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Posts Tagged: Vikram Koundinya

Names in the News

Syrett joins ANR's front desk in Davis

Selena Syrett

Selena Syrett joined the ANR team as the receptionist for the ANR building in Davis in November. She had been working as a temporary employee at the front desk since September.

Syrett comes to UC ANR from the retail world of Nordstrom Rack, where she held jobs as a cashier and stockroom employee for four years. Prior to that, she taught high school students virtually over the summer and worked as an administrative assistant at Mare Island Home Health in Vallejo. She earned a B.A. in linguistics from UC Davis. 

Syrett is located at the front desk of the UC ANR building in Davis and can be reached at smsyrett@ucanr.edu and (530) 750-1200. 

Beck joins Hopland and Sierra Foothill RECs

Jackie Beck
Jacalyn “Jackie” Beck joined UC ANR as an academic program management officer for Hopland and Sierra Foothill research and extension centers on Oct. 25. She is charged with developing and managing the research programs at both Hopland REC and Sierra Foothill REC.

“My personal background is in interdisciplinary wildlife science and I am looking forward to expanding research and education at Hopland and Sierra Foothill in new and unique ways,” Beck said. “We will definitely continue to focus on our historic strengths (e.g., oak management and livestock research), but I will also be looking to bring on more integrated studies, creative pursuits, and social science programs.”

Beck will help the REC directors manage existing projects, recruit new researchers, assist with finding and winning funding, and develop collaborations, both among researchers at each REC and between the two RECs.

“My goal is to create a more unified vision for academic programs at the two sites and to facilitate projects that utilize the amazing resources at both,” Beck said.

She earned a Ph.D. in fisheries and wildlife at Michigan State University and a B.S. in wildlife and fisheries science at Pennsylvania State University. As a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow prior to joining UC ANR, Beck studied African lion and domestic cattle interactions, collecting data within Tanzanian national parks and non-protected areas. While working as a research coordinator for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources from 2014 to 2016, she implemented bat conservation efforts.

John Bailey, Hopland REC director, would like her to meet many members of the ANR community. “I'm hoping that the introduction will lead to people contacting her and remembering that our two RECs are great places to work,” he said.

Beck is based at Sierra Foothill REC and can be reached at jacbeck@ucanr.edu.

Eissa joins Environmental Health and Safety

Essam Eissa

Essam Eissa joined UC ANR as an environmental health and safety specialist in July.

From 2016 to 2020, Eissa served as an inspector with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  He worked from 2001 to 2016 in the California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Criminal Investigation as a senior environmental engineer. 

In 2002, he received a certification of professional negotiation skills from the California State Department. In 1993, the Governor's Office of Emergency Services recognized Eissa with a Certificate of Achievement for Incident Commander/Scene Manager.

Eissa earned bachelor's degrees in agriculture engineering and environmental/safety engineering from West Los Angeles College. He also earned a bachelor's degree in international law and criminal justice from Solano College. He was designated as a chief environmental engineer by the United Nations in Brindisi, Italy, in 2012.

Eissa is based in the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at (530) 750-1364 and eeissa@ucanr.edu.

Capitol Corridor small farms team expands

From left, Pang Kue, Asia Saechao, Fam Lee and Yurytzy Sanchez have joined Margaret Lloyd's small farms team.

Margaret Lloyd, UCCE Capitol Corridor advisor, has expanded her small farms team to include Hmong, Mien and Spanish-speaking community educators. 

Pang Kue took trainings from The Interpreter Advantage and Bridging the Gap (UC Davis) and is certified as a Superior Hmong Speaker. She has been a Hmong linguist for over 10 years, providing professional language services for clients including UC Davis Medical Center, leading Hmong language study groups, teaching cultural etiquette, and volunteering in her community. Kue can be reached at pykue@ucanr.edu

Asia Saechao is a queer, nonbinary descendent of Indigenous Khmu and Iu Mien refugees of the Secret War in Laos who settled in Richmond - homeland and ancestral lands of the Huchiun band of Ohlone.

Before joining UC ANR, Saechao worked with an environmental nonprofit to develop culturally relevant environmental education for youth of color in Oregon's greater Portland area. They now work to reimagine tools for Iu Mien and Khmu learning, storytelling and archiving. In addition to serving Mien and Hmong farmers with UC ANR, Saechao serves as senior program coordinator for Iu Mien Community Services. Saechao can be reached at asisaechao@ucanr.edu.

Fam Fin Lee was a strawberry grower for six years in Elk Grove and got to know Lloyd through farm visits and annual meetings. Her parents, who are lu-Mien, were farmers in Laos and in Thailand.

