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Names in the News

Spinelli named UCCE horticulture advisor

Gerry Spinelli

Gerardo Spinelli joined UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego County as a production horticulture advisor on Oct. 12, 2020. He will work with nurseries, floriculture and controlled environment plant production.

Prior to joining UCCE San Diego, Spinelli worked for the Resource Conservation District of Santa Cruz county since 2015 in irrigation and nitrogen management for strawberry and lettuce. He collaborated with Michael Cahn, UCCE advisor and technical expert for the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency's conservation program, to promote the adoption of CropManage to optimize nitrogen and irrigation in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.

He has also worked on nutrient and pest management in vegetables, lettuce hydroponic production and anaerobic soil disinfestation in banana at University of Hawaii, Manoa, and was a UCCE farm advisor for irrigation and vegetables in Stanislaus County. He also worked in Honduras on an irrigation development project providing technical assistance for smallholder corn and watermelon growers, and in London designing and installing landscape irrigation systems. He also lived in Lebanon, where he introduced integrated pest management in apple and olive production, rebuilt irrigation channels for tobacco and vegetable growers, began a queen bee breeding program and built sewage lines for the Wavel refugee camp.

Spinelli grew up in Italy on an olive and vegetable farm on the hills overlooking Florence and is fluent in Italian, English, French and Spanish.

He earned a B.S. in agronomy, an M.S. in tropical agriculture at the University of Florence, and a Master of International Agricultural Development and Ph.D. in horticulture and agronomy at UC Davis, focusing on plant physiology and water stress in almond orchards.  

Spinelli is based in San Diego and can be reached at (858) 822-7679 and gspinelli@ucanr.edu.

Amaral named pomology, water and soils advisor

Doug Amaral

Douglas Amaral joined UCCE in Kings and Tulare as pomology, water and soils advisor on Oct. 1, 2020.

Before joining UCCE, Amaral was a project scientist and postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. His research has focused on the physiology and biochemistry of plant nutrient uptake, and molecular and genetic aspects of nutrient acquisition and tolerance in citrus, almonds, pistachios and other crops.

Amaral, who was born and raised in Brazil, is fluent in Portuguese and English. He earned a Ph.D. in plant and soil sciences at the University of Delaware, an M.S. in plant nutrition and soil fertility at Federal University of Lavras, Brazil, and a B.S. in biological sciences at University Center of Lavras, Brazil.

Amaral is based in Hanford and can be reached at (559) 852-2737 and amaral@ucanr.edu.

UCCE poster, newsletters win NACAA awards

Michael Rethwisch and Kassandra Allan won a national NACAA award for their applied research poster, “Dingy cutworm pheromone lures are not highly attractive to the closely related granulate cutworm.”

Three California state winning entries received national recognition at the recent annual meeting and professional improvement conferences of the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) held virtually in late September and early October.

Michael Rethwisch, UCCE field crops advisor for Riverside County, and student assistant Kassandra Allan won a national NACAA award for their applied research poster, “Dingy cutworm pheromone lures are not highly attractive to the closely related granulate cutworm.” Rethwisch was also selected to give a presentation on comparative insecticide efficacy for lygus bug control.

The UC Dairy Newsletter was a national finalist entry and western regional winner in the Team Newsletter competition. UCCE advisors Jennifer Heguy, Daniela Bruno, Joy Hollingsworth and Betsy Karle collaborate on the newsletter.

The University of California Cooperative Extension Subtropical Horticulture News by Sonia Rios, UCCE subtropical horticulture advisor for Riverside and San Diego counties, was the western regional winner for individual newsletter.  

CAPCA honors Wilen for "Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture" 

Cheryl Wilen

Cheryl Wilen, UCCE integrated pest management advisor emeritus for San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties, received the 2020 Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture award by the California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA).

The Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture award recognizes individuals or organizations that have made a significant contribution to California agriculture. The former leader of UC ANR's Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases Strategic Initiative is known for her research and development of integrated pest management strategies for the turf, ornamental horticulture and nursery industries. Over the course of her career, Wilen has helped reduce the use of toxic pesticides, cut the cost of pest control and promote the use of environmentally sound methods in production.

