CA&ES Currents Newsletter  icon newspaper

September 20, 2002

Jun 05, 2014 admin

A Message from Dean Neal Van Alfen

Our college has recently been designated as host of the Western Region Plant Pest and Disease Diagnostics and Surveillance Network (WRDSN). The opportunity to serve as one of only five such centers in the country reflects our research leadership in the pest sciences and ability to collaborate across interdisciplinary frontiers. This project has been made possible through the Homeland Security bill. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has allocated the necessary funds to UC Davis for coordinating this program. Richard Bostock, chair of the Department of Plant Pathology, will serve as project coordinator. We will also work closely with the California Department of Food and Agriculture on diagnostic issues. The purpose of the WRDSN is to help manage plant, environmental and human health problems that might arise from biotic agents introduced -- either intentionally or accidentally -- into the environment. To achieve this, we will establish a network for the detection and diagnosis of plant health problems, extend and support sound public policies, develop prevention and management strategies, and provide leadership and training on the subject. The reason this is so important is that Western region is one of the most important agriculture areas of the country. Thus, the WRSDN -- with UC Davis at the helm -- is accepting a major responsibility to help safeguard that food supply. The scope and breadth of our project is immense, and includes Alaska, California, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and the U.S. territories in the south Pacific. Of all the regions within the network, ours is arguably the most diverse in the types of climate and plants involved as well as geographic size. One challenge facing us is that the pest and disease surveillance capabilities vary widely across the states and territories involved. We will work to improve resources and collaboration on this issue. This summer we met with USDA officials and representatives from the other research institutions in Washington, D.C. and hosted a follow-up meeting on campus to draft a comprehensive plan -- though admittedly we will adjust and adapt our approach as needed. Now, with a guiding vision and resources at our disposal, we are ready to undertake this extremely important task in the post-Sept. 11th era.

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

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The Ann Noble Interview
Ann Noble, professor in the viticulture and enology department, discussed her research and career in a Sacramento Bee interview. Noble is preparing for retirement after 28 years of service to UC Davis. Her primary research has focused on sensory enlightenment, the process by which winemakers and wine enthusiasts learn to objectively identify and interpret the dozens of aromas wine is capable of casting from a glass. She also developed the Wine Aroma Wheel to help people describe and better understand wine. “The more you can get people to not be afraid of drinking wine, the more you help the wine industry. One of the things you've got to recognize is that a wine expert isn't God. You've got to convince consumers that they (consumers) are right,” Noble said.

Read moreonline

Ann Noble
Department of Viticulture and Enology
[email protected]
(530) 752-0387

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Eric Mussen on Bees and Dry Weather
Eric Mussen, extension specialist in the entomology department, was quoted by the Associated Press on how drought conditions affect honeybees. With rainfall in some areas of the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California down as much as 70 percent, the wildflowers have dried up, denying bees a primary food source. The few remaining plants have produced little nectar, said Mussen. "The plants just can't suck enough juice out of the ground."

More informationhere

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Barbara Schneeman Scales the Food Pyramid
Barbara Schneeman, professor in the nutrition department, commented in the Sacramento Bee on her research into the usefulness of the food pyramid. She has worked with the USDA over the past 12 years to review and revise the nation's dietary guidelines. While the guidelines have been updated, the pyramid has remained largely untouched. Schneeman suggests that federal authorities need to ask whether the number and size of servings in the pyramid are still pertinent, whether the foods shown on the triangle are the most relevant to Americans today and whether the structure's symbols are effectively guiding people toward smart choices.

Read thefull article

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Richard Harris Receives Arboriculture Honor
The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) recently honored Richard Harris, professor emeritus in the environmental horticulture department. The organization voted to rename an award the Richard W. Harris Authors Citation based on the researcher’s significant contributions to the growth of the arborist’s profession, especially in the area of publications. ISA distributes this award to authors of outstanding arboriculture publications. The society has served the tree care industry for over 70 years as a scientific and educational organization.

International Society of Arboriculture website

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Marion Miller to Chair State Committee
Governor Gray Davis appointed Marion Miller, chair of the environmental toxicology department, to chair the state Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee. Since 1994 Miller has served on the committee, which acts as the state’s qualified scientific expert on chemicals causing reproductive toxicity. The courses she teaches cover the biological effects of toxicants, career options in environmental toxicology, reproductive toxicology, and principles of pharmacology and toxicology.

Marion G. Miller
Department of Environmental Toxicology
[email protected]
(530) 752-4526

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Sudden Oak Update
Two of California's most highly prized trees -- coast redwood and Douglas fir -- are susceptible to Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death, UC researchers have confirmed. Over the past seven years, Sudden Oak Death, a highly contagious fungus-like disease, has killed tens of thousands of oaks and tanoaks along the northern coast of the state. Researchers from UC Berkeley and UC Davis have isolated living cultures of P. ramorum from the branches and needles of coast redwood and Douglas fir saplings that had shown symptoms of infection. The researchers first announced the discovery of P. ramorum DNA in the trees earlier this year, but couldn't confirm that the pathogen was causing infection until living cultures were successfully grown from the field samples. It is not yet clear how seriously the disease will impact California's coast redwood and Douglas fir trees, which are ecologically and economically vital to the state, particularly to the timber, nursery, landscape and construction industries.

