CA&ES Currents Newsletter  icon newspaper

July 26, 2002

Jun 05, 2014 admin

A Message from Dean Neal Van Alfen: Agricultural Experiment Station

The Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) plays a vital role in making California a good place to live. The experiment station is a major funding source for research on environmentally sustainable food, forest, ornamental, and fiber production systems for California; a safe, dependable, nutritious, diverse, and affordable food supply; and the preservation and protection of the state's natural resources. Along with CA&ES faculty research, many AES scientists collaborate with UC Cooperative Extension specialists and county-based advisors on their research and education programs. In the big picture, research and activities like these are the driving forces behind California’s $27 billion agricultural industry and worldwide leadership in the environmental sciences and stewardship. Structurally, the Agricultural Experiment Station is part of a multi-campus state-funded UC research program consisting of more than 750 scientists and 1,300 research projects at UC Davis, UC Riverside and UC Berkeley. CA&ES counts 316 of its 400 faculty receiving research support through the experiment station -- almost double the number at Riverside and Berkeley combined - with much smaller numbers elsewhere on the UC Davis campus. However, AES is at a crossroads. The experiment station represents 54 percent or $38.6 million of CA&ES’ state general fund budget -- a sizable chunk. Proposed state budget decreases to station research constitute a major challenge for this college. We’ll update faculty and staff as the state Legislature adopts its final 2002-2003 budget and our plans are made for the year ahead. The Agricultural Experiment Station dates back to 1887 when the U.S. Congress passed the Hatch Act to provide annual federal funding for stations in all the states. Over the years, the research mission of AES expanded to include the environmental sciences and human and community development. Today, the Division of the Agriculture and Natural Resources administers California’s AES through the UC President’s Office in Oakland and at the campus level by the deans of the various colleges, including myself. Within our college, most of our faculty hold joint appointments, part in the experiment station and part in campus teaching positions. AES means a great deal to our college, the UC system and California. UC Davis has become one of the world’s most prolific research institutions based in part to the Agricultural Experiment Station. Now with some of that funding at risk, we must plan for the future and CA&ES priorities as wisely as possible. We expect to emerge from this situation with a different look yet robust and dynamic as ever.

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

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Judith Stern Completes Weight Study
Professor Judith Stern, nutrition department, published research findings on weight loss in the July 24 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine. She and the co-authors noted that following the nation's dietary recommendations not only provides good nutrition but also can result in sustained loss of excess weight and improvements in other factors known to contribute to heart disease. "The study demonstrates that meeting the current dietary recommendations for eating appropriate amounts of a variety of healthy foods is an effective way to lose excess weight and maintain optimal weight," Stern said. She speculates that this will prove to be the most healthful approach to weight loss and management, compared to diet programs focused on changing the intake of a single component of the diet, such as fat or sugar.

Judith S. Stern
Department of Nutrition
[email protected]
(530) 752-6575

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Thomas Scott Spearheads Mosquito Conference
Thomas Scott, professor in the entomology department, organized the workshop, “The Ecology of Transgenic Mosquitoes,” held June 26-29 in Wageningen, the Netherlands. Twenty of the world's leading mosquito ecologists attended, the journal Science reported. Some participants said that although lab science might be thriving, huge ecological questions remain about transgenic mosquitoes. The group outlined a sweeping ecological research agenda, ranging from baseline population genetics to an emergency plan in case the transgenic critters run amok. Scott noted that many of these issues have been deferred or overlooked by the molecular biologists developing the disease-fighting mosquitoes.

More information available inScience Magazine online

Thomas Scott
Department of Entomology
[email protected]
(530) 754-4196

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Harold Olmo Wins Grape and Gourmet Award
The California State Fair awarded the Grape and Gourmet Lifetime Achievement Award to Harold Olmo on July 23. This distinction is presented to an individual who has contributed to the wine industry’s promotion and growth. Olmo is the first academician selected for the award. In 1934, Olmo joined UC Davis as a faculty member in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, a position he held until his retirement in 1977. Olmo initiated some of the earliest clonal selection work using cuttings of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Kunde family's award-winning Sonoma County Vineyards.

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Charles Rick Honored at Colloquium
The late Charles Rick, professor emeritus in the vegetable crops department, will be honored in September. Rick made important contributions to the study of genetics and evolution through his research on the tomato. On Sept. 27 from 6 to 8 p.m., a wine and cheese reception will be held at 8 Parkside Drive in Davis. On Sept. 28 at 9:30 a.m., colleagues and former students of Rick’s will make presentations at the colloquium, "Genomics according to the Gospel of C. M. Rick, a memorial colloquium organized by his disciples.” The event takes place at 3 Kleiber Hall on the UC Davis campus.

UC Davis Vegetable & Research Information Center

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Robert Page on Killer Bees
Robert Page, professor and chair of the entomology department, discussed in the Los Angeles Times why African “killer” bees are such formidable insects. In California, hives of Africanized honeybees -- as scientists call them because they are the product of interbreeding between European bees and a group of more aggressive African bees inadvertently released in Brazil during the 1950s -- have now been found beyond Porterville in the San Joaquin Valley. Page's team, among others, has tracked the bees into the San Joaquin Valley. He expects them to continue trekking northward. The march has slowed, although no one is sure exactly why.

More information is availableonline

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Greg McPherson and Shade Trees in Davis
Greg McPherson, research scientist at the Center for Urban Forest Research in CA&ES, told the Davis Enterprise that one of the most attractive things about the city of Davis’s tree plan is its ability to set in place a serious energy conservation process that is low-cost and relatively easy to maintain. "If we don't invest in energy-conserving trees, they will not be available in 15 years when the demand for energy will be even greater," he said.

