CA&ES Currents Newsletter  icon newspaper

July 12, 2002

Jun 05, 2014 admin

A Message from Dean Neal Van Alfen: Biological Diversity

Biological diversity -- or biodiversity -- is the term given to the variety of life on Earth and the natural patterns it forms. The biodiversity we see today is the fruit of billions of years of evolution, shaped by natural processes and, increasingly, by the influence of humans. It forms the web of life of which we are an integral part and upon which we so fully depend. Biodiversity is a major program of research within CA&ES. It is highly integrative, involving collaborations across disciplines within the agricultural and environmental sciences. Our college faculty track biodiversity through numerous collections of plants, animals and microorganisms. Biological collections include the UC Davis Arboretum (4,000 types of trees and plants), the Bohart Museum of Entomology (6 million specimens), the Museum of Wildlife and Fisheries Biology (2,700 fish, 4,000 birds, 3,500 mammals), the Phaff Yeast Culture Collection (6,000 strains), the UC Davis Herbarium (250,000 plant specimens), and the UC Davis Nematode Collection (53,000 specimens). These impressive collections represent a “library” system for researchers examining the web of life. By cataloging and storing this knowledge about the Earth, our scientists join others worldwide in understanding biodiversity. So far, about 1.75 million species have been identified, mostly small creatures such as insects. Scientists reckon many, many more unidentified species exist. It is the combination of life forms and their interactions with each other and with the rest of the environment that has made Earth a uniquely habitable place for humans. Biodiversity provides a large number of goods and services that sustain our lives. Thus, it is important for the college to continually improve our collections to assure that they meet the needs of our educational, research and outreach programs. To this end, we have begun planning for a new facility to house these collections.

Neal K. Van Alfen
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
[email protected]

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Carole Meredith Sheds Light on Zinfandel
Carole Meredith, professor in the viticulture and enology department, was featured in a Los Angeles Times story on the origins of Zinfandel, California’s signature grape. It comes from Croatia. The grape called Zinfandel and the grape the Italians call Primitivo is actually the Croatian grape known as Crljenak kasteljanski. Using DNA profiling techniques, Meredith and two Croatian scientists, Ivan Pejic and Edi Maletic, discovered in December 2001 that Zinfandel and an indigenous Croatian grape called Crljenak are one and the same. Meredith delivered a presentation at the Conference on American Zinfandel in Rohnert Park, Calif., on June 15. Meredith is also working on a paper to be published in the Journal of Enology and Viticulture.

Carole Meredith
Department of Viticulture and Enology
[email protected]
(530) 752-7535

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Jim MacDonald Elected APS Vice President
Jim MacDonald, CA&ES executive associate dean, was recently elected vice president of the American Phytopathological Society (APS). MacDonald is also a professor in the plant pathology department with a courtesy appointment in the environmental horticulture department. The election begins a series of advancements through the governing body of the APS that will culminate in MacDonald becoming president in two years. MacDonald has taught courses in mycology and plant disease diagnosis in the plant pathology department, and gives guest lectures in environmental horticulture on topics relating to diseases of nursery, landscape and turf crops. His research emphasizes root diseases, soil microbiology, diseases of ornamentals and the role of environmental stress in plant disease.

American Phytopathological Society

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John Randall on Good and Bad Bugs
John Randall, associate professor in the vegetable crops department and director of the Wildland Invasive Species Team, was quoted in the New York Times on his role in helping eradicate an insect from the Mianus River Gorge Preserve in New York. Since the early 1990s, a type of parasitic insect, a small aphid called the woolly adelgid, has been eating its way through the hemlocks at the preserve. Randall’s Invasive Species Team reviewed the situation at Mianus River Gorge Preserve and in June 2000 decided to release Japanese ladybird beetles -- the adelgid's natural enemy in its native Japan.

More information is availableonline

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Carl Winter on Carbohydrate Risks
Carl Winter, director of the UC Davis FoodSafe Program, discussed with the San Francisco Chronicle the carcinogenic issues involving French fries and carbohydrates. The carcinogen, known as acrylamide, is believed to be created in food by a chemical reaction between carbohydrates and heat. French fries and potato chips are believed to be the most susceptible because they are usually deep-fried at high temperatures. The darker the fry or the chip, the higher the concentration of acrylamides.