Read moreonline

David Rizzo
Associate Professor
Department of Plant Pathology
[email protected]
(530) 754-9255

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Stargazing and Andean Agriculture
For at least the past four centuries, indigenous potato farmers of the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes have gathered in midwinter to gaze up into the night sky and observe the Pleiades. If this star cluster appears big and bright to them, they think that they will have plentiful rains and big harvests the next summer; if the cluster appears small and dim, they anticipate less abundance. Their belief is so strong that they time the planting of their crops accordingly. One might imagine this as nothing more than an odd superstition, but the scheme actually works, according to research by Benjamin Orlove, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. Orlove and his colleagues discovered that the apparent size and brightness of the Pleiades varies with the amount of thin, high cloud at the top of the troposphere, which in turn reflects the severity of El Niño conditions over the Pacific. Because rainfall in this region is generally sparse in El Niño years, this method provides a forecast that is as good or better than any long-term prediction based on computer modeling of the ocean and atmosphere.

Read more

Benjamin Orlove
Department of Environmental Science and Policy
[email protected]
(530) 754-6114

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For the Halibut
A UC Davis aquaculture project to farm California halibut may help this fast-growing segment of the global food economy. Raul Piedrahita, professor in the biological and agricultural engineering department, is designing state-of-the-art aquaculture systems for halibut. The keys are improved diets and recirculating seawater systems. With halibut reared on the UC Davis campus, Piedrahita is studying their responses to such variables as temperature, salinity, water velocity, oxygen consumption and ammonia production. His goal is to develop a prototype halibut aquaculture system. The development of halibut aquaculture would create new opportunities for the aquacultrue industry and for restocking and research programs in California and throughout the West Coast. The research findings will be useful for the design of systems for other ocean species.

Raul Piedrahita
Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
[email protected]
(530) 752-2780

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Dedicating the Plant and Environmental Sciences Building
The campus community is invited to the formal dedication and opening of the new Plant and Environmental Sciences (PES) Building at 11 a.m. on Sept. 23. Building tours will follow from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The PES Building is located at the corner of North Quad and California avenues. Six different research stations outside will demonstrate the type of science that takes place in the building. Designated labs within the building will be open to visitors. The concept of the PES building emerged from extensive discussions within CA&ES in early 1997. The building supports interdisciplinary studies and will house some of the faculty, students and staff from the Departments of Agronomy and Range Science; Land, Air and Water Resources; Environmental Science and Policy; and Environmental Horticulture. It is the first academic building completed for the college within the last decade.

Susan Kancir
Executive Assistant
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
[email protected]
(530) 752-5597

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Preserving the Ralph Moore Rose Collection
The Department of Environmental Horticulture has embarked on a project to preserve Ralph Moore’s extensive rose variety collection. Moore has been a pioneer in the rose breeding business for more than 60 years and has introduced at least 300 varieties of miniatures and other roses. Most of the miniature roses sold today are descended from Moore’s hybrids. To preserve this legacy, the department is compiling a database specifying the qualities and ancestry of selected rose varieties and creating a historical record of Moore’s hybridization techniques. The department is also exploring the possibility of establishing a faculty position as a resource for breeders to work on ornamentals, which would involve the Moore collection.

Environmental Horticulture Department website

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Crop Production and Marketing Course
UC Davis Extension offers a wide variety of professional education courses designed for growers, processors, food distributors and retailers. A new course, “Identity Preservation Practices for Value-enhanced Crops,” will focus on identity preservation in crop production and the marketing of those products. The course takes place at the Heidrick Agricultural History Center in Woodland on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Read moreon the web

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Western Region Teaching Symposium
On Sept. 13-14, UC Davis will host the Western Region Teaching Symposium. CA&ES is co-sponsoring the event in conjunction with CSU-Chico, CSU-Fresno and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. Educators are encouraged to attend the annual event, which is held in a different Western state each year. Historically, attendees have been faculty/extension specialists and administrators from state universities and land-grant colleges in Western states and the Pacific Islands. It is an opportunity to meet and converse with teachers, administrators and extension specialists about teaching.

Registration and program information is availableonline

Annie King
Associate Dean
Undergraduate Academic Programs
[email protected]
(530) 752-7150

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Exotic Pests Workshop
The Exotic Pests and Diseases Research Program will hold its first annual research workshop on Oct. 10 at UC Davis. This workshop provides an opportunity to review current research funded by the research program and the chance to interact with the investigators and listen to presentations. The workshop will take place in the AGR Room at the Buehler Alumni Center. Deadline: Sept. 27

Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program site

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Southern California Groundwater Tour
The Water Education Foundation will hold a tour of groundwater basin management issues in southern California. 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.

See the tour itineraryonline

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Biopesticide Research Program
The IR-4 Biopesticide Research Program invites grant proposals for funding in 2003. The IR-4 Project is a federally funded agricultural program aimed at assisting specialty or minor crop producers by facilitating the availability of safe and effective pest control products. All proposals must have a primary focus on biopesticides.

Program information is availableonline

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Reduced-risk Pest Grants
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation is offering financial support for Pest Management Alliance grant projects.

To apply, download theRFP package

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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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