Read the full articlehere

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Christine Bruhn Develops Food Safety Brochure
Christine Bruhn, director of the Center for Consumer Research, and colleagues have created an illustrated, multi-panel brochure titled, “Safe-handling of Fruits and Vegetables.” The four-color brochure presents consumers with practical information for avoiding cross-contamination. Contact Bruhn for copies.

Christine Bruhn
Center for Consumer Research
[email protected]
(530) 752-2774

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CA&ES News Goes Online
Please bookmark the CA&ES Web site link for the latest news involving the college. The Communications Unit in the CA&ES Dean’s Office will provide new content on a regular basis. The section also includes CA&ES Currents archives, CA&ES Impact, and CA&ES Outlook, the alumni magazine. Contact Clifton Parker with any story ideas.

Bookmark theCA&ES Publications section

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

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Communications Unit Receives Awards
The CA&ES Communications Unit in the Dean’s Office won three awards in the 14th annual Awards for Publication Excellence: A Competition for Communications Professionals. Known as the “APEX” 2002 Awards, these selections are based on excellence in graphic design, editorial content, and overall communications. The Communications Unit won awards of excellence in the categories, “Newsletters, Online and Electronic,” “One to Two Person-Produced Web and Intranet Sites,” and “Total Publication Programs.” The panel of judges reviewed 5,863 entries in 11 major categories.

Apex Awards online

Rhoda McKnight
Director of Communications
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
[email protected]
(530) 752-9328

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Public Health Initiative
A new multidisciplinary public health initiative that would tap into UC Davis’ strengths across a spectrum of fields ranging from medicine to agriculture is being considered. One piece of the initiative is the Contained Research Facility, recently constructed on Hopkins Road and scheduled to open in early 2003. It includes greenhouses and laboratories where scientists will study pests, disease-causing organisms and genetically modified plants. "Through the Contained Research Facility and related efforts, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will be able to play a significant role in the Public Health Initiative," said Neal Van Alfen, dean of the college. "With this new facility, our researchers will apply basic principles of epidemiology to plants as they work to monitor new and existing diseases and pests that threaten the nation’s food supply."

More information is availableonline
Check out theDavis Enterprise article

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African Americans and Diabetes
In focus groups with African American adults, the UC Health Promotion Workgroup found that food preferences, family pressure and lack of social support were most often perceived as obstacles to improving dietary habits in order to prevent diabetes. Obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and the rate is significantly higher among blacks (as well as Latinos and Native Americans) than whites. However, in a peer-reviewed research article published in the July-August 2002 issue of California Agriculture, UC scientists found that African American focus group participants believed poor dietary patterns, rather than body weight itself, are the most important factor in the high diabetes rate.

Read thefull article

Lucia Kaiser
Community Nutrition Specialist
Department of Nutrition
[email protected]
(530) 754-9063

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4-H’s New Mission
The California 4-H Youth Development is emphasizing the connection between research and practice in its new mission statement. Involving youth in research is now viewed as significant to that organization’s goals as practice. Statewide director Carole MacNeil says, “We’re not saying that research is more important than practice – or that practice is more important than research. We’re saying – and the revised mission statement was designed specifically to try to capture this – that these two things are mutually beneficial and have to go hand-in-hand.”

For more information, check outthe ANR Report

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Analyzing the 2002 Farm Bill
The 2002 federal farm bill that became law in May renews major subsidies and introduces additional programs, some of which may impact California commodities and its efforts in international markets, reports Daniel Sumner, professor in the agricultural and resource economics department. “California agriculture is a large net exporter of many commodities that gain relatively little from farm bill subsidies in the 2002 act. For the longer term, if the FSRI Act makes progress in global market opening more difficult, that is not good news for farmers here in California,” he concludes.

Read morehere

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Wine Grape Genomics
Historic inroads are being made in genomic studies of the bacteria that populate wine fermentations. The Joint Genome Institute (JGI) in Walnut Creek and the sequencing arm of the Department of Energy (DoE), has just completed sequencing 11 important food fermentation-related bacteria, including Oenococcus oeni, the lactic acid bacterium involved in secondary fermentation of wines. This effort was coordinated by a nationwide consortium called the Lactic Acid Bacteria Genome Consortium (LABGC) and organized by Department of Viticulture and Enology assistant professor David Mills and professor Bart Weimer of Utah State University. Mills and Weimer developed the initial proposal for JGI to sequence the cluster of bacterial species in response to a Microbial Genome Program initiated by the DoE.

The draft genome sequences are availableonline

David Mills
Assistant Professor
Department of Viticulture and Enology
[email protected]
(530) 754-7821

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Easing Dairy Manure Issues
In California's Central Valley, dairy manure has been identified as a source of nitrate that contributes to groundwater pollution. A UC Davis biologically Integrated Farm Systems (BIFS) project shows that dairy farmers can manage manure as a valuable source of nutrients for forage crops used in the same dairy. The findings indicate manure can reduce environmental pollution while decreasing dairy production costs. Participating farmers have been able to drastically reduce and, in some cases, completely forego the application of synthetic nitrogen to their crops without affecting yield. Recent results reveal a substantial reduction in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus inputs without reductions in yield.

Read more about the projectonline

Stuart Pettygrove
Cooperative Extension Specialist
Department of Land, Air and Water Resources
[email protected]
(530) 752-2533

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Public Policy Workshop
Those involved in Cooperative Extension and 4-H activities will discover the power of public deliberation at the Public Policy Institute and Issue Framing Workshop on Sept-3-6. Held on campus, the workshop is part of the National Issues Forums (NIF), a nonpartisan, nationwide network of locally-sponsored forums that deliberate on public policy issues.

More information is availbleonline

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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 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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We Value Your Feedback
We value your feedback and contributions on CA&ES Currents. Do you have suggestions for improvement? News and announcements? Or other information to share with us?

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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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