Strategies for Building and Preserving Academic Strength

Jun 14, 2013 Debra Cheung

Core Programs

Within each of the college's three thematic areas, there are specific programs that describe significant areas of faculty endeavor. These programs represent core strengths of the college - a foundation that must remain strong if we are to successfully build new capabilities and achieve higher levels of excellence in agricultural, environmental, and societal arenas. As noted above, approximately 70 faculty members in the CA&ES will reach age 65 in the planning window. We anticipate that sustaining core programs will require about 85 percent of upcoming retirements, but that approximately 15 percent could be redirected to meet emerging priorities. We emphasize in this plan new elements that build upon our strengths, and that promise to elevate college (and campus) programs to new levels.


College Opportunities

Agricultural and Environmental Genomics

The CA&ES will actively support and participate in the campus genomics initiative and the developing Center for Functional and Comparative Genomics (CFCG). In so doing, we will concentrate on subjects that reflect our particular strengths. Our priority is to build upon our existing strengths in plant genomics, which we already have initiated through the release of two positions. Considering our investment in animal biology, and the complementary investments in other campus units, we next will build our strengths in animal genomics. With established expertise in organismal biology, the CA&ES will make major contributions in understanding genome function and applying that understanding to solve agricultural problems. In view of its existing strengths, the focus for programmatic development for the CA&ES should be in functional genomics to gain an in-depth knowledge of gene function and in comparative genomics to transfer fundamental genomics information from model species to agriculturally important animals, plants and microbes.

Programmatic Strengths and Opportunities

  • Plant genomics
    The college faculty represents considerable strength in plant genetics and breeding. Clearly, plant genomics represents an area that builds upon existing faculty strengths, while advancing the mission of the AES. Among the key questions which need to be answered through genomics are how we can improve plant resistance to pests and diseases, enhance food nutrient content and bioavailability, and increase crop productivity, quality and shelf life - all while maintaining biodiversity.
  • Animal genomics
    The CA&ES has a strong faculty base to support the development of animal genomics research and is particularly well positioned to exploit genome information from model systems such as the mouse, Drosophila and Caenorhabditis elegans. The Center for Genetically Engineered Large Animals uniquely positions the CA&ES to move functional genomics research, as well as applications, from the mouse to large animal models. The breadth of programs in animal genetics provides great opportunities to develop a comprehensive research program in animal genomics by spanning the research continuum from the development of basic gene maps, through the identification of individual genes, to the identification of function using appropriately manipulated animal models. Complementing the above, the CA&ES has strong programs in vertebrate and invertebrate biology.
  • Microbial genomics
    The research opportunities in microbial genomics are numerous. Current areas of strength within the CA&ES include microbial pathogenesis, food microbiology and environmental microbiology. Many microbial genomes have been sequenced, providing opportunities for comparative genomics. The focus of our efforts should therefore shift from sequencing to understanding gene function. We have strong programs in microbial biochemistry and molecular biology which will form the foundation of functional genomics with respect to food safety and host-pathogen interactions.

Faculty recruitment priorities

To facilitate the coordinated development of agricultural genomics programs, the CA&ES will target departments that optimize the potential for competitive genomics research programs. Faculty positions that meet the following criteria will receive the highest priority for recruitment:

  • emphasize functional or comparative genomics
  • complement or integrate with campus-wide programs in the CFCG
  • contribute to balanced growth across animal, plant and microbial genomics.

The CA&ES supports the concept that positions released under the campus Genomics Initiative should not be allocated initially to colleges or departments. After the best candidates are identified, appropriate academic affiliations will be determined by mutual agreement between candidates and departments. Since an understanding of the genome is central to all the genetic research done in the college, we anticipate that many or most of the genomics positions in our college will be filled through internal redirection. However, to keep pace with rapid advances in this field the college will seek opportunities to accelerate the pace of genomics recruitments.

Specific implementation strategy

The CA&ES will support the development of, and participate fully in, the CFCG. The CFCG will provide a core of expertise and instrumentation in genomics and bioinformatics and is intended to serve as a central organizational structure for the development of genomics at UC Davis. It is intended that this core facility will catalyze the development of genomics within campus schools, colleges and departments. Our college supports this model and will develop the internal organizational structures to rapidly advance the applications of genomics research to our missions in the AES. Thus, we will follow the recommendation of the Plant Science Strategic Planning Steering Committee that called for the formation of a center focused on plant genomics and biochemistry - but expand the concept to include animal and microbial systems. Physical co-location of some faculty engaged in genomics research in a quot;satellite centerquot; will facilitate the development of specialized facilities, training activities and multi-investigator grants that support applied genomics research. Simultaneously, the college will begin deliberate efforts to renew outdated animal and plant growth facilities that are integral to biological research. The center will also serve as a platform for seeking training grants for graduate students. We will identify and dedicate approximately 10,000 sq. ft. of laboratory space to house the equipment and programs associated with this center.