Born in Laos, Lee moved to the U.S. in 1979. Initially living with her family in an apartment with three Chinese families, Lee learned to speak Cantonese before learning English. Lee can be reached at fllee@ucanr.edu.

Yurytzy Sanchez grew up on a peach farm and raised goats, sheep, chickens and cattle in the Central Valley. The first-generation college graduate did an internship in Washington D.C. while earning her bachelor's degree in international relations from UC Davis. She also volunteered, then interned at the UC Davis Student Farm. After graduation, Sanchez took a farming position at The Cloverleaf Farm, where she co-owned and managed an eight-acre organic vegetable and stone fruit farm. Sanchez can be reached at ygsanchez@ucdavis.edu.

The small farms team is based at the UCCE office in Woodland. To read more about them, visit https://ccsmallfarms.ucanr.edu/About.

ESA recognizes Dara, Sutherland, Perring 

Surendra Dara

Three UC ANR entomologists were recently honored by the Entomological Society of America.

Surendra Dara, UCCE entomology and biologicals advisor for San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, received the Plant-Insect Ecosystems Section award for Outstanding Contributions to Agricultural Entomology.

Andrew Sutherland, UCCE urban integrated pest management advisor for the Bay Area, was honored for exceptional service to the society's Certification Corporation Board. He has been actively involved in developing ESA certification programs that are designed to help pest management professionals demonstrate their knowledge and skills to advance their careers.

Andrew Sutherland receives ESA award for exceptional service to the society's Certification Corporation Board.

Thomas Perring
This year, the ESA launched the Certified Integrated Pest Management Technician credential. "The new CIT credential gives pest management professionals who are relatively new to the field a way to get a leg up in their career and gain a competitive edge," Sutherland said.

As reported previously, Thomas Perring, a professor in the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside, received the ESA Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management.

The awards were presented Nov. 2 during ESA's annual meeting in Denver.

Pourreza elected to Club of Bologna

Alireza Pourreza
Alireza Pourreza, UC Davis assistant professor of Cooperative Extension in biological and agricultural engineering, was elected to the prestigious Club of Bologna in October.

The Club of Bologna is a world task force on agricultural mechanization. The Italy-based club is comprised of 96 members from 28 countries, representing research, industry and international organizations around the world. Pourreza is one of four new members this year and the only full member from California.

“It's a great honor for me to represent U.S. and California in the Club of Bologna,” he said. “Becoming a full member has been my dream since I first joined the club as a temporary member in 2016. I'm eager to get involved with club activities and pursue California's priorities and needs in mechanization and smart farming.”

Pourreza runs the Digital Agriculture Lab at UC Davis, which uses novel sensing and mechanization technology to help California growers get the most out of their crops and resources.

His lab has developed a virtual orchard that can simulate any orchard down to the tree level using aerial sensing data collected with drones. It allows growers to examine their crops in virtual reality and run experiments to determine how much sunlight each plant is getting, as well as how to optimize resources. This prevents overuse of resources that can waste water and have detrimental long-term effects on the plants.

His team has also developed a mechanical spray backstop to catch spray pesticide particles that would otherwise be released into the air when being applied to trees.

Noah Pflueger-Peters' full story is at https://caes.ucdavis.edu/news/alireza-pourreza-elected-club-bologna.

Meng and CalFresh team win innovation award

From left, Martha Lopez, Chris Wong,Yu Meng, Paul Tabarez and Rigo Ponce of UCCE Imperial County's nutrition team. Shown in 2019.

Yu Meng, UCCE youth family and community advisor, and the CalFresh Healthy Living, UC team in Imperial County were honored by the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences West Region with the Innovative Youth Development Program Award for Team Project.

Their “Engaging Underserved Youth in Nutrition Education and Community Development through Youth-led Participatory Action Research Program” was designed to engage youth to address nutrition, healthy behaviors, and other public health issues based on social justice principles.

With their guidance, students conducted video interviews capturing classmates' comments about cafeteria food and preferred snacks. Based on what they learned, the students recruited new members to deliver gardening and cooking lessons as well as advocate for a farm-to-school program and more garden space to benefit the whole school.

At another school, students audited food waste in their cafeteria. To reduce food waste, the students asked administrators to create a “Share Table” where students can leave unopened and untouched food for other students to pick up and eat. Meng anticipates the change will benefit more than 400 low-income youth at the school.

They partnered with Career Technical Education teachers, which boosted youth participation from dozens to hundreds. The collaboration has led to youths creating physical activity videos and developing a survey to find out how active their peers have been during the pandemic. 

