CA&ES Currents Newsletter  icon newspaper

October 18, 2002

Jun 05, 2014 admin

A Message from Dean Neal Van Alfen: Eichhorn Family House

Several years ago Donis and Ike Eichhorn had a vision of a place where parents and their children could create healthy relationships and where researchers could learn about such dynamics. To make this possible, the Eichhorns began collaborating with Carol Rodning, an associate professor in the human and community development department, to develop the Eichhorn Family House. As this project evolved, the Eichhorns made a major financial commitment to building the house, and the campus appointed a Family House Planning Committee. We have much progress to report. On Sept. 6, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Eichhorn Family House. Now under construction, the site is taking shape on the central campus within the Center for Child and Family Studies Complex, south of First Street and west of Aggie Village. Once complete, the Eichhorn Family House will provide state-of-the-art research, outreach, and educational opportunities to UC Davis faculty, students and visiting scholars, as well as outreach to families and social service institutions in the surrounding communities. These opportunities will be in the area of family influences on early childhood development, and in the area of infant mental health and well-being. We extend our deepest gratitude to the Eichhorns for generously supporting a project that will change lives in countless and far-reaching ways. “The Eichhorn Family House will become an important setting for interdisciplinary research and graduate instruction about human development, human relationships and family well-being,” said Beth Ober, chair of the human development program in the human and community development department. The new building will allow the center to develop experimental programs for children and families through its laboratory. Although parents and other family members always have been an essential component of the center, space limitations have not permitted formal development of such family-centered research activities. Accommodating 20 to 30 people, the Eichhorn lab will include a library, demonstration area, kitchen and eating area, office space, and restroom and utility rooms. Central to research will be an observation room with one-way windows for observing activities in the "Sand Tray" and "Wait, Watch and Wonder" rooms. The Sand Tray Room will be used for teaching and research activities, while the Wait, Watch and Wonder Room will accommodate couples, children, specialists and students involved in research activities relating to parenting, child development and family communications. Our researchers in the human sciences and community development are constantly breaking new ground and contributing to the people and communities of California. The Eichhorn Family House offers us greater potential to meet some of those needs.

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

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Walter Leal Collaborates with Nobel Prize Winner
Walter Leal, professor in the entomology department, has a long-term collaboration with one of the winners of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Kurt Wuethrich, who received this honor for developing methods of identifying and analyzing large biological molecules, such as proteins. Wuethrich, a scientist with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, is the fifth Swiss chemistry laureate, and the first since 1991. Leal's and Wuethrich's research uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and is aimed at understanding how insects perceive pheromones and other chemical signals. Last December they and other colleagues published research findings that uncovered a key step in insects' sense of smell. The discovery could lead to insecticides that stop insects from communicating through chemical signals. Leal and Wuethrich are interested in understanding the molecular basis of insect olfaction to pave the way for the development of environmentally safe alternative methods of insect control. As part of their ongoing collaboration, the Department of Entomology is currently hosting one of Wuethrich’s graduate students, Dongham Lee. Leal will train Lee on the functional expression of pheromone-binding protein in order to better understand pheromone binding and release.

Walter Leal
Department of Entomology
[email protected]
(530) 752-7755

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Lester Ehler and the Biological Control Symposium
Combining invading insect and plant species with the oldest and newest in scientific approaches, researchers from 22 nations gathered Oct. 14-16 in Montpellier, France, for a symposium on "The Role of Genetics and Evolution in Biological Control." The scientists will be sharing the latest information on how molecular biology can be applied to traditional biological-control techniques in order to combat insect pests and invasive plants. "One of the most effective means for dealing with invasive insect pests and weeds is classical biological control, which relies on the introduction of natural enemies of the invader from its native home," said Lester Ehler, a professor in the Department of Entomology and president of the International Organization for Biological Control, which is hosting the symposium. "Ideally, the enemies should come from the precise location in the native home from which the invader originated," Ehler says. "With advances in molecular genetics, we now have the tools to determine that location. This will greatly improve our ability to find a natural enemy that is well adapted to the target invasive pest."

Lester Ehler
Department of Entomology
[email protected]
(530) 752-0484

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Liz Applegate and Women’s Nutrition
Liz Applegate, a lecturer in the nutrition department, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that foods marketed for women's health needs offer women more choices and may help motivate them to eat better. "These new foods offer women a choice," said Applegate. "It motivates women to take better nutritional care of themselves."