Opportunities for undergraduate and graduate education

The need for courses and research training in genomics is rapidly expanding. Since 1996 the numbers of students enrolled in three interdepartmental majors (animal biology, biotechnology, plant biology) that require exposure to concepts and methods of genomics has increased from 50 to over 350, and continues on an upward trajectory. Based on the strong growth of the life sciences industry, the CA&ES anticipates continued expansion of student interest in majors that will prepare them for a career in applied biology. The CA&ES will capture this educational opportunity by ensuring that it has the most up to date curriculum and capacity to serve this student demand. The CA&ES will act to bring national recognition to our undergraduate curricula in the applied life sciences through broad advertisement of our programs. In addition to supporting existing programs, the CA&ES will develop opportunities for joint majors with the College of Engineering and the Division of Math and Physical Sciences that link computational and biological curricula.

Water and Watersheds

Issues surrounding the management of water resources are paramount in California and globally, and thus stand as a high priority in the CA&ES. Further, the need to optimally manage natural resources and ecosystems under pressure from a growing urban population has stimulated a nationwide call for new approaches to the analysis and management of water and watersheds, recognizing water as the 'life blood' of the watershed or ecosystem. The campus is positioned to take a world leadership role in the area of integrated watershed science and management. To achieve this goal, the college will provide essential vision and resources to

  1. strengthen the disciplines that underpin watershed science
  2. foster interdisciplinary, center-based efforts that have proven successful in this area

Programmatic Strengths and Opportunities

UC Davis is uniquely positioned to become the world leader in the science, policy and management of water and watersheds. The college has strengths in
  • Hydrologic processes
    Excellence in water and watersheds area requires disciplinary depth in the sciences focused on water quality and the circulation of solutes and sediments at spatial and temporal scales ranging from nanometers to kilometers and seconds to millennia. While the college is strong in these areas, elements of strength have been eroded through recent retirements. These gaps have negatively impacted the college's and the campus' competitive position in this area. A strategic goal for the college over the next five years will be to reinvigorate this area.
  • Resource policy and management
    This area forms a vital link between the broad range of watershed researchers on campus and watershed decision-makers and stakeholders. The importance of linkage between science and policy-makers is described further in the quot;Science, public and governmental policyquot; initiative. While the college has significant strength in this arena, the addition of key positions in the social sciences will move us to the forefront of the field and substantially increase our extramural funding position.
  • Watershed ecology and biological resources
    The further listing of endangered species, the health of our declining anadromous inland fisheries and the loss of our productive wetland ecosystems are linked to water and habitat quality, environmental variability, and the demand for limited natural resources with a growing human population. Using the science of ecology, biological components can be linked to the physical processes and characteristics of these systems, such that improved system level modeling can be derived. The Tahoe Research Group and CALFED are examples of strength in this area. It is a priority that this strength be maintained in the face of future retirements.
  • Integrative approaches
    The classical approach to ecosystem problems focuses on spatially and temporally local analyses of physical and biological resource conditions. As noted above, we have considerable strength in the basic sciences that are needed for water and watershed research and teaching. However, to move this field forward, a greater emphasis must be placed on an integrative watershed approach that will expand the scientific/management paradigm to basin-scale, cause-and-effect relationships between resource management (e.g., forest management, agricultural practice, water diversions and flood control) and downstream resource sustainability, including ecosystem function. The college is positioned to do this through the support of centers such as the center for Integrated Watershed Analysis and Management, and by filling positions that are key to the successful integration of campus efforts.

Faculty recruitment priorities

A number of campus positions have been identified to advance the campus initiative in "Integrated Watershed Science". The CA&ES initiative on "Water and Watersheds" will be a major contributor to the campus program. We envision that over the next three years, three positions should be recruited to lead and catalyze greater integration of the multiple disciplines that comprise watershed science. We anticipate that one or two of these positions will be located primarily in the CA&ES. These individuals will provide campus leadership and visibility at the interface between policy and hydrologic/biologic sciences. The positions will be:

  1. an integrative watershed scientist who will focus on the linkages between physical, chemical and biological processes that operate at the watershed scale
  2. an ecosystem valuation economist
  3. The latter two positions will form a vital link between the broad range of watershed researchers on campus and watershed decision-makers and stakeholders.

The latter two positions will form a vital link between the broad range of watershed researchers on campus and watershed decision-makers and stakeholders.