Read thefull article

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David Rizzo Updates Sudden Oak Disease
David Rizzo, associate professor in the plant pathology department, talked about the latest scientific evidence behind Sudden Oak Death during an invasive species symposium at UC Davis in June. The San Jose Mercury News quoted Rizzo as saying that Sudden Oak Death “is more widespread in infected areas than previously thought, raising fresh concerns about whether it will be possible to contain the deadly disease.” Rizzo is collaborating with UC Berkeley forest pathologist Matteo Garbelotto on research involving Sudden Oak Death.

Details availableonline

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Michael Reid to Chair Post-harvest Conference
Michael Reid, professor in the environmental horticulture department, will chair the 10th Gordon Research Conference on Post-harvest Physiology at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, on Aug. 4-9. The Gordon Research Conferences were founded to explore emerging frontiers and to foster a collegial atmosphere among researchers. Post-harvest physiology is the study of factors affecting the marketing life of fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers. Reid has studied how to improve the post-harvest life of ornamental plants, particularly cut flowers and potted plants. Recent research has included investigating ways to overcome the negative effects of ethylene, a common air pollutant produced by vehicle exhaust.

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Dirk Van Vuren on the War Against Gophers
Dirk Van Vuren, professor in the wildlife, fish and conservation biology department, told the Los Angeles Times that scientific evidence does not exist indicating that barn owls can completely control a farmer’s rodent or gopher problem, as some San Joaquin farmers are attempting. Van Vuren said owls are a step in the right direction, but should be used in combination with other measures. “Personally, I think what makes the whole thing worthwhile is that farmers are providing habitat for wildlife," he said.

Read the full articleonline

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Rick Melnicoe and Farmer Pesticide Use
Rick Melnicoe, director of the Western Region Pest Management Center, said most farmers don’t knowingly violate pesticide regulations. The Modesto Bee quoted Melnicoe, a former state pesticide regulator, as saying, “I personally don’t believe that many owners of businesses or farmers would (violate) consciously because of the liability risk. Nobody wants a worker to be hurt.”

More information availableonline

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Andre Lauchli Authors Book on Plant Salinity
Andre Lauchli, associate vice chancellor for research and professor in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, recently published a 552-page book on plants and salinity. Titled “Salinity: Environment, Plants, Molecules,” the book addresses plants’ responses to salinity. Although salinity is a common environmental factor for marine organisms, for the majority of land plants, high soil salinity is an environmental constraint that limits growth, productivity and normal plant functions. The publisher is Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Andre Lauchli
Associate Vice Chancellor for Research
Department of Land, Air and Water Resources
[email protected]
(530) 754-5730

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Subscribe to the Plant Management Network
All UC Davis faculty, staff and students are eligible to subscribe to the Plant Management Network, a new online resource for plant science and agricultural information. CA&ES is a participating partner in the Plant Management Network, which offers a searchable database indexing thousands of Web-based pages from the networks of partner universities, companies and associations. The network also provides two peer-reviewed journals, Plant Health Progress and Crop Management. The Plant Management Network subject matter includes agronomy, entomology, soil science, forestry, ecology, urban forestry, plant pathology, crop science, horticulture, weed science, nematology, toxicology, plant protection, economics, diagnostics, environmental science, public policy and engineering.

Check out thePlant Management Network
Register for the networkonline

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Impact Statements Now Online
CA&ES is now publishing Impact Statements highlighting how college research makes a difference to California and its citizens. The first issue describes the impact of the Tahoe Research Group. In 1967, CA&ES established the Tahoe Research Group headed by Professor Charles Goldman, Department of Environmental Science and Policy. Through the years, the Tahoe Research Group has played a major role in restoring the lake through the banning of dumped sewage into the lake, enacting strict building, pollution and erosion controls, and establishing water-quality thresholds.