Wilen, who retired from her 25-year UC ANR career in July, received the award during CAPCA's virtual annual conference on Oct. 12. She is currently on recall to serve as interim director for UCCE in San Diego.

4-H Youth Retention Study Team receives national award

The 4-H Youth Retention Study Team also received ANR's Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Research in 2018.

The 4-H Youth Retention Study Team received the National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Professionals' “Susan Barkman Award for Research and Evaluation” Oct. 20, during the association's virtual conference.

The Youth Retention Study examined the retention and drop-out rates (nearly 50%) of first year 4-H members over a seven-year period to understand why youth leave the 4-H program. They found a lack of communication and the inability to understand and navigate the 4-H program contributed to attrition. These findings led to development of a handbook for families to navigate the 4-H program and a Project Leader Checklist for implementing the 4-H project experience. 

While the study focused on California, the team has engaged multiple states in an effort to document the national scope of this issue, and used the data to develop tools and strategies for addressing and extending that information through peer-reviewed articles, workshops and training.

The Youth Retention Study Team includes

  • JoLynn Miller, UCCE advisor for the Central Sierra
  • Kendra Lewis, University of New Hampshire State Specialist for Youth & Family Resiliency and former UCCE academic coordinator for evaluation for UC ANR Statewide 4-H Youth Development Program
  • Marianne Bird, UCCE advisor for the Capital Corridor
  • John Borba, UCCE advisor in Kern County
  • Claudia Diaz-Carrasco, UCCE advisor for Riverside and San Bernardino counties
  • Dorina Espinoza, UCCE advisor for Humboldt and Del Norte counties
  • Russell Hill, UCCE advisor for Merced, Mariposa and Madera counties
  • Car Mun Kok, UCCE advisor for Lake and Mendocino counties
  • Sue Manglallan, UCCE advisor emeritus in San Diego County
  • Kali Trzesniewski, UCCE specialist in UC Davis Department of Human & Community Development

Ronald becomes first woman to receive World Agriculture Prize

Pam Ronald, a UC Davis distinguished professor, whose work has revolutionized plant molecular genetics, has become the first woman to receive the World Agriculture Prize.

Ronald is recognized for her history of major discoveries in plant molecular genetics. In 1995, she isolated a key immune receptor that revealed a new mechanism with which plants and animals detect and respond to infection. Her discovery in 2006, with UC Davis plant scientist David Mackill, of a rice submergence tolerance gene facilitated the development of high-yielding, flood-tolerant rice varieties that have benefited millions of farmers in South and Southeast Asia.

The award ceremony will be virtually held at 5 p.m. on Nov. 30 from Nanjing Agricultural University, Jiangsu Province, China.

Read the full story by Amy Quinton at https://caes.ucdavis.edu/news/plant-pathologist-pamela-ronald-named-gchera-world-agriculture-prize-laureate.

UC ANR learns about Latino struggles and achievements during Hispanic Heritage Month

UC ANR is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Each Friday during the celebration, Ricardo Vela, manager of News & Information Outreach in Spanish, is hosting online forums.

“I think this is an excellent opportunity for all of us at UCANR to educate ourselves about ethnic groups,” Vela said. “Learning about the struggles of the Latino community is to learn about the history of our country. The knowledge becomes critical for serving all Californians since Latinos are part of every layer of our society.”

Oct. 2, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Vela will discuss the Chicano Moratorium of 1970 with Isidro D. Ortiz, Ph.D., professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at San Diego State University, and Christian Ramirez, director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition and human rights director of Alliance San Diego

Oct. 9, from 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m., two journalists from Univision and a farm worker's human rights activist share their experiences with the pandemic, the impact of COVID-19 in the Hispanic community, and why they think Latinos have been hit hard by the disease.

During the first group activity, participants discussed the Mexican American deportation that occurred between 1929 and 1936 with San Diego State professor Ortiz. They also discussed the terms Latinx, Hispanic and Chicano.  

During the second session, participants met UC ANR Hispanic Heritage Month honorees Claudia Diaz, 4-H youth development advisor for Riverside and San Bernardino counties; Sonia Ríos, subtropical horticulture advisor for Riverside and San Diego counties; and Javier Miramontes, nutrition program supervisor for Fresno County.