For more information,click here

Liz A. Applegate
Department of Nutrition
[email protected]
(530) 752-6682

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Richard Sexton on Food Market Consolidation
Richard Sexton, director of the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics and professor in the agricultural resources economics department, addressed the issue of market consolidation in the food industry in an editorial in California Agriculture. “Food in the United States remains relatively cheap and quality and variety probably have never been greater,” he wrote. “The challenges lie in ensuring fair prices for producers, preserving farming as an independent occupation, and maintaining the vitality of the rural communities that are supported by U.S. agriculture.”

More information is availableonline

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Miguel Marino Teaches in China
Miguel Marino, professor in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, served as honorary professor in Wuhan University, China, in September 2002. He presented seminars, advised students, and participated in round-table discussions addressing water resources and environmental issues. Marino’s research focuses on groundwater modeling, contamination and management; water resource planning and management; conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater; hydrologic systems analysis; and irrigation management.

Miguel Marino
Department of Land, Air and Water Resources
[email protected]
(530) 752-0684

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Buy California Specialty Crops
A new $7 million competitive grants program called "Buy California," supporting research projects related to specialty crops, was recently announced by Secretary William Lyons Jr. of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Dean Neal Van Alfen spoke at an Oct. 10 press conference held at the Joe Heidrick Western Center for Agricultural Equipment on campus. This was one of six Buy California announcements held that day throughout the state. This initiative marks the first time that significant funding has been designated to promote the specialty crop market in California, which raises more than 300 crops and is the nation's leading producer of specialty crops.

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Cloning the World’s Oldest Living Tree
Chris Friel, a doctoral student in the plant pathology department, will attempt to clone "Methusaleh," which is a 4,768-year-old bristlecone pine recognized as the oldest known living tree. Methusaleh grows in California's White Mountains. Friel will attempt the cloning by placing bud tissue from the samples in a starchy medium with plant growth hormones. Those bud cells -- similar to human stem cells -- theoretically could differentiate into a range of parts, such as roots and branches, making it possible to grow an entire plant. Just being able to clone such an old tree is "a really big step," Friel said. "It's almost like Walt Disney having himself frozen. I'm not really sure what they have in mind."

Read the full articleonline

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Marin Ranchers and Grass-fed Livestock
While demand for grass-fed meats has increased in recent years, current media attention has spurred a flurry of interest that has been a boon for ranchers pursuing this niche market. Grass-fed livestock, while not necessarily certified as organic, is raised almost entirely on pasture, and cattle usually do not receive hormones or antibiotics. As a result, beef fatten much more slowly. To assist ranchers who may want to take advantage of this opportunity, Steve Quirt, Marin County's newly hired organic and sustainable agriculture coordinator, convened the Natural and Organic Livestock Workgroup in mid-2002. About 20 ranchers gathered at the June meeting in Novato.

Read more

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New Test to Manage Dairy Wastewater
Scientists have developed a system for dairy operators to quickly measure nitrogen in dairy wastewater, giving them an important tool in the complex and environmentally sensitive task of managing wastewater lagoons. Typically dairy wastewater is pumped from plastic-lined storage areas called lagoons or ponds onto adjacent farmland, where farmers grow corn or winter forage for cow feed. To ensure a good crop, commercial fertilizer is commonly added. But the practice can result in more nitrogen being applied than the crop can use. The leftover can seep down into the aquifer and pollute groundwater. "A lot of dairy operators don't have the capacity in a wet winter to hold all the water in their ponds," says Thomas Harter, a groundwater hydrologist in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources. "It is standard practice to empty the pond in the fall. But if the soil is sandy, you can't put fertilizer on during one part of the year and hope it is there six months later to help plants grow." Earlier this year, Harter, soils specialist Roland Meyer, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Marsha Campbell-Mathews and Regional Water Quality Control Board scientist Harley Davis reported in the Journal of Contaminant Hydrology that shallow groundwater in the vicinity of five Stanislaus County dairies had high levels of nitrate.

More details

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Organic Dairy Production Costs
Organic is a very small but rapidly increasing sector of California’s valuable dairy industry. To provide information for conventional dairy producers considering a switch, Leslie Butler, marketing specialist in the agricultural and resource economics department, quantified the costs of organic dairy production in California.

Leslie J. Butler
Dairy Specialist and Lecturer
Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
[email protected]
(530) 752-3681

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American Bison Reading
Dale Lott, professor emeritus in the wildlife, fish and conservation biology department, will hold a reading Nov. 13 in Kleiber Hall on his new book, “American Bison: A Natural History.” In the work, Lott and co-author Harry Greene detail the history of the American bison, bison physiology, conservation efforts past and present, and the relationships buffalo have with other buffalo as well as such grasslands cohorts as wolves, badgers, prairie dogs, coyotes and grizzlies. Co-sponsors of the reading include the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, the Animal Behavior Graduate Group, Ecology Graduate Group, and the student chapter of the Wildlife Society.