Other positions will augment areas in environmental remote sensing and sediment transport, and ensure maintenance of core strengths in watershed ecology, water quality and fluid mechanics. We envision that most of these positions will be filled through a mixture of replacements and redirections of positions vacated through retirements.

Specific implementation strategy

The college will accelerate excellence in watershed sciences by promoting greater integration among disciplines and campus programs through centers. In the area of water, a committee of department chairs (quot;The Water Chairsquot;) from CA&ES, Engineering, Letters and Science, Veterinary Medicine, and related center directors has been formed to coordinate planning activities. It is envisioned that this group will form a steering committee to oversee the Center for Integrated Watershed Analysis and Management (CIWAM) and provide a forum for discussion and consensus building on the development of water initiatives. Because these chairs are responsible for curricula, the college will work to support their vision that CIWAM should expand its mission to include a role in coordinating curricula in the water area - thereby serving as a nexus for water-oriented graduate groups such as Hydrologic Sciences. The college will act to identify and develop space that will advance this initiative in a timely fashion. An underlying principle in this regard will be to work toward collocation of college environmental programs. An additional function of the steering committee would be to make recommendations to the appropriate deans regarding the home departments/units for faculty recruitments in the water/watersheds area. Finally, the college will work with the department chairs affiliated with the CIWAM to better coordinate undergraduate and graduate curricula in the area of water and watersheds. This will be particularly important to meet society's demand for individuals trained in this area.

The college will develop and expand partnerships with federal and state agencies responsible for watershed research, policy and monitoring. This will be accomplished by supporting the presence of governmental agencies on campus. Universities that have promoted the location of agency personnel on campus have been highly successful at expanding their research support base.

Opportunities for undergraduate and graduate education

Increasing concerns over water quality and quantity translate into an increased need for professionals trained in this area. A natural outgrowth of this initiative area will be the refinement of undergraduate and graduate curricula and majors that better meet the needs of the students and the workforce. This will require an intensive evaluation of the current programs. It is envisioned that at least one training grant in this area will be obtained within a three-year time frame. In addition, due to the large number of water professionals in the surrounding area, there are opportunities for development of certificate programs and night classes.

Agriculture, Environment and Human Health

During the past decade, there has been increasing interest in the identification of new means by which we can improve the health and well being of our nation's citizenry. Improvements in the quality of the food we consume, the environment we live in, and the promotion of the most efficient and effective use of our economic resources, are all factors that must be simultaneously addressed if we are to substantially advance all segments of the population. The CA&ES has programs that are aimed at all of the above issues, and the college is internationally recognized as a leader in the area of agriculture and human health.

Programmatic Strengths and Opportunities

  • Food Safety and Human Health
    Food safety is a subject of growing public concern. Strong research programs in select areas of food safety are already well established in several college departments as well as the DBS and the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. An opportunity to greatly advance these programs would be through the establishment of a campus-wide Food Safety Center. Three areas in food safety warrant special attention given the strengths of the Davis campus. The development of programs in the following three areas will be a high priority for the college. First, we will develop a program to comprehensively address the safety of genetically modified foods. This program will examine the human and ecological safety of genetically modified organisms, including their social and economic implications. This program will contribute to the campus and college genomics initiatives, and it will draw extramural support from government agencies, private foundations and private businesses. Second, the CA&ES will expand its research in the areas of food processing, transportation and storage, both pre- and post- consumer purchase. This expanded research thrust is essential due to consumer demands for minimally-processed, pesticide- and additive-free foods. Third, we will develop a program emphasizing the heightened sensitivity of select populations such as children, pregnant women and the elderly to numerous environmental insults such as pesticides, human-pathogenic bacteria and food antigens. Given that genotypes significantly influence an individual's response to environmental challenges, this area also falls within the campus and college genomics initiatives.
  • Nutrition and Human Health
    The optimization of health is partly dependent on the optimization of one's diet. For example, it is now recognized that an individual's diet during the first few years of life can have a profound effect on their growth and development and may even modulate risk for select age-related chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, obesity and heart disease. The initiation and progression of numerous diseases are also influenced by an individual's nutritional status. Faculty expertise in nutrition research is found throughout the CA&ES, as well as in the DBS and the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine and the USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center (WHNRC). Two research opportunities in human nutrition will merit special attention during the next five years.

    First, college faculty are widely recognized for their leadership in the area of developmental nutrition, especially in prenatal and early childhood nutrition. Work in these areas spans the spectrum from basic research to nutrition education programs. The college will establish a developmental nutrition center, partnered with the School of Medicine, DBS and WHNRC faculty. An emerging area in the field of developmental nutrition is the study of the influence of diet on age-related diseases. The college will act to increase its research and training programs in the area of epigenetics. This research direction represents a new and important direction for the campus genomics initiative.