The three spoke candidly about their experiences growing up in Mexico and in the U.S., family support as they pursued higher education and the communities they serve on behalf of UC ANR. Ríos, whose parents were farmworkers, said field workers know agriculture. “We need to listen to them,” she said.

During the uplifting forum, friends and family members of Diaz, Ríos and Miramontes spoke proudly of their accomplishments. A representative of the Mexican consulate congratulated all three honorees.   

For more information about upcoming events and to register, visit https://ucanr.edu/sites/Spanish/Hispanic_Heritage_Month/Hispanic_Heritage_Month_2020/Zoom_Forums_Calendar.

Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at 10:48 AM

UC ANR goes to Washington

The UC ANR group at the nation's capitol from left, Gabe Youtsey, Lucas Frerichs, Clare Gupta, Dina Moore, Bill Frost,Glenda Humiston, Lorrene Ritchie, Mike Mellano, Cher Watte and Wendy Powers.

“We visited offices of 26 of California's 55-member congressional delegation in two days!” said Lucas Frerichs, government and community relations manager. 

On March 6-9, a UC ANR delegation attended the 35th Annual Council on Agriculture Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET) meetings in Washington D.C. CARET is part of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). They also made congressional visits to explain the importance of science and research to California.

From left, Humiston, Congressman Jimmy Panetta and Frerichs.
“Our primary purpose for the visits was to show the members of Congress all the good work UC ANR is doing throughout California, whether it's through our Cooperative Extension efforts, 4-H Youth Development program, nutrition programs, Integrated Pest Management, Master Gardeners, etc.,” Frerichs said, “and the value that Californians receive from the money Congress allocates to the university for UC ANR programs.”

Vice President Glenda Humiston was joined by AVP Wendy Powers, UCB College of Natural Resources Dean Keith Gilless, UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences Dean Kathryn Uhrich, Nutrition Policy Institute Director Lorrene Ritchie, UC Cooperative Extension Specialist Clare Gupta, Chief Innovation Officer Gabe Youtsey, and Frerichs. Industry partners Bill Frost, former UC ANR AVP; Cher Watte, executive director of the California Asparagus Commission; Mike Mellano, fresh cut flower grower; Dina Moore, Humboldt County rancher; and Jean-Mari Peltier, managing partner of Environmental Solutions Group, served as CARET delegates from California.

The group split up into teams to visit the offices of Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, agriculture committee members, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and other California representatives.

Although no U.S. secretary of agriculture had been confirmed at the time of their visit, members expressed their support for agriculture.

“One thing that members of Congress – Republicans and Democrats – can certainly agree on is that the support for agriculture and the University of California is strong,” Frerichs said.

Read more about the CARET visits in Powers' ANR Adventures blog

From left, Youtsey, Mellano, Congressman Eric Swalwell, Ritchie, Frost and Powers.

Names in the News

Mark Bell
Bell named Vice Provost–Statewide Programs/Strategic Initiatives

Mark Bell will join UC ANR on May 1 as Vice Provost–Statewide Programs/Strategic Initiatives position. Bell is director of the UC Davis International Learning Center, a position he has held since 2007.

In this newly created position, Bell will provide leadership for a unified UC ANR program with strong statewide, campus and local presences. He will oversee the California Institute for Water Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute, the five UC ANR Strategic Initiatives and the nine UC ANR Statewide Programs. In addition, he will coordinate the Division's participation in the UC Presidential Initiatives, including the Global Food, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, UC-Mexico and Carbon Neutrality initiatives.

“Mark's record of success working with international extension systems in the combined roles of manager and field researcher makes him the ideal choice to serve as Vice Provost–Statewide Programs/Strategic Initiatives,” said VP Humiston in announcing his hiring.

“UC ANR can benefit from his skills and experience in leveraging research-extension linkages, adult education and information technology for agricultural development,” she said. Prior to joining UC Davis, Bell, who speaks Spanish, worked for nine years at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico and 11 years at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines.

At IRRI, he led development of the Rice Knowledge Bank – the world's major repository for rice-oriented training and extension materials aimed to help developing countries. He is currently leading development of Ag ExtensioneAfghan Ag and e-China Apple at UC Davis International Learning Center.

