the Bay Area, including the San Francisco Food Security Taskforce, to identify and eliminate barriers to achieving food security.

Shapero, a native of Santa Barbara, will lead a group of graduate students to organize seminars and workshops for students who are interested in pursuing careers in research and extension in nutrition, youth development, agriculture and natural resources with Cooperative Extension. Shapero's fellowship will also support the UC Berkeley graduate student-led Cooperative Extension Showcase, which brings UC Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists to the Berkeley campus to discuss their work and to network with graduate students. At the showcase this fall, students will have an opportunity to meet potential academic mentors and discuss future collaborative research. Shapero, a range management graduate student, has worked on farms in the Sierra foothills and served two years on the Nevada County Agricultural Advisory Commission and two years on the board of directors for Nevada County Grown.

Gelvezon, a native of Torrance, will work with UC ANR's Strategic Communications team on projects that convey the benefits of UC ANR's food-related research and outreach in communities throughout California. Gelvezon, who is pursuing degrees in both nutrition science and communication, will engage in social media research, photography, video and media outreach projects. The UC Davis senior has served for the past year as a photographer and photo editor for the school's newspaper the California Aggie. He has also worked as a sports nutrition social media intern, creating daily Twitter content, flyers and Instagram posts, and working with UC Davis Athletics to film and edit videos that provide nutrition information for UC Davis athletes.

The University of California aims to put the world on a path to sustainably and nutritiously feed itself. Through its Global Food Initiative, UC is building on existing efforts and creating new collaborations among its 10 campuses, affiliated national laboratories and UC ANR to improve food security, health and sustainability.

To get UC students involved in the Global Food Initiative effort, the UC Office of the President is providing fellowship funds to each UC campus, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC ANR. All of the UC Global Food Initiative fellows systemwide are listed at


Posted on Monday, November 2, 2015 at 3:50 PM

Uhrich named dean of UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

Kathryn Uhrich
UC Riverside Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Paul D'Anieri has appointed Kathryn Uhrich as dean of UCR's College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. She is currently professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers, the land-grant university of New Jersey. She will start Jan. 1.

“Kathryn Uhrich has excelled as an academic administrator, interdisciplinary researcher and inspiring educator. Her multidisciplinary research has spurred new technologies as well as creative collaborations with agricultural and plant researchers,” said D'Anieri. “We are very much looking forward to her arrival at UCR.”

D'Anieri expressed his appreciation for the dedication of interim dean Cynthia Larive, professor of chemistry, and for the effort of the search committee, led by Michael Pazzani, UCR's vice chancellor for research.

Uhrich, a distinguished polymer chemist, served from 2009 through 2013 as dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers. Serving more than 300 faculty in six departments, she developed programs to increase research and teaching collaborations between departments and colleges in the university. Working with the department chairs, she led the modification of the university's promotion process to recognize contributions of academic leadership. Under her leadership, support for research funding and assistance with applications for extramural funding increased along with university investments in new approaches to teaching science.

“UCR's commitment to excellence in interdisciplinary research, inclusion, education, and international engagement strongly aligns with my experience and expertise,” said Uhrich. “The excellence within the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences is well-known by scholars, and it is an honor to join the faculty and leadership team of UC Riverside. I am excited to work with staff and faculty to further academic excellence, as well as with students and alumni who have benefited from UCR's commitment to excellence.”

Both as dean and leading member of the Rutgers faculty, Uhrich worked with the university leadership and state legislators to initiate the construction and design of a new chemistry/science building to expand both the research and teaching capacity of the faculty. Previously, as graduate program director in the chemistry and chemical biology department, Uhrich worked to diversify the graduate program to include more women and people of color. Working with alumni, she raised funding to create new fellowships to support graduate students.

Uhrich's research links chemistry with the life sciences and engineering disciplines to create new materials and design new devices in which polymers can be used to increase health and extend life. Widely recognized as a leading innovator in polymer research, Uhrich's research focuses on designing bioactive, biodegradable polymers for use in drug delivery, food safety and personal care. She has been issued more than 70 U.S. and international patents, and her work has spawned several start-up companies, including Polymerix Corporation, which created biodegradable delivery systems for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and coatings for surgical implants.

