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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

ANR Statewide Conference reaches maximum capacity

If you haven't registered for the ANR Statewide Conference yet, there's no guarantee space will be available. There are 653 people registered, including speakers and UC President's Advisory Commission members (PAC), for the conference being held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Ontario April 9-12.

“At this point, we are accepting applications to attend because we're exceeding capacity of the facility,” said Sherry Cooper, director of Program Support Unit. “New registrations will not be confirmed until you receive an email or phone call confirming your registration, so please wait for confirmation before making travel plans.”

Among those registered are 145 UC Cooperative Extension advisors, 71 UCCE specialists, 26 academic coordinators and administrators, 20 Agricultural Experiment Station faculty members and nearly 350 administrative and programmatic staff.

The President's Advisory Commission will meet on Monday afternoon and PAC members have been invited to stay to hear California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross speak Monday evening, ANR leaders discuss “Charting a Sustainable Future for ANR,” and President Janet Napolitano speak on Tuesday.

The agriculture and natural resources industry leaders who serve on PAC will also join ANR members Tuesday morning to listen to keynote speaker Antwi Akom, UCSF and SFSU professor and founding director of Social Innovation and Urban Opportunity Lab (SOUL) and co-founder and CEO of Streetwyze. His talk is titled “Race, Space, Place and Waste: How Innovation, Education, and Inspiration Can Fearlessly Catalyze California Towards Becoming the World's Leader in Agriculture and Natural Resources Management.”

If you plan to tweet about the ANR Statewide Conference, the hashtag is #UCANRconf2018.

Posted on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 1:42 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

IGIS plans next steps based on program review

Glenda Humiston
In 2017, an ad hoc committee was appointed to carry out ANR's routine five-year statewide program review of our Informatics and Geographic Information Systems (IGIS) Program. Associate Vice President Powers and I extend a thank you to the committee for their time commitment and thoroughness in examining the program and providing recommendations to UC ANR's Program Council (PC). The time and effort of IGIS Director Maggi Kelly and staff to provide information and PC's review of the report and recommendations are also greatly appreciated.

Given limited personnel and a short time since startup, IGIS has made significant contributions throughout ANR. There is a great need for the program within and beyond ANR, and IGIS personnel have shown impressive results in reaching out to the wider ANR community and external partners.

Here is a summary of the direction and next steps I provided to the IGIS Program Director:

  • IGIS should focus on expanding capacity and reach with drones and prioritize investing in new technology.
  • IGIS will work with the REC Directors to develop a call process to identify science leads who are interested in taking over full ownership of one or more of the flux towers.
  • IGIS should discontinue its involvement with cataloguing dark data, but work with ANR Communication Services and Information Technology office (CSIT) to inform ANR academics that digitized documents are available in the ANR repository.
  • Associate Vice President Powers and I will meet with Program Director Kelly to further discuss the proposal to re-characterize IGIS from a statewide program to a statewide academic service.
  • IGIS will develop a business plan to continue to scale up services that are in demand by UC ANR academics and offer services in a way that decreases reliance on central funds.
  • IGIS should update its website to clearly articulate to whom resources and services are available. When IGIS is not able to provide a service, to the degree possible, it should act as a clearing house and refer clients to other providers.
  • IGIS should incorporate evaluation methods that focus on the effectiveness of workshops and services and the extent of IGIS' reach.

I look forward to working with IGIS as it pursues these and other opportunities that may arise.

Glenda Humiston
Vice President

Posted on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 12:20 PM
Focus Area Tags: Innovation

Names in the News

Wang joins UCCE as vegetable and irrigation advisor

Zheng Wang

Zheng Wang joined UCCE on March 5, 2018, as an area vegetable production and irrigation advisor in Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties.

Prior to joining UCCE, Wang was a postdoctoral researcher at The Ohio State University-Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, where he had conducted cutting-edge and applied research and extension work on vegetable crop production since 2015. His federally funded and state-funded projects integrated minimal tillage, vegetable grafting and use of microbial biostimulants to optimize local and regional vegetable operations. From 2011 to 2014, Wang was a graduate research assistant at University of Kentucky. His research focused on the effects of production systems and tillage applications on vegetable drought tolerance and endophytic bacterial dynamics.

Wang earned a Ph.D. in crop science from University of Kentucky and an M.S. in agriculture from Western Kentucky University. Wang, who is fluent in Chinese, earned a B.S. in agronomy from Shenyang Agricultural University in China.

Wang is based in Modesto and can be reached at (209) 525-6822 and zzwwang@ucanr.edu.

Sosnoskie returns as UCCE agronomy and weed advisor

Lynn Sosnoskie

Lynn Sosnoskie joined UCCE on Feb. 26, 2018, as an area agronomy and weed management advisor in Merced and Madera counties. 

Before returning to UC, Sosnoskie spent a year at Washington State University as an assistant research faculty member tasked with extending the reach of the WSU weed science team in the Columbia Basin. From 2012 to 2016, Sosnoskie was an associate project scientist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, working with UCCE specialist Brad Hanson to partner solutions-based research needs of growers with an increased understanding of the biological and environmental factors that impact weeds and weed control in California's specialty crops. From 2006 to 2011, she held a postdoctoral research professional position at University of Georgia, where she contributed to weed control research and outreach efforts in upland cotton and fresh market vegetables.