As vice provost, he will serve on the UC ANR Program Council and collaborate closely with the Vice Provost of Cooperative Extension and the Director of the Research and Extension Center System. He will be located in the offices at 2801 Second Street in Davis.

Bell has a Ph.D. in soil science and bachelor's degree in agricultural sciences from the University of Queensland in Australia and a master's degree in soil science from the University of Reading, U.K.

Cassandra Swett
Swett joins UC ANR as UCCE specialist

Cassandra Swett joined UCCE on Jan. 2, 2017, as an assistant specialist in Cooperative Extension in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis.

Prior to joining UCCE, Swett was an assistant professor and extension specialist at the University of Maryland, College Park, studying small fruit and grape diseases. Previously, Swett worked as a postdoctoral researcher with Doug Gubler, UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis.

Swett earned her B.S. in plant science from UC Santa Cruz, an M.S. in tropical plant pathology from the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and a Ph.D. in plant pathology from the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis.

Swett is located at 260 Hutchison Hall and can be reached at (530) 752-3377 and clswett@ucdavis.edu.

Stephanie Parreira
Parreira joins UC IPM as writer/editor

Stephanie Parreira joined UC IPM as a writer/editor on Feb. 13. Parreira will develop new and evaluate existing publications and products such as the "Pest Management Guidelines," year-round IPM programs, online tutorials, videos, identification cards, and other training materials. She will also assist UC IPM's urban and community IPM team with training courses about the principles of integrated pest management for UC Master Gardeners and other extenders of pest management information.

As a graduate student, Parreira sought to fill five major research gaps in honey bee pesticide toxicology: effects on whole colonies, effects on nurse bees (the youngest adult bees in a honey bee colony, which do not leave to collect pollen and nectar), effects of long-term exposure to field-realistic concentrations of pesticides, pesticide interactions, and effects of exposure through multiple routes (such as nectar and pollen). Outside of her research, she took many opportunities to speak to the public about current problems in bee health and what people can do to help bees thrive. She became especially interested in working in extension because of these experiences.

Parreira earned a B.A. in environmental studies and planning with a minor in biology from Sonoma State University in 2013, and earned an M.S. in horticulture with a focus in entomology from Oregon State University in 2016.

Parreira is located at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1391 and sparreira@ucanr.edu.

Michael Purnell
Purnell joins UC IPM as a programmer

Michael Purnell joined the Statewide IPM Program on Feb. 2 as a programmer.  He will be working on developing tools for the web that will enhance and add to the existing UC IPM products.  Some of these tools include improving and upgrading the plant problem diagnostics tool, IPM decision support tool, bee precaution pesticide ratings, and herbicide symptoms photo repository.

Before joining UC IPM, Purnell was a project manager and technical lead for Intel Corporation in Folsom, CA where he and his team developed code and designed technical diagrams to integrate Intel's administrative systems with third party on-premise and cloud solutions.

Purnell earned his B.S. and M.S. in computer science at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. 

Purnell is based at the ANR building in Davis, with the IPM IT/Production team, and can be reached at (530) 750-1248 and mdpurnell@ucanr.edu.

Posted on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 11:06 AM

UC ANR invites legislators to Ag Day at the Capitol

Secretary of State Alex Padilla, second from left, stopped Lucas Frerichs and Meredith Turner in the Capitol hallway to discuss mandarins.

Ag Day at the Capitol was held in Sacramento on March 22. On Monday, March 20, Lucas Frerichs, Tyler Ash, Pam Kan-Rice and Meredith Turner of UC State Government Relations, visited the offices of all 120 legislators and the governor and lieutenant governor to invite them to visit the UC ANR booth at Ag Day. They handed out bags of UC-developed "Tango" mandarins, explaining that the seedless, easy-to-peel citrus variety is one of many California crops developed with UC ANR research.

We'll have more coverage of Ag Day at the Capitol in the next ANR Report.

To see Twitter coverage of Ag Day at the Capitol, look for the hashtags #CalAgDay and #growCAtogether.

From left, Ash, Frerichs, Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, Turner and Kan-Rice.
Posted on Monday, March 20, 2017 at 11:11 PM

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