July 18, 2003
MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN
A Message from Dean Neal Van Alfen: Sustainable Ag Town Hall Meeting, July 25
College Forges Collaboration with United Arab Emirates
Mark Francis to Organize Int’l Community Design Conference
IN THE NEWS
Ag Intellectual Property Share Plan
West Nile Watch
Regulating Fighting Cocks
Blame Britney Spears
Miller Plant Science Award
Humboldt Research Fellowship Program
RFP: Global Climate Change Grants
RFP: Roots of Change Fund
Sustainable Ag Town Hall Meeting, July 25
Ag Health and Safety Conference, Sept 7 – 9
A Message from Dean Neal Van Alfen: Sustainable Ag Town Hall Meeting, July 25
In a previous issue of Currents, I outlined the background of the sustainable agriculture initiative at UC Davis, including the work of the committee that was charged with studying its many facets and making recommendations as to how to proceed further. You can read their report here. Over the last decade, sustainable agriculture has been recognized as a field of study -- like genomics and foods for health -- that is gaining prominence among researchers, students, industry and the public. Research and instruction in the area of sustainable agriculture is happening at UC Davis, and has been for some time, although in a somewhat decentralized manner. The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has decided that the time has come to focus that energy and knowledge by developing an undergraduate curriculum in sustainable agriculture and creating a center for agricultural and natural resources sustainability. Plans for the center and the undergraduate curriculum are in the initial stages of development. The college would greatly benefit from the feedback and ideas of our stakeholders -- researchers and instructors, the public and all Californians interested in the future of the state’s agriculture and natural resources. Therefore, I’d like to encourage your participation in the Sustainable Agriculture Town Hall Meeting, which is being held Friday, July 25, 2 – 4 p.m., at the Heidrick Western Center for Agricultural Equipment, UC Davis. Meeting Agenda
- Welcome and background -- Neal Van Alfen
- Summary of report and introduction of Sustainable Ag Committee -- Eric Bradford, committee chair, Professor Emeritus, Animal Science
- Open discussion
If you’d like more information about the meeting, please contact Rich Engel at [email protected]
or (530) 754-6249. As always, we welcome your feedback. If you have questions or comments, please e-mail me.
Neal K. Van Alfen
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
On July 7 campus and college leaders gathered with representatives from the United Arab Emirates to initiate an agricultural research collaboration, focused on salt-tolerant crop research conducted by Eduardo Blumwald, professor in the Department of Pomology. Two year’s ago, Blumwald announced in the journal Nature Biotechnology that he had genetically engineered tomato plants that thrive in salty irrigation water. This research produced the first truly salt-tolerant crops and offered hope that other crops could also be genetically modified for planting in many areas of the world that have salty irrigation water and salt-damaged soils. He was awarded this year’s Alexander Von Humboldt Award for his research. During the evening ceremony at the Walter A. Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center, UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef and Dr. Abdulrahman Khaleg, agriculture adviser to the President of the United Arab Emirates, signed a Cooperation Resolution, pledging to further develop a scientific exchange. Chancellor Vanderhoef noted that the new collaboration is in keeping with the campus’s tradition of extending new research developments throughout the nation and abroad. The campus currently collaborates with 80 universities around the world and has an extensive exchange of students and scholars between UC Davis and other nations.
Professor Mark Francis of the Landscape Architecture Program was awarded a grant from the University of California Office of the President’s Pacific Rim Research Program to organize a three-day workshop to be held in the spring of 2004 titled "Constructing Communities in the Face of Change: Workshop on Community Design and Social Change in the Pacific Rim." The proposed workshop will bring together leading scholars and practitioners from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, the U.S. and Canada to engage in a dialogue on changing communities and implications for community design in the Pacific Rim. The workshop will involve participants from the fields of architecture, city and regional planning, community development, landscape architecture, sociology, and urban design.
Citing a public forum article in the journal Science, the Sacramento Bee reported that UC Davis and some sister campuses are signatories to a new plan for licensing patents on agricultural biotechnology in which universities will reserve rights for humanitarian projects and specialty crops. Martina Newell-McGloughlin, director of the UC Systemwide Biotechnology Research and Teaching Program and adjunct professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, said, "This will potentially make it easier to get (new technology) into the hands of the people who need it." The article also featured Alan Bennett, professor in the Department of Vegetable Crops and executive director of research administration and technology transfer for UC. Reporting on the same Science article, the San Francisco Chronicle also quoted Bennett, who said of the effort, "We are not interested in diminishing the commercial opportunities of this technology." Read the Science magazine article, co-authored by, among many other UC leaders, Larry Vanderhoef, chancellor of the University of California, Davis.