As a weed scientist, Sosnoskie is interested in the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds, the preservation of effective chemical control strategies through the judicious use of herbicides and the adoption of non-chemical control practices, automated weeders, the effects of drought on the composition of weed communities, perennial weed management, and improving our understanding of weed biology and ecology to maximize vegetation control. With respect to agronomy, Sosnoskie evaluates crop responses to temperature, as well as water availability and water quality, and the epidemiology and management of diseases like Fusarium Race 4 in cotton. She collaborates on a variety of crop issues such as soil salinity and fertility management. 

Sosnoskie earned a Ph.D. in horticulture and crop science from The Ohio State University, a M.S. in crop and soil science from University of Delaware, and a B.S. in biology from Lebanon Valley College.

Based in Merced, Sosnoskie can be reached at (229) 326-2676 and lmsosnoskie@ucanr.edu. You can follow her on Twitter @LynnSosnoskie and @agronomyweedsci.

Zalom and Goodell receive international lifetime IPM awards

Frank Zalom Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

Peter Goodell, UCCE integrated pest management advisor emeritus, and Frank Zalom, professor and UCCE specialist in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at UC Davis, received lifetime achievement awards at the Ninth International IPM Symposium March 19 in Baltimore.

Zalom is a past president of the 7,000-member Entomological Society of America, co-founder of the International IPM symposia, and served as director of UC ANR's Statewide IPM Program for 16 years.

“Dr. Zalom continues to advance the science and implementation of IPM,” said Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “His integrity, service and respect for all are legendary.”

Read more about Zalom's contributions at //ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=24248.

Pete Goodell Photo by Todd Fitchette
Goodell retired in 2017 after serving 36 years as an advisor with the UC Statewide IPM Program, which was established in 1980. His accomplishments have been recognized with two Distinguished Service Awards from UC ANR, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Applied IPM Ecologists, and even being named by US News and World Report as one of the “Ten Most Indispensable Americans.”

Read more about Goodell's career at //ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=24248.

Surls receives 2018 Bradford Rominger Ag Sustainability Leadership Award

Rachel Surls

Rachel Surls, UCCE sustainable food systems advisor for Los Angeles County, is this year's recipient of the Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award. Surls received the award from the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at the Celebrating Women in Agriculture event in Davis on April 3.

Surls has been committed to community gardens, school gardens, and urban agriculture since long before our cities took notice. For 30 years, she has worked at the UC Cooperative Extension Office in Los Angeles County, helping to bring city-grown food into the mainstream.

The Bradford Rominger award, given yearly, honors individuals who exhibit the leadership, work ethic and integrity epitomized by the late Eric Bradford, a livestock geneticist who gave 50 years of service to UC Davis, and the late Charlie Rominger, a fifth-generation Yolo County farmer and land preservationist.

“In her three-decade career with UCCE, Rachel has developed a strong program addressing some of our most critical issues in sustainable agriculture,” says Keith Nathaniel, the Los Angeles County Cooperative Extension director. “She does so with innovative strategies, working with all aspects of the LA community. After 30 years doing this work, she continues to be active in the community she serves.”

In Surls' career, gardening has been a tool to build science literacy for schoolchildren, to increase self-sufficiency for communities impacted by economic downturn, and to create small businesses for urban entrepreneurs. As the interest in and support for urban agriculture has grown, she has been in the heart of Los Angeles, ready to respond to the needs of the city's farmers and gardeners. – Aubrey Thompson

Linquist honored with Rice Research and Education Award

Bruce Linquist

The Rice Technical Working Group presented Bruce Linquist, UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, and a team of rice researchers with the Distinguished Rice Research and Education Award Feb. 21 during their annual conference in Long Beach.

Linquist has been collaborating with rice researchers at the University of Arkansas, the USDA in Jonesborough, Ark., and Louisiana State University on advancing irrigation management practices to achieve sustainable intensification outcomes.

While rice has historically been grown in flooded fields, the researchers have been introducing aerobic periods during the growing season (also known as alternate wetting and drying). The practice has been shown to reduce CH4 emissions and water use. Read more about the rice project at http://news.plantsciences.ucdavis.edu/2018/03/27/bruce-linquist-distinguished-rice-research-and-education-award.  – Ann Filmer

Doug Parker

Parker re-elected to national water resources board

Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water Resources, has been re-elected by the delegates of the Universities Council on Water Resources to serve as a member of the Board of Directors. Parker, who is the past president of UCOWR, an association of universities and organizations leading in education, research and public service in water resources, will begin his next three-year term with the UCOWR Board meeting on June 28 at the joint 2018 UCOWR National Institutes for Water Resources Conference in Pittsburgh, Penn.

UCOWR strives to facilitate water-related education at all levels, promote meaningful research and technology transfer on contemporary and emerging water resources issues, compile and disseminate information on water problems and solutions, and promote informed decisions about water issues at all levels of society. 

Posted on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 12:00 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

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