During the past three years, the Imperial County team worked with three school districts and 300 youth, indirectly benefiting 7,100 students through policy and environmental changes that schools made. Pre- and post-program surveys show that students reported their willingness to suggest solutions or recommendations for making their school/community a healthier place rose from 29% to 93%.

Koundinya honored for evaluation training

Vikram Koundinya

Vikram Koundinya, UCCE evaluation specialist at UC Davis, received the American Evaluation Association's Excellence in Extension Evaluation Training Award.

The award recognizes his efforts in conducting extension evaluation training of outstanding quality for UC Cooperative Extension professionals. His extension evaluation-capacity building program includes statewide trainings, trainings to specific project teams of extension advisors, and one-on-one consultations with extension advisors, UCCE specialists, academic staff and students.

The award was presented to Koundinya Nov. 9 during the association's 35th annual conference, which was held virtually.

 

New research identifies UCCE disaster management needs

From left, UCCE small-farm team members Jesus Ontiveros Barajas, Marianna Castiaux and Jacob Roberson distributed COVID-19 safety kits to small-scale farmers in Fresno County. Photo by Carmen Mendoza

Californians have been dealing with wildfires, the pandemic, power shutdowns, excessive heat and drought, sometimes all at the same time. In every county, UC Cooperative Extension is there to assist community members.

To better serve their clientele, nearly three-quarters of UC Cooperative Extension employees say they need professional development related to disaster response, according to a new study led by Vikram Koundinya, UC Cooperative Extension evaluation specialist in the UC Davis Department of Human Ecology.

Koundinya and coauthors Cristina Chiarella, UC Davis doctoral graduate student researcher; Susan Kocher, UC Cooperative Extension advisor for the Central Sierra; and Faith Kearns, California Institute for Water Resources academic coordinator, surveyed UC ANR personnel to identify existing disaster management programs and future needs. Their research was published in the October 2020 edition of Journal of Extension.

“It's becoming so common that our folks are being put in the role of responding to disasters, while not having much training or background to do so,” Kocher said. 

After the Camp Fire, Tracy Schohr sampled stream water in Butte County to test for livestock owners who worried whether it was safe for animals to drink.

“And, it's really cross-disciplinary,” she added. “Right now, our nutrition folks are doing so much with assisting their communities with food access during COVID. Others, like Faith Kearns, have been working hard to address drought and help clientele weather drought impacts. There are the individual events like the LNU Lightning Complex fires [wildfires caused by lightning strikes in Lake, Napa, Sonoma, Solano and Yolo counties that burned from Aug. 17 to Oct. 2, 2020], but really, so many of us are currently doing disaster work across our disciplines and that role will only continue to expand with climate change-induced disasters. Once you frame it as ‘disaster work' you can start to see how our system needs to be much more prepared and to learn from and collaborate with each other and with disaster organizations.”

The survey showed that about one-third of the 224 respondents had been involved in preparing for, responding to, or helping communities recover from disasters. Respondents also noted a variety of needs related to disaster preparedness, response and recovery systems, procedures, materials and equipment, and educational materials.

“UC ANR personnel reported a need for professional development related to understanding how we fit into broader disaster response systems (73%) in California, what Extension resources are available for disaster response (63%), how the landscape of disaster risks in California communities is changing (62%), how communities can mitigate or manage disaster risks (62%), how to develop pre-established networks within the organization for responding to disasters (52%) and coordination with local and state entities (48%),” Koundinya said.

The authors note in the journal article, “Even though UCCE has been playing a critical role in disaster response for decades, because of the size and geographic spread of the UCCE system, disaster management approaches and materials have tended to develop piecemeal on a program-by-program and often county-by-county and disaster-by-disaster basis.” 

Betsy Karle takes a forage sample to assess whether it was safe for cattle to be moved onto pasture that was not burned but had received ash from the Camp Fire. Photo by Tracy Schohr

The article, “Disasters Happen: Identifying disaster management needs of Cooperative Extension System personnel” can be viewed at https://joe.org/joe/2020october/a2.php.

“We recommend that the findings be used for designing professional development on the topics and needs identified by the respondents,” said Koundinya.

In her blog ANR Adventures, AVP Wendy Powers, wrote about the report, “The tables identifying needs are of particular interest to me and perhaps something the Learning and Development team might think about for future trainings.” 

Posted on Friday, October 30, 2020 at 11:09 AM

Needs assessment workshops offered Sept. 7 and 14

UCCE advisors, UCCE specialists and academics coordinators are invited to attend a training workshop on conducting a needs assessment.

