CA&ES Currents Newsletter  icon newspaper

December 9, 2010

May 27, 2014 admin

Message from the Dean







A Message from Dean Neal Van Alfen: Helping Ensure Food Security

In this season of gift-giving, it’s interesting to think about the ways in which our college gives back to society. One gift we offer is new knowledge — research discoveries that can be applied to meet societal needs.

Research that seeks to improve “food security,” or access to adequate amounts of nutritious food in order to live a healthy and productive life, is one area of investigation in our college that has a global impact. Our faculty are engaged in various ways to ensure that people throughout the world have enough food to eat.

We have scientists studying how to grow food and produce animal food more efficiently and sustainably. We do research that contributes to the nutritional content of food. Our faculty are developing ways to grow crops that can tolerate harsh environmental stresses such as drought or salinity. Our scientists have also made groundbreaking discoveries in wheat, rice, and other staple crops, leading to improved varieties that are advancing worldwide food production.

In postharvest technology, our extensive outreach has helped growers in developing countries reduce crop losses between harvest and consumption. In war-torn countries, our faculty have enhanced food security by helping rebuild agricultural education systems and improving economic conditions. Our scientists have also developed affordable nutritional supplements to prevent infant and maternal malnutrition in impoverished countries, helping vulnerable children grow up to develop their full potential and become productive members of society.

Our college’s contributions to improving food security are a gift not only to people, but also to the planet. As the world population increases, the ultimate challenge will be to produce the food we need while protecting natural resources. Our college is committed to helping meet that challenge.

Best wishes to all of you during this holiday season.

As always, I value your feedback. If you have questions or comments, please e-mail me.

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



Kenneth Brown: Prince Mahidol Award

Kenneth Brown

Nutrition professor Kenneth Brown, a pediatrician by training, is one of five researchers and physicians from around the world recently named to receive the Prince Mahidol Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to the fields of medicine and public health.

The awards, each including a medal and $50,000 prize, will be presented by His Majesty King Bhumipol Adulyadej of Thailand during a January ceremony. The Prince Mahidol Award Foundation of Thailand annually bestows these awards in honor of the late Prince Mahidol of Songkla, who modernized medical services and education in Thailand.

Brown, one of three recipients to receive the award this year in the field of public health, has devoted much of his career to generating information and developing programs to improve nutrition and health, particularly among young children and women in developing nations. His work has had a special focus on controlling and preventing zinc deficiency, a major contributor to childhood illness, death, and impaired physical growth.

Brown currently is helping to conduct studies in Bangladesh and several countries in West Africa, and is serving as the regional adviser for nutrition and child survival for Helen Keller International in Africa, where he is involved in the design and evaluation of large-scale nutrition intervention programs.

Ken Brown
(530) 752-1992
[email protected] 

Tim Caro: Wildlife Conservation Society Fellow

Tim Caro

Professor Tim Caro, of the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, has been named a fellow in the Wildlife Conservation Society. The Wildlife Conservation Society was founded in 1895, with the mission of saving wildlife and wild places across the globe. In appreciation of Caro’s commitment to wildlife conservation, the society appointed the wildlife biologist to a three-year term as fellow.

Caro’s research interests span both behavioral ecology and conservation biology, including the evolution of coloration in mammals, the ecology and biodiversity of an African ecosystem, the evolution of antipredator defenses, the interspecific competition in North American carnivores, and the link between animal behavior and conservation biology.

Tim Caro
(530) 752-5196
[email protected]

Joe DiTomaso and Kassim Al-Khatib: Weed Science Society Fellows

Joe Ditomasokhatib

Weed scientists Joe DiTomaso and Kassim Al-Khatib have been named fellows of the Weed Science Society of America, the highest honor bestowed by the society. The Weed Science Society of America is a nonprofit scientific society founded in 1956 to encourage and promote the development of knowledge concerning weeds and their impact on the environment.

An internationally recognized leader in weed science, DiTomaso is editor-in-chief for “Invasive Plant Science and Management” and director of the UC Weed Research and Information Center. He has been a specialist in Cooperative Extension since 1995.

Weed specialist Al-Khatib was hired by UC Davis in 2010 as both a professor in the plant sciences department and director of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. Al-Khatib came to campus from Kansas State University, where he was a professor and weed scientist specializing in integrated weed management, vegetation management, and pesticide drift.

DiTomaso and Al-Khatib will be honored as fellows of the society at the annual Weed Science Society of America meeting to be held in February in Portland, Oregon.

Joseph DiTomaso
(530) 754-8715
[email protected]

Kassim Al-Khatib
(530) 752-8350
[email protected] 

Brad Hanson: Outstanding Early Career Weed Scientist

Brad Hanson

Cooperative Extension specialist Brad Hanson has been named Outstanding Early Career Weed Scientist by the Western Society of Weed Science (WSWS). Hanson was hired by the Department of Plant Sciences in 2009, specializing in weed management for perennial crops and methyl bromide alternatives. From 2005 to 2009, he was a weed scientist with USDA-ARS based in Parlier focusing on methyl bromide alternatives in fruit and nut tree and grapevine nurseries, ornamentals, floriculture, and strawberries. Hanson will be honored by the WSWS during its annual meeting next March in Spokane, Washington.