Peter B. Moyle
Deptartment of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology
[email protected]
(530) 752-6355

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Agromedicine Consortium
The 15th annual meeting of the North American Agromedicine Consortium "Agromedicine in the 21st Century,” will be held Nov. 17-19, 2002. The location is the Hilton San Diego Resort on Mission Bay in San Diego. Due to mail delays, conference and abstract deadlines have been extended to Oct. 25.

To register, click on "annual meeting" at theAgromedicine web site

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Turkish Rug Weaving
The environmental design department is co-sponsoring a Turkish rug weaving event on Oct. 31, 2002. The workshop will include slide lectures on “The DOBAG Project: Reviving the Ancient Artistry of Turkish Rug Weaving.” The location is Room 135, Walker Hall at Shields Library. Live rug weaving will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with slide lectures at 12:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Founded in 1981, the DOBAG rug project is creating a renaissance of Oriental carpet weaving using only natural dyes from traditional plants and roots. The DOBAG cooperative involves more than 300 families in 40 villages throughout Turkey.

Return to Tradition

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Southern California Groundwater Tour
Groundwater basin management issues in southern California – including recharge and spreading basins, contamination and clean-up efforts, water marketing strategies, well destruction programs, sea water intrusion and conjunctive use – are the focus of this tour. The tour begins and ends at Ontario International Airport and travels to Orange County, Los Angeles, the Oxnard plain, and East Kern and San Bernardino Counties. Visit Chino Basin dairy farms; the Santa Ana River recharge facility; Whittier Narrows Superfund Site; Ventura wells; the Mojave River Basin; and coastal salinity intrusion recharge sites.

Check out theGround Water Itinerary

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Plant Biotechnology Briefings
The National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy (NCFAP) will hold two in-depth briefings in October on a new study documenting the impact of biotech crops on pest management in California. The study concluded that biotech varieties could significantly increase the state's food and fiber production by millions of pounds a year, improve California growers' farm incomes and reduce reliance on pesticide use. The findings are part of NCFAP's comprehensive study, "Plant Biotechnology: Current and Potential Impact for Improving Pest Management in U.S. Agriculture," which quantifies the impact of plant biotechnology on crop production, grower production costs and pesticide application for each of 40 case studies involving 27 biotech crops grown in 47 states. Both presentations are open to the public and will be of particular interest to people involved in the food and agriculture industries, as well as policy-makers. The briefings, titled “Plant Biotechnology: Current and Potential Impact for Improving Pest Management in California,” will take place at 2 p.m., Monday, Oct. 21, 2002, in the 1022 Life Sciences Addition on the UC Davis campus, and at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2002, in the Auditorium, California Department of Food and Agriculture, 1220 N Street, Sacramento.

Sara Pace
[email protected]
(202) 328-5044

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Arboretum Events
On Nov. 3, the guided tour, “Getting Ready for Winter in the Garden,” will show people what to do to prepare gardens for winter. The tour meets at 11 a.m. at the Arboretum Terrace Garden, next to Borders Books at the Davis Commons retail center, on First Street in Davis. Another tour on the same day, “Gardening with Herbs for the Central Valley,” covers the subject of gardening with herbs. The tour starts at 2 p.m. at the Putah Creek Lodge on campus. On Nov. 10, the birds of the UC Davis Arboretum will be the focus of a free public tour. Participants will learn about nesting locations for such species as night herons and Swainson's hawks, and favorite food sources for many kinds of birds among the plants growing in the arboretum. The tour leaves at 2 p.m. from Arboretum Headquarters, on LaRue Road on campus. On Nov. 12, noted landscape designer Michael Glassman will speak about different uses for water in the garden at the November meeting of the Friends of the Arboretum. The talk begins at 7 p.m. in the Club Room at the Veteran's Memorial Center, 203 E. 14th Street, Davis. On Nov. 13, join Superintendent Warren Roberts for a lunchtime stroll in the arboretum. Meet at noon at Arboretum Headquarters, on LaRue Road on campus. On Nov. 17, a guided tour, “Traditional Uses of Native Plants,” will show participants how the earliest native people in the California foothills used native plants for survival. The tour leaves at 2 p.m. from Arboretum Headquarters, on LaRue Road on campus.

Arboretum calendar

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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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