Uhrich has authored more than 140 peer-reviewed papers. She has also collaborated extensively with colleagues in this country and overseas, and worked in close partnership with companies such as Chanel, DuPont, Exxon Mobil, Johnson & Johnson and Merck.

Uhrich earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Cornell University, and her B.S. in chemistry, with honors, from the University of North Dakota.

In her work at Rutgers, she has been a champion of enhanced STEM education for women and people of color. As dean, Uhrich worked with departments and the University to ensure inclusive practices for faculty – from faculty hiring, to faculty promotion and recognition. As a board member of the Rutgers' Office for the Promotion of Women, Science, Engineering and Mathematics, Uhrich worked to foster supportive environments for students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds. As a researcher, Uhrich's interest in mentoring the next generation of scientists is reflected by the composition and size of her research team: she has supervised 60 Ph.D. students from four departments and more than 80 undergraduate students.

Uhrich's professional experience includes stints as a visiting professor at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the University of New South Wales, Australia. Her research lab has hosted dozens of visiting scientists from across the globe including Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Netherlands, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Scotland, and Turkey. Through various roles, Uhrich champions institutional support for international research at Rutgers. She was a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and also worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories and at Eastman Kodak.

In addition to her status as a fellow of the American Chemical Society, she is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Bioactive and Compatible Polymers and a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Members of the search committee were

  • Michael Pazzani, Vice Chancellor, Research and Economic Development (Chair)
  • Ward Beyermann, Associate Professor, Physics
  • Anupama Dahanukar, Assistant Professor, Entomology
  • Jay Gan, Professor, Environmental Sciences
  • Cheryl Gerry, Financial and Administrative Officer, CNAS
  • Mikeal Roose, Chair and Professor, Botany and Plant Sciences
  • Frances Sladek, Professor, Cell Biology
  • Glenn Stanley, Professor, Psychology
  • Sue Wessler, Distinguished Professor, Botany and Plant Sciences
  • Preston Williams, President of the Graduate Student Association
  • Jose Wudka, Professor, Physics and Astronomy
  • Francisco Zaera, Distinguished Professor, Chemistry


Posted on Monday, November 2, 2015 at 3:31 PM

Names in the News

Jairo Diaz-Ramirez
Diaz-Ramirez joins ANR as Desert REC director

Jairo Diaz-Ramirez joined ANR on Oct. 1 as the director of the Desert Research and Extension Center.

Prior to joining ANR, Diaz-Ramirez was an assistant professor at Alcorn State University and director of the Mississippi River Research Center – Center for Ecology and Natural Resources. He oversaw the creation and execution of the center's strategic plan for research, education, public outreach and potential industrial activities. Diaz-Ramirez was program leader for the Environmental Science program and taught undergraduate and graduate courses. From 2009 to 2012, Diaz-Ramirez was assistant research professor at Mississippi State University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where he served as co-principal investigator, co-developed the Low Impact Development Implementation Assessment Tool – LIDIA, and taught undergraduate and graduate courses.

Diaz-Ramirez earned his Ph.D. at Mississippi State University and M.S. at University of Puerto Rico, both in civil engineering with specialization in water resources. He earned his B.S. in agricultural engineering, with a focus in soil and water conservation, from National University of Colombia and is fluent in Spanish.

Based in Holtville, Diaz-Ramirez can be reached at (760) 356-3065 and

Mark Lundy
Lundy named UCCE specialist

Mark Lundy has become a UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist for grain cropping systems as of Oct. 1. He joined UCCE in 2013 as the agronomy advisor in Colusa, Sutter and Yuba counties and focused his research and extension on forage crops, wheat, safflower, processing tomatoes, dry beans, corn and hybrid seed crops. Before joining ANR, he served as an extension educator for the HortCRSP Trellis Program, working with fresh market tomato growers in southern Malawi.