Read theImpact Statement on Lake Tahoe research

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UCTV Comes to Davis
UCTV will now be carried every night from 8-11 p.m. on Sacramento cable channel 72 and Davis cable channel 14. In the month of July, these two local cable channels will feature the following 30-minute documentaries involving UC Davis: "Tahoe: Reservoir of History, Body of Hope” on July 14 at 9 p.m., and "Frontiers: Research Explorations in Veterinary Medicine,” July 16 at 8:30 p.m. and July 21 at 9 p.m. The goal of UCTV is to provide the public with informational, educational and enrichment programming. It delivers documentaries, faculty lectures, cutting-edge research symposiums and artistic performances from the 10 UC campuses.

UCTV Online

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Biotechnology Workshop
The Center for Engineering Plants for Resistance Against Pathogens (CEPRAP) hosted the 2002 Biotechnology Teacher Institute on campus July 9-12. During the weeklong workshop, teachers explored current topics in biotechnology with researchers and industry professionals, engaged in hands-on experiments, discussed bioethics, and toured university lab facilities. Founded in 1991, CEPRAP focuses on research to understand the genetic basis for a plant's ability to resist pest attack and to use the tools of modern biotechnology to enhance those abilities in food crops. The teacher institute arose from a partnership with the Southern Agricultural Biotechnology Consortium for Underserved Communities. Workshop participants include high school teachers from counties in Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina and Georgia.


Barbara Soots
Education Coordinator
Center for Engineering Plants for Resistance Against Pathogens
[email protected]
(530) 752-6552

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Nominations for Awards of Distinction
The deadline to receive nominations for the 2002 Awards of Distinction is June 30. The designation is the highest presented by the college to individuals whose contributions and achievements enrich the image and reputation of the college and enhance its ability to provide public service. The awards will be presented Oct. 18 at the annual College Celebration. The Award of Distinction program has been expanded this year to include new categories. Nominations may be made in these areas:

  • General (alumni, family, friend of the college)
  • Young alumni (less than 15 years since last degree)
  • Outstanding faculty/extension specialist
  • Outstanding staff

Deadline: Aug. 15


Sharon E. Lynch

Assistant Director for Relations

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

[email protected]

(530) 752-1602


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Op-ed Writing Assistance Available


Faculty members often like to share their knowledge on a broad range of public issues in the form of opinion articles. Clifton Parker, Dean's Office senior writer, works with op-ed authors to sharpen arguments, edit to an appropriate length and identify possible publications. Here are a few tips -- "take a stand, keep it short, use everyday language and think about structure." Contact Parker for editing assistance and a two-page tip sheet on writing op-eds.


Clifton Parker

Senior Writer

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

[email protected]

(530) 752-2120


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Protecting Egyptian Antiquities


The monuments of ancient Egypt may have stood for thousands of years in the desert sands, but now they face a new threat -- rising groundwater. Ayman Ahmed of the University of Sohag, Egypt, is working with professor Graham Fogg of the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources to study the problem and find ways to solve it. Preliminary findings by Ahmed and Fogg indicate that farming, urbanization and residential housing near the temples are causing water tables to rise. When the water table rises, the groundwater comes closer to the foundations, columns and walls of the antiquities, causing structural damage. Water and salts weaken the sandstone structures. "Probably the most dangerous factors affecting the pharaonic monuments are urbanization and agricultural development," Ahmed said. Damage to the monuments has worsened in the years since completion of the Aswan dam, allowing year-round irrigation of crops instead of seasonal flooding, said Fogg. Ahmed and Fogg are using data from sites including the temples at Luxor and Karnak to build a computer model of how groundwater moves under the monuments. They hope to find ways to prevent or reduce the damage.


Check outABC News coverage


See theEnvironmental News Service coverage




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CA&ES Budget Forums


All CA&ES faculty and staff are invited to attend budget forums in July and August. Neal Van Alfen, dean of CA&ES, and other members of the Dean's Office will answer questions and explain the budget process.