    A second area of research and teaching emphasis will be international nutrition, including the identification and quantification of nutritional disorders in developing countries, the development of novel programs for improving the nutritional status of entire populations, and the development and evaluation of foods and diets which are high in nutritional quality. A strategic goal for the college over the next five years will be to position its current Program in International Nutrition (PIN) as a UC-Systemwide ORU for international nutrition research. Key to this area will be the development of new foods and food products with increased concentrations of essential nutrients, or with improved bioavailabilities. The CA&ES genomics initiative is essential to this area of research.
  • Environment and Human Health
    Human health risk assessment is dependent in part upon an understanding of the extent of toxicant exposure. Further, the mechanisms underlying a toxicant's effects must be identified. Recent advances in molecular genetic technologies present opportunities for establishing new paradigms about how human health is affected by the environment. With such technologies it becomes feasible to ask questions about the role of genetic susceptibility in causing a response to environmental agents.

    Genetic approaches are not limited to human health - they also must be studied in the context of control of ecosystem integrity and sustainability. A key direction in this area for the college during the next five years will be to foster research to better sense and measure environmental exposures. This will enable the characterization of the interplay between genetics and exposure to environmental contaminants. Importantly, the development of new early-warning methods will allow for early intervention to minimize negative impacts, particularly for sensitive populations.
  • Social and Economic Development
    A rapidly growing and diversifying population makes California an exceptional laboratory for studies of social, economic and health problems. Important areas for research include the consequences of immigration, the food habits and nutritional needs of changing populations, and economic development strategies for high unemployment and resource-dependent areas. The college will strengthen its research programs regarding farmworker and immigrant populations, the community impacts of technological and social change, and the characteristics of the agricultural-urban interface. To strengthen campus programs relating to family interactions, community diversity, and human health and development throughout the lifespan, the college supports establishment of a Center for Family and Human Development. This center was called for in the 1998 report of the Provost's Advisory Council for the Social Sciences.
  • Human Perceptions and Choices
    Preferences and perceptions are critical in food, lifestyle, family and economic choices. UC Davis is strengthening its research linking human perception and choice to the physical properties of food and fiber products. During the next five years, the college will advance research on consumer behavior concerning selection of commodities, environmental standards and public policies.

Faculty recruitment priorities

The current faculty strength available in the college and campus is such that many of the above opportunity areas can be aggressively pursued. There are, however, a small number of new positions that need to be filled if we are to address these issues with alacrity. We envision two new positions over the next three years that are both related to the campus genomics initiative.

  1. epigenetics - this individual will focus on the influence of a person's early environment on his/her later susceptibility to chronic disease.
  2. nutrition toxicology

This individual will focus on the influence of nutritional status and genetic background on an individual's susceptibility to environmental stressors. Both individuals will be trained in molecular and developmental biology.

Other positions will augment areas in epidemiology and household economic behavior related to nutrition and health. We envision that these positions will be filled through replacements or redirections of positions vacated through retirements. Positions that also will strengthen this initiative are those in the genomics area that develop new animal or plant foods with enhanced nutritional quality.

Specific implementation strategy

Within a two-year time frame, new training and research grants will be submitted in each of the above five areas. The college also will move to establish centers in quot;Food Safetyquot; and quot;Developmental Nutritionquot; during the next two years. These centers will be developed in coordination with the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. Furthermore the college will support the establishment of a campus Center for Family and Human Development.

To catalyze the above activities, the CA&ES will seek to recruit the positions described above in the near future. These individuals will participate in the promulgation of the centers described above. Improvements in the Food Science Pilot Plant will be given a high priority as it is a central facility that will serve two of the above centers.

Opportunities for undergraduate and graduate education

Undergraduate programs in the above academic areas are already heavily subscribed. Given the heavy student enrollment in these areas, it is anticipated that the amount of I&R associated with these programs will need to increase. In additions, because it is anticipated that enrollment pressures in these areas will continue to increase, the college has a responsibility to raise the criteria for admittance into these programs. This will be done over the next five year period.

We will aggressively work to develop and submit both undergraduate and graduate student training grants. An emphasis will be the development of a NSF training grant that increases the science literacy of students in the humanities.

Agricultural and Environmental Sensing and Informatics

In the last several years, a variety of tools have been developed to better describe physical, chemical and biological components of the environment, from small (millimeter) to large (kilometer) scales. For example, sensors and methods developed at Davis make it possible to measure turgor pressure in plant cells, soil strength from a moving tractor, and vegetation status from space. Much of this data collection is both non-destructive and remote, making real-time transmission back to a research laboratory possible. Informatics forms the back-bone of data acquisition and management systems, including digital libraries, geographic information systems, and image analysis tools, which, when coupled with the accurate recording of spatial and temporal information using global positioning systems, enables analysis of spatial patterns and time series data at multiple resolutions. Furthermore, these data can be used in the construction of sophisticated mathematical and statistical models which build upon our scientific understanding of individual to system-level phenomena. Solidification of our programs in sensing sciences will serve to underpin multiple campus and state programs.