Brad Hanson
(530) 752-8115
[email protected] 

Alison Van Eenennaam: Excellence in Extension Award

van award

Alison Van Eenennaam, a Cooperative Extension specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology, recently received the 2010 National Award for Excellence in Extension during the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities held in Dallas, Texas.

The association presents the award annually to an individual whose extension efforts have demonstrated "high-impact programming, visionary leadership and anticipation of emerging issues." Van Eenennaam's extension program in the Department of Animal Science is focused on developing science-based educational materials about animal genomics and livestock biotechnology. She works closely with the beef cattle industry and has developed a range of educational programs for livestock producers on topics ranging from animal cloning to DNA- and genome-based genetic selection methods. In an effort to increase public understanding of agricultural biotechnology, she uses a variety of media including YouTube videos, and provides science-based commentary on controversial topics including genetically engineered animals.

In the photo, Van Eenennaam (right) receives the award from Roger Beachy, director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Alison Van Eenennaam
(530) 752-7942
[email protected]

Small Farm Program: National Extension Diversity Award

diversity award

The Small Farm Program, directed by Cooperative Extension specialist Shermain Hardesty, received the 2010 National Extension Diversity Award at the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. The award described the UC Small Farm Program as “an exemplary extension program, notable for its proven commitment to serving diverse farming communities in California and innovative approaches to helping small farmers succeed.”

In addition to Hardesty, the 2009–10 Small Farm Program team includes Linda Vieira, office manager; Penny Leff, agritourism coordinator; Courtney Riggle, program representative; Brenda Dawson, communications coordinator; Aziz Baameur, advisor for San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties; Mark Gaskell, advisor for Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties; Manuel Jimenez, advisor for Tulare County; Ramiro Lobo, advisor for San Diego County; Richard Molinar, advisor for Fresno County; and Michael Yang, Hmong agricultural assistant for Fresno County.

Farm advisors with the program focus their efforts on challenges facing small-scale farmers, including ethnic minority farmers and farmers with limited resources. They frequently work with Hmong and Lao farming communities in the Central Valley, ethnic Chinese farming communities in the Bay Area and coastal regions, and Hispanic farming communities in the Central Valley and along the coast.

Shown in the photo, from left to right, are: Mark Gaskell, Shermain Hardesty, Roger Beachy (presenting the award), Ramiro Lobo, and Aziz Baameur.

Shermain Hardesty
(530) 752-0467
[email protected]


Arboretum Garden Volunteers

arboretum vol

The UC Davis Arboretum seeks garden volunteers to work with horticulturists and care for a broad variety of plants in the arboretum. A dozen new volunteers will be accepted for a training class that will meet on Wednesday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon, February 2 through March 2, 2011. Volunteers must commit to working one morning each week, either on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday mornings. 

Though not overly strenuous, the work is definitely physical and outdoors, so volunteers must be able to handle the exercise and the weather. The class will fill up quickly, so interested volunteers should not delay.

Margaret Kralovec
(530) 752-1404
[email protected]

Commercial Food Processing Short Course

The UC Davis Better Process Control School is now offered in an online version. The four-day short course—intended for operating supervisors of commercial food processing operations of low acid (pH > 4.6) and acidified foods—is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

This is the first approved online course on the topic in the country.  The online version will provide U.S. food companies with another means of teaching their employees about production of safe foods in cans, jars, and flexible and semi-rigid packages. UC Davis will continue to offer the in-person program every February.

Registration is $400, and includes a textbook and access to the video modules and test modules. For registration, visit

The course coordinator is Diane Barrett, [email protected]. For procedural information, contact Zann Gates.  

Zann Gates
Department of Food Science and Technology
(530) 752-5901
[email protected] 

Growing Green Awards: Call for Nominations

Nominations are being accepted for the third annual Growing Green Awards, sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).  A Growing Green Award will be given next April to an outstanding individual in each of four categories: food producer, business leader, knowledge leader, and young food leader. Cash prizes of $10,000 and $5,000 will be awarded in the food producer and young food leader categories, respectively.

The NRDC sponsors these national awards to recognize individuals who have demonstrated original leadership in the field of sustainable food. The NRDC seeks nominees who have made contributions that advance ecologically integrated farming practices, climate stewardship, water stewardship, farmland preservation, and social responsibility from farm to fork.

Applications are due December 12, 2010. For more information, visit

Suzanne Vyborney
National Resources Defense Council
[email protected] 


Arboretum Events

For more information, visit the arboretum website:

  • “Folk