Friday, July 12, noon-1 p.m., 1065 Engineering II
Friday, July 19, noon-1 p.m., 1065 Engineering II
Friday, July 26, noon-1 p.m., 1065 Engineering II
Friday, Aug. 9, noon-1 p.m., 1065 Engineering II
Friday, Aug. 23, noon-1 p.m., 1065 Engineering II
Friday, Aug. 30, noon-1 p.m., 1065 Engineering II

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Annual Rice Field Day
The Annual Rice Field Day will be held at the Rice Experiment Station in Biggs on Aug. 28. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Rice Experiment Station. Rice Field Day gives rice growers and others an opportunity to join a dialogue on recent rice research. The California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation and the University of California are co-sponsoring the event, which will run from 7:30 a.m. to noon. The Rice Experiment Station is at 955 Butte City Highway, Hwy. 162, about 2½ miles west of Hwy. 99 north of Biggs.

Rice Station website

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Western Regional Teaching Symposium
The Western Regional Teaching Symposium, an event of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, will be held at UC Davis on Sept. 13-14. About 200 faculty, extension specialists and administrators from 13 Western states are expected to attend. If you would like to make an oral presentation, please send a 150-word abstract to Annie J. King at [email protected] no later than July 19. Nominations for speakers are welcome.

More information at theWTRS website

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Retro Textiles Exhibition
The Design Museum will feature the exhibition, “Retro Hand-Printed Textiles; a Visual Remembrance from the Studios of Katherine Westphal and Ed Rossbach,” from July 15 to Sept. 27. The exhibition includes hand-printed textiles from the late 1950s to 1970s, plus a few examples of commercially printed textiles from the early '50s. The designs are the work of internationally recognized designers Katherine Westphal and husband Ed Rossbach, both of whom are credited with pioneering new approaches and techniques in the field of fiber arts. The Design Museum is at 145 Walker Hall.

Rhonda R. O'Brien
Program Representative
Department of Environmental Design
[email protected]
(530) 752-6223

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Cultivating Collaborations
The Health and Safety in Western Agriculture Conference will hold a seminar titled “Cultivating Collaborations” in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on Sept. 16-18. This conference will highlight common safety and health issues in West Coast agriculture and foster collaboration between individuals and organizations committed to agricultural injury and illness prevention. The UC Davis Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety is a co-sponsor. Registration Deadline: July 26

More information availableonline

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Arboretum Activities
The UC Davis Arboretum will feature Mediterranean-style gardening on a July 21 tour. California’s Central Valley has a Mediterranean-type climate with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. Learn about techniques to reduce water usage and to increase shaded areas. The tour begins at 10 a.m. at the Arboretum Terrace Garden next to Borders Books and Music on First Street in Davis.

Arboretum calendar

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Western Health Center Seminar
On July 17, the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety will hold a seminar, "Exposure of Hmong Highland Minority People in Thailand to Pesticides: Results to Date and Plans for Further Research.” Featured speakers include Peter Kunstadter, director, Asian Health Program at UCSF Fresno; Tippawan Prapamontol, director of the biochemistry laboratory at Chiang Mai University in Thailand. The event will be at the Foster Room, Meyer Hall from 12:10 p.m. to 1 p.m.

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Travel Fellowships
The Organization for Economic and Cooperation Development (OECD) is sponsoring travel fellowships between member countries. Fellowships are awarded under the “Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems” program. Details are available at the website below by clicking on “about” to learn more about the program and the four themes. The application form can be opened by clicking on “2003 Fellowship Campaign.” A list of approved fellowship topics for 2002 is available. OECD sponsors travel fellowships for Ph.D. scientists (or equivalent) among 26 member countries. The average fellowship is for about 12 weeks, though the range is from 2 to 26 weeks. The individuals must have a permanent position or similar post in a home laboratory to return to after the fellowship.

Details are availableonline

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We Value Your Feedback
We value your feedback and contributions on CA&ES Currents. Do you have suggestions for improvement? News and announcements?

Clifton Parker
Senior Writer
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
[email protected]
(530) 752-2120

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Visit CA&ES Currents online at

CA&ES Currents, the faculty/staff newsletter of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis, is distributed every other Friday. News deadline is noon Monday preceding Friday publication. Send inquiries to Ann Filmer, [email protected].

Issue Editor:
Clifton Parker
(530) 752-6556
[email protected]

Contributors: Donna Gutierrez, Thomas Kaiser, Susan Kancir, Rhoda McKnight, Neal Van Alfen, John Weston.

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