The San Diego Union-Tribune recently ran two stories about mosquitoes and West Nile virus. Joe Cech, a professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology and director of the Center for Aquatic Biology and Aquaculture, talked of the possible role of the gambusia -- the mosquito fish -- in reducing insect larvae numbers. Bruce Eldridge, professor of entomology emeritus and mosquito-borne disease authority, sorted out the feeding habits of two of California’s most-common mosquitoes. National Public Radio’s Morning Edition interviewed Tom Scott, entomology professor and director of the UC Mosquito Research Laboratory, about what will happen when the virus gets into the especially voracious mosquito species Culex tarsalis. Said Scott, “The mosquitoes that we've tested from right here in Yolo County where I am are apparently the most efficient vector of West Nile virus in North America. They become infected and transmit it at very high rates after short periods of incubation.”
In a widely distributed Associated Press wire story, Francine Bradley, a poultry specialist in the Department of Animal Science, says many breeders of fighting birds are legitimate businesses that ship animals to places where cockfighting is legal. She said it makes sense to incorporate these businesses into regulatory oversight in order to control Exotic Newcastle Disease.
Susan Kaiser, chair of the Department of Textiles and Clothing, told the Sacramento Bee that both the fashion industry and consumers are to blame for the skimpier-is-better trend in young girl's clothing. Kaiser also said that pop stars such as ex-Mouseketeer Britney Spears are fueling the trend. Note to concerned parents: clothes that cover up help prevent West Nile virus.
Applications are now available for the Milton D. and Mary A. Miller Plant Science Award. Applicants should be UC Cooperative Extension employees or graduate or undergraduate students with an interest in Cooperative Extension careers. Deadline is September 1.
The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Research Fellowship Program supports scholars of all nationalities and disciplines so that they may carry out long-term research projects in Germany. Applications may be submitted for research stays of between six and 12 months, for a two-year fellowship, or for a summer research fellowship. Monthly stipends are included in the awards and special allowances are made for travel expenses, accompanying family members and German language instruction. The foundation awards up to 600 fellowships a year.
The California Energy Commission through the California Institute for Energy Efficiency has recently announced a global climate change grant solicitation. The four research topics range from one to five years duration and include up to $600,000 funding. Deadline: July 31, 2003.
The Roots of Change Fund, a foundation collaborative that focuses on grant-making to support the transition to sustainable food systems in California, has announced its first Request for Proposals. Letters of Intent for two separate projects are due on July 29, 2003.
Dean Neal Van Alfen invites interest groups and the public to address the future of the college's sustainable-farming efforts at a town hall meeting being held Friday, July 25, 2 – 4 p.m., at the Joe A. Heidrick Western Center for Agricultural Equipment, UC Davis. Directions: From Sacramento or the Bay Area, take I-80 to Davis and exit onto Hwy. 113 North. Exit Hutchison Drive -- turn left and cross over the freeway. The Heidrick Center is on the right-hand side as the road turns sharply to the right. For more information, contact Rich Engel at (530) 754-6249 or [email protected]
The Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety at UC Davis will sponsor a San Francisco conference for health care professionals, veterinarians, university researchers, agribusiness representatives, rural residents and government officials. The goal of the conference is to exchange information that will help reduce or eliminate chronic illnesses and injuries associated with agricultural work.
July 19, 7:00 p.m. Guided Tour: A Summer Night in the Terrace Meet at the Arboretum Terrace Garden Aug. 2, 7:00 p.m. Guided Tour: Enjoy your Mediterranean Garden in the Summer Heat Meet at the Arboretum Terrace Garden Aug. 9, 10:00 a.m. Guided Tour: Container Gardening in the Central Valley Meet at the Arboretum Terrace Garden Aug. 16, 10:00 a.m. Guided Tour: What's Blooming in the Summer Heat Meet at the Arboretum Terrace Garden