Vikram Koundinya, UCCE evaluation specialist in the Department of Human Ecology (Community and Regional Development) at UC Davis; Chris Greer, IPM area advisor in UCCE San Luis Obispo County; and Katherine Webb-Martinez, associate director of UC ANR Program Planning and Evaluation are hosting training workshops in two locations – Davis and Parlier.

Friday, Sept. 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the UC ANR Building, 2801 Second Street, Davis

Featuring roundtable discussion sharing UCCE examples with

  • Betsy Karle, area dairy advisor & county director, Glenn County
  • Susie Kocher, forestry/natural resources advisor, Central Sierra and El Dorado counties
  • Steven Worker, 4-H youth development advisor, Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties

Friday, Sept. 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, 9240 South Riverbend Ave., Parlier

Featuring roundtable discussion sharing UCCE examples with

  • Ramiro Lobo, small farms and agricultural economics advisor, San Diego County
  • Fadzayi Mashiri, livestock and natural resources advisor, Mariposa and Merced counties
  • Deepa Srivastava, nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor, Tulare and Kings counties

The interactive training will help answer questions such as: What exactly is expected for a needs assessment? What is the benefit? When should I do this? How often should I do this? How do I use the information to design my program?

It will include basic, practical how-to steps, approaches, methods and how to write clear and concise questions.

Participants will engage in a roundtable discussion with UCCE advisors, who will share their needs assessment experiences and lessons learned.

Participants will gain...

  • understanding of position description needs-assessment expectation
  • understanding of the what, how, when of needs assessments
  • understanding of and practice writing good questions
  • awareness of UC ANR needs assessment examples and resources
  • a draft needs assessment plan

Register at https://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=25314.

For more information, contact Katherine Webb-Martinez, Katherine.webb-martinez@ucop.edu, (510) 987-0029.

Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at 3:28 PM

AVP Powers announces 51 proposals invited for competitive and high-reward grants

AVP Wendy Powers announced the letters of intent (LOIs) for which principal investigators have been invited to submit full proposals to ANR's Competitive Grants Program and High-Risk/High-Reward Grants Program. The list of 51 approved projects can be found at http://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/files/261626.pdf.

This year ANR received a total of 108 letters of intent — 97 for the Competitive Grants Program and 11 for the High-Risk/High-Reward Grants Program. Strategic Initiative leaders and their respective panels reviewed all letters of intent thoroughly to address the appropriateness of the proposals in addressing the goals and criteria outlined by each funding opportunity.

ANR Competitive Grants Program

The purpose of the ANR competitive grants program is to address high-priority issue areas identified by at least one of the strategic initiatives: Endemic and Invasive Pests and Diseases (EIPD), Healthy Families and Communities (HFC), Sustainable Food Systems (SFS), Sustainable Natural Ecosystems (SNE), and Water Quality, Quantity and Security (Water).

ANR Competitive Grants Program 2017 Cycle:

  • Full proposals due June 19
  • Technical peer review: mid-June – early September 2017
  • Strategic Initiative review and recommendations: end of September 2017
  • Program Council review and recommendations: October/November 2017
  • Announcement of funded grants: November/December 2017

High-Risk/High-Reward Grants Program

Given the complexity of societal problems, high-risk research is necessary to achieve gains for real progress in addressing present and emerging challenges. This program will provide funds to initiate and complete research and proof-of-concept efforts that serve as the basis for larger funding opportunities. These projects must be of a high-risk/high-reward nature that are best conducted in a controlled, research setting and, if successful, lend themselves to subsequent larger funding opportunities and/or intellectual property development.

Proposed projects must be within the scope of the ANR Strategic Vision. All ANR academics with PI status are eligible to apply. Proposals will be accepted using the same timeline as outlined for the traditional competitive grants program, but reviewed separately due to the nature of the proposal.

For questions about ANR's competitive grants program or high-risk/high-reward grants program, please contact Melanie Caruso at mmcaruso@ucanr.edu.

Nutrition Policy Institute launches Research to Action news brief

The Nutrition Policy Institute has launched a news brief called Research to Action. The publication will provide information on research, policy, news, announcements, events, articles and action items focused on nutrition and healthy communities. 

The first issue looks at the work of the National Drinking Water Alliance (NDWA). NPI is the “hub” for NDWA, which engages in and coordinates evidence-based efforts going on all over the country to improve tap water safety and access, especially for children, and to provide drinking water education and promotion. The NDWA website is a “go-to” resource for information on drinking water. 
 
Future editions of Research to Action will be sent several times per year. Please sign up for the Research to Action mailing list, and please share Research to Action with colleagues who would be interested in receiving it.

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