Programmatic Strengths and Opportunities

College faculty who work in the area of sensing technology development are widely recognized for their advancements in the field. This research has had direct application to production agriculture, where recent advances in geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and variable rate technologies have made it possible to optimize resources while minimizing environmental impacts. Similar approaches are being used to map and manage natural resources. The continued development of our research programs in these areas is consistent with the campus initiatives in the environment, computation science and engineering, and quantitative social science.

Consistent with recommendations in the environment initiative, the college supports recruitment of new FTE in sensing and informatics. Positions in these areas will further the objectives of college initiatives related to agricultural systems and water and watersheds.

Similarly, consistent with the Quantitative Social Science Initiative, we will strengthen our research programs in quot;Modeling-GIS-multivariate statistics,quot; as well as in quot;Applied spatial statistics or GIS.quot; This will be critically important for the support of strong programs in numerous college departments. Simultaneously, these programs will enhance cross-college ties with programs in the School of Engineering, the Division of Biological Sciences, Math and Physical Sciences and the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Faculty recruitment priorities

Given the campus-wide importance of sensing and informatics, it is anticipated that four-to-six new positions will be forthcoming in these areas. Within the next five years, there should be retirements across campus which are redirected to meet this long-term research need. In addition to positions located solely in the college, we will work with other units on campus to develop joint appointments using both new and redirected positions. The immediate priorities for the college will be to address the positions relating to the environmental sciences and precision agriculture.

Specific implementation strategy

The dean will establish and blue ribbon committee to develop a mechanism for the coordination of sensing technology development and application. As one charge, this committee will consider the possible establishment of a center under the umbrella of the John Muir Institute of the Environment. It is anticipated that this committee will file its report within one year of its appointment.

The college will support the establishment of a campus-wide Center for Image Processing and Integrated Computing as described in the Computation Science and Engineering Initiative. This should be done within the next three years.

Given the potential broad applications of sensing and informatics to agricultural, urban and wild lands, we will aggressively work to increase the use of these technologies within California. This will be a major charge to CE faculty in the appropriate departments. We will increase our partnership with industry to develop extramural funding opportunities to support this work.

Opportunities for undergraduate and graduate education

The demand for student training in this area is immense at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, as evidenced by the Geographic Information Systems minor. During the next five-year period, new courses to be developed will utilize the Real-Time Educational Monitoring of the Environment (REMOTE) project and the extensive real-time data available for the Bodega Marine Laboratory, the UC Natural Reserve System and other sources. In addition, during the next five-year period, graduate programs or program emphasis in the area of sensing and informatics will be developed.

Science, the Public and Governmental Policy

Our faculty has a strong commitment to conducting high-quality research and the communication of the results of this research to the general public, to relevant constituency groups, and to governmental policy-makers. While the faculty generally succeed at a very high level in terms of research quality, the same is often not true for the communication of those results to non-academics. One of the assumptions underlying the opportunity area described below is that adding a few key faculty positions with a research and teaching focus on specific aspects of the science-to-policy process will provide substantial benefit to all faculty engaged in this process.

Programmatic Strengths and Opportunities

Current college strengths in this opportunity area can be broadly separated into three categories. First, college faculty perform a significant amount of high-quality research that has direct relevance to the public at large. Much of the applied research conducted by our faculty can have an immediate impact on society at many levels. Second, the college has an extensive outreach education network (Cooperative Extension) that functions to transmit research results to the public. In addition, this network serves as a means for the public to inform the campus of its research needs. Third, over the past five years the college, in concert with the campus, has developed a number of strong undergraduate programs - particularly Science and Society (SAS) - that emphasize the role of science in everyday life. Collectively, these three strengths provide the environment in which a new program in science, the public and governmental policy can be successfully launched. Over the next five years, we envision the development of the following four areas.