Lundy earned a B.A. in English from the University of Arizona. He has an M.S. in international agricultural development and Ph.D. in agronomy from UC Davis.

Based in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, Lundy can be reached at (530) 458-0575 and

Clark named cropping systems advisor

Nicholas Clark
Nicholas Clark has become a UCCE area agronomic cropping systems/nutrient management advisor as of Oct. 26. He will be serving Kings, Tulare and Fresno counties.Clark joined UCCE in 2014 as a laboratory assistant in Tulare County, then was appointed staff research associate on March 13, 2015, in Tulare County. 

As an ANR staff research associate, Clark assisted in a breeding program for fusarium wilt-resistant cotton. He worked with local growers, USDA-Agricultural Research Service and international stakeholders on field trials in Shafter, Bakersfield, Tipton and Parlier over two growing seasons. He organized and conducted full greenhouse operations, including seed-to-seed production of novel Pima, Upland and interspecific cotton germplasms and breeding families.

Prior to joining ANR, Clark was a biological science technician for USDA-ARS from 2012 to 2014, where he designed a greenhouse, plant growth chamber, bacteriological and DNA sequence experiments; statistically analyzed research results; and maintained greenhouse tomato nutrition, pest control and irrigation.

Clark completed an M.S. in plant science from California State University, Fresno, and a B.A. in cultural anthropology from UC Santa Cruz. He speaks Spanish.

Based in Hanford, Clark can be reached at (559) 852-2788 and

Lang joins Central Sierra as NFCS advisor

Kara Lang joined UC ANR on Sept. 8 as a UCCE nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor serving the Central Sierra Multi-County Partnership.

Prior to joining UCCE, Lang was serving in concurrent positions. For Fresno State University's Department of Food Science and Nutrition, she was an adjunct professor educating undergraduate, graduate students and dietetic interns developing nutrition and food science research projects.  For UC Davis California Institute for Rural Studies, Lang coordinated research activities for a USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Local Food Promotion Program in Merced County, where she designed and implemented clinical and community-based nutrition research projects, secured funding to support research initiatives, and managed research teams. For the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program, Lang was a program evaluation specialist serving as lead evaluator of nutrition education, community nutrition and food systems projects. She has experience working on state-level food policy issues as a member of the California Food Policy Council and with the California Farmers Market Consortium.

Lang completed a Ph.D. in nutritional biology and a M.S. in nutrition at UC Davis, where she conducted clinical research at the USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center. Lang earned a B.S. in nutritional physiology and metabolism from UC Berkeley. She is currently working towards certification as a registered dietitian with an anticipated completion date of 2016.

Based in San Andreas, Lang can be reached at (209) 754-6476 and

Ira joins California Naturalist

Greg Ira
Greg Ira joined ANR on Oct. 1 as an academic coordinator for the California Naturalist statewide program.Ira is involved in the planning, management and operations of the program and its many partnerships.

Ira completed a M.A. in Asian studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a B.A. in environmental studies from Prescott College in Arizona.

Prior to joining ANR, Ira worked for the State of Florida Department of Environmental Protection from 2000 to 2015. His initial focus was on environmental education and he established three statewide programs: Learning in Florida's Environment Program, Florida Green School Network and Awards, and the Science, Technology and Environment teacher professional development program. In 2014, when the Sustainable Initiatives program merged with environmental education, Ira assumed oversight of three additional statewide programs: Florida Green Lodging Program, Florida Clean Vessel Act Grants, and Florida Clean Marina Program. From 1992 to 1998, he worked for the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction in the Philippines as an environmental specialist, program manager and program director for the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture program. This work involved training, the production of extension materials, and collaborative field projects with local non-governmental organizations in Asia and parts of East Africa.

Based at the ANR Building in Davis, Ira can be reached at (530) 750-1265 and

Posted on Monday, November 2, 2015 at 3:00 PM

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