  • Risk Perception and Analysis
    This area will focus on how different social groups - whether disciplines/professions, types of organizations, ethnic/cultural groups, genders - perceive different types of risk and the effects these perceptions have on important private and governmental decisions. Such perceptions are critical to a wide variety of issues, including genetically-altered foods, food additives, pesticides, biodiversity, and toxic chemicals.
  • Science, the Public, and Policy
    This area will address the overall process by which scientific information is utilized by the general public, specific constituency groups and governmental decision-makers. It will deal with
    • variations in different groups' perceptions of the legitimacy of science versus other forms of knowledge
    • the design of institutions/programs to foster more effective two-way communication among competing scientists involved in public disputes, as well as between scientists and various publics
    • the strategies utilized by different governmental institutions to incorporate scientific information in their decision processes
    • a variety of issues involved with the democratization of highly technical policy issues
  • Ethics and Science
    This area will focus on the systematic study and teaching of ethical dimensions relevant to scientific developments and their applications in such fields as agriculture, environment, health and genomics. A particular aim will be to ensure that both scientific issues and cultural values have a place in the center of discussions on risks and benefits of scientific developments and on the interactions of private and public institutions in those developments. Research in this area will compare multiple ethical perspectives on questions related to participation, decision making, equity and sharing of information.
  • Science and Technology Management
    This area will focus on the legal, social and economic impacts of changes in science, technology and governmental efforts to manage them. It will deal with such issues as alternative institutional arrangements for funding scientific research and related technology development (including public-private partnerships, patents and other forms of intellectual property protections and contractual arrangements), procedures for evaluating the risks and benefits of new technologies and strategies for fostering the diffusion of technological innovations from R&D organizations to small firms and consumers. These issues are critical in numerous sectors, including biotechnology, new chemicals, informatics and communications, transportation and energy.

Faculty recruitment priorities

This initiative for science, the public and governmental policy represents a new focus of research on the campus. Over the next five-year period, a minimum of four positions should be tightly linked to the above programmatic areas. The two positions of most immediate need are

  1. Risk Perception and Analysis
  2. Science, the Public and Policy

Since this initiative addresses issues that relate most strongly to the college's AES mission, all four positions will be filled through the redirection of future retirements. Consideration will be given to early release of one or more of the positions where there is a demonstrated need for immediate action.

Specific implementation strategy

The college will develop a Center for Science, Society and Policy. The center will function to:

Stimulate collaborative research between scholars in science and policy studies, particularly in the areas of genomics, ecology, medicine, food science and environmental toxicants. It is highly desirable that science policy research projects contain both social scientists knowledgeable about social processes, and natural scientists with a firm understanding of the scientific issues involved.

Establish a provocative seminar series that fosters discussion of issues surrounding science, society and policy. This series would build upon existing informal organizations. It will provide an opportunity to greatly expand the number of faculty involved in these discussions, and to include political leaders from Sacramento.

Increase cooperation between the teaching programs in SAS and the History and Philosophy of Science. The center will also provide assistance to the undergraduate major in science and technology studies when it is implemented.

With the above charge, the Center in Science, Society and Policy will be distinguished from the Agricultural Issues Center in that it will not be specifically focused on agricultural policy issues. Furthermore, it will be distinguished from the Institute of Governmental Affairs in that it will strongly encourage multidisciplinary collaborations between natural and social scientists. To ensure the long-term viability of this center, faculty associated with it will develop multiple center grant applications over the next three years.

Opportunities for undergraduate and graduate education

The development of the above areas of research will serve to increase UC Davis' competitiveness for undergraduate and graduate students in the social sciences. The faculty recruited in these areas will participate in college and campus-wide teaching programs in the areas described above. Under this umbrella would be the current courses offered through Science and Society and the History and Philosophy of Science.

Cooperative Extension and Outreach

The college brings the university's scientific and problem-solving resources to the public in several ways. CE specialists and advisors provide a network that helps the public and private industry investigate and solve their problems. CE also conveys to campus researchers, researchable issues that our clientele have identified. CE is recognized as a leading force in agriculture and has long-standing programs that address environmental, human, and community issues. Outreach efforts are supported by AES researchers who are committed to public service through various educational and advisory activities. Additionally, non-degree classes are made available to the public through University Extension (UNEX) and CE. Finally, our students represent a valuable resource to the public, private industry, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations in the State, through their service as interns, undergraduates working on class projects and, ultimately, as employees.

Our objectives for the future are to maintain the college's programs that aid the public in solving their problems in our traditional subject areas and to strengthen programs in areas related to the environment and human health and well-being. For example, CE and AES efforts in information dissemination and problem solving research can be coordinated through a Research and Information Center (RIC). The college RICs for vegetable crops, orchard crops and other commodities have pioneered Web-based access to research-based information. Additional RICs, particularly in areas of the environment and human health and well-being, could be especially useful in coordinating the efforts of specialists and researchers working across the college. Furthermore, college centers that focus primarily on research should expand their activities to include extension. Both RICs and research centers should provide information to governmental agencies and legislative bodies that would benefit from research-based information.

Finally, since their 1988 incorporation into academic departments, CE specialists increasingly are affected by and have a stake in campus governance. Many CE specialists are involved in academic instruction by providing guest lectures, leading field trips, serving as major professors for M.S. and Ph.D. candidates, or serving as academic advisors. Some have filled critical gaps in departmental teaching programs and assumed major roles in resident instruction. The college must continue to work toward the full integration of CE specialists into their academic departments to enhance the continuum in research, teaching and extension and should, in appropriate cases, support partial I&R appointments.



Teaching Programs

College educational efforts are built upon academic research programs such that the most current knowledge is brought to the classroom. The key objectives of our teaching programs are to instill

  • a mode of critical thinking that is both analytical and integrative
  • an understanding of ethical issues involved in the conduct of science
  • an appreciation for diversity in thought and collaborative problem solving
  • a commitment to lifelong learning
  • a commitment to improving students oral and written communication skills

The college initiatives that are described in this plan were chosen, in part, for the strong teaching programs that will be generated in these areas. At both the undergraduate and graduate levels, training in the research themes which are covered under initiative areas will result in students prepared with advanced technical expertise and the broad knowledge base that they will need to be competitive throughout their lives.

To illustrate the above, students who will train in the area of genomics will gain the technical expertise that is demanded by private industry, and given the integrated nature of the programs, they will be able to enter genomics research at multiple organismal levels ranging from plants to humans. At the same time, students will gain an appreciation for society's concerns and risk perception. The cumulative education that these students will receive will also prepare them for positions in government regulatory agencies as well as private foundations that focus on policy issues and human health.

To ensure that these educational objectives are met, a strategic goal of the college will be to obtain undergraduate and graduate training grants that incorporate training rotations through both industry and government agencies as a compliment to their university education. The above training rotations will compliment the extensive mentoring between individual faculty members and their students that already exists in our college. It is anticipated that these grants will be obtained through a combination of government, private foundations and industry partnerships. We anticipate that there will be a minimum of one training grant associated with each initiative area within three years. We will charge the college associate deans with this responsibility.

The college has a strong commitment to training M.S. and Ph.D. candidates, as well as postdoctoral fellows. One of the greatest challenges facing graduate education today is its high cost. This is an issue that must be addressed on all campuses. Our approach to this problem will be to aggressively seek increased funding for our students. First, we will continue to pursue traditional sources of extramural funding and endowments, but with some innovative thrusts. For example, we will set out to significantly increase the number of individual pre-doctoral and postdoctoral training grants. This will be done through the creation of quarterly college-wide workshops in grant writing.

In addition to developing funding sources, these workshops will provide our students with the practical knowledge of grant writing. To ensure success in this area, we will launch this effort in coordination with the Office of Research. In addition to our traditional approaches towards obtaining graduate student funding, we will capitalize on the opportunities that will be presented by the new college initiatives. For example, in the agriculture, environment and human health initiative, we will develop a new food safety center. This center will play a central role in drawing industry, as well as government funding, to support student training in areas ranging from the safety of genetically modified organisms to microbial contamination of foods. The magnet that will draw new funding to this initiative area is its integrative nature and the fact we will produce students that will be the decision-makers in tomorrow's industries. Similar properties characterize the other four initiatives.

During the next five-year period, we will explore the concept that some of the centers proposed among the college initiatives should become the intellectual home of a current, or new, graduate group. This would be done after a given center had established a strong financial base in its research and teaching activities. In principle, if a graduate group were to be under the umbrella of a center, it should result in an improved financial support base for that group and its students. In addition, it could provide an improved nexus for administrative and faculty support. An additional strength of this approach is that it would help to solve the dilemma of identifying faculty for key course offerings.

Providing international opportunities for our students is an important part of their educational experience. Steps now being taken in this direction include adding study abroad opportunities, extensive visits by scholars from abroad, Postgraduate Certificate Programs, and the Peace Corps Masters Program and sandwich-Ph.D. programs initiated by the CA&ES-Office of International Programs. We will facilitate the applications of exceptionally well qualified foreign students to our graduate programs, and we will pursue partnerships to support an active international exchange of students and faculty.

Public Education

To meet its broader educational goals, the college will participate in campus initiatives related to on-line education. Toward this goal, the college could contribute uniquely through its connection with county CE offices that could function as public access points. The college will also act to enhance the understanding of the linkages between public knowledge of, and experiences with, agricultural and environmental issues, and provide leadership in formal and informal learning and teaching processes, including K-12.

The college stands committed to enriching the educational experiences of students within the entire California system of higher education through collaborative educational projects and programs. Thus, the college will continue to work with California Community colleges to ensure proper articulation of courses, and with the California State University system to identify opportunities for collaboration on undergraduate courses as called for in the recommendations of the 1999 Kellogg Foundation report.

Centers and Mechanisms for Integration with Other Programs

Within this document, we specifically call for the development of a number of new centers. Centers have proven critical to the promulgation of numerous innovative research programs and outreach efforts on our campus. These centers have, as a consequence, significantly improved the effectiveness and visibility of our campus in certain areas (e.g., the Center for Ecological Health). We recognize that some of the centers that already exist within the college are not performing as envisioned. One strategic objective of the college during the next year will be to perform a comprehensive evaluation of all centers that are currently supported by college resources (financial, space or human). Key to the evaluation of the centers will be the consideration of their actual contribution to the college and campus, and their sustainability exclusive of intramural funding. The college executive associate dean, using criteria that are developed following consultation with the Dean's Council, department chairs and the Office of Research, will carry out the evaluation.

In constructing new centers, a governing principle will be that they should assist in the coordination of interdisciplinary activities. Furthermore, it is envisioned that within a five year period, all centers will be linked in hierarchical systems that advance broad campus objectives. For example, it is envisioned that several college centers will be administratively coordinated under the umbrella of the John Muir Institute of the Environment. This model will be one of the vehicles by which the college will respond to recommendations in the Kellogg Foundation report regarding the coordination of water and natural resources activities.

In addition to centers, the college has multiple interactions with other segments of the campus. For example the college has particularly strong linkages with numerous colleges, schools and ORUs. Complementing these interactions, our faculty is extensively involved in national and international programs in agriculture, environment and health. Given the cross-cutting nature of the campus initiatives, and the fact that they reach into multiple colleges and schools, during the next 10 years, we will give increasing emphasis to the recruitment of faculty who will have joint appointments in the college and other campus units. To improve our interactions with non-UC faculty, a strategic goal of the college over the next five years will be to identify outstanding scholars who would be eligible for adjunct appointments within the college. A process for accomplishing this will be developed by the Dean's Council in consultation with the vice provost's office.




Some core facility needs are described above as they relate to specific college initiatives. In addition to these needs, there are a number of pressing facility concerns which must be addressed over the next 10-year period to maintain the quality of our core programs. Regrettably, the breadth and depth of this problem is immense. For example, the college recognizes the need to develop new special facilities that support applied genomics research, to renew outdated animal and plant growth facilities that are integral to biological research, and to modernize much of the research space occupied by CA&ES departments. For this reason, during the 1999-00 academic year, the college will appoint a committee to carry out an in-depth evaluation of facility needs. As part of this evaluation, the committee will make recommendations as to how we can maximize our building resources such that they can be used for integrated functions that provide exciting new capabilities. For example, we will consider the development of environmental research facilities that simultaneously provide experimental animal housing. Another charge to the committee will be to prioritize the order in which facility needs will be met. A final charge to the committee will be to create a comprehensive development plan that will result in a re-invigorated infrastructure.

In the immediate future, there will be an evaluation regarding the potential merging of some college departments. Clearly this would have significant ramifications for building occupancy and refurbishment. A driving principle that the college will have in the possible reorganization of departments will be that similar programs and research themes should be collocated when possible to maximize facility utilization and intellectual interaction. The planning committee will be charged with taking the above into consideration.



Staff Training and Support

The CA&ES adheres to the principle that a highly competent and professional staff support system is essential to meeting the academic mission. As described in the 1999 Chancellor's Staff Workload Taskforce Report, the staff are a critical component of our core strength and investing in them is essential to meeting our future demands in teaching, research and outreach. At the same time, the employment environment continues to evolve dramatically in response to increased delegation of processes to departments; increased demand for technological and analytical skills to provide required scientific and administrative support; and the projected growth of students and faculty that is likely to further increase already heavy workload demands. We intend to address this in our planning process by assigning current resources as necessary and using new support resources appropriately to underpin the recruitment, training, appropriate classification and retention of the staff. Embodied in the CA&ES commitment is also our continued dedication to provide leadership and management training for department chairs, MSOs, faculty and staff supervisors. Enhanced central resources will be necessary to complement the efforts of schools and colleges to support an appropriate staffing structure, and we urge a concomitant campus commitment to that effort.

Student News

Design It, Build It

Aug 21, 2015 Truscott donation allows landscape architecture students to dig in.

Student News - More Student News…
Research News

UC Davis Receives Unique, $1.5 Million Gift from Aggie Couple

Jul 07, 2016 Michael and Joelle Hurlston have pledged $1.5 million to endow a first-of-its-kind chair position.

Research News - More Research News…
Outreach News

Summer Internships

Jul 28, 2015 CA&ES students and Salinas Valley employers find common ground.

Outreach News - More Outreach News…
Web Editors

Content in this section is managed by Robin DeRieux. If you have any suggestions or need something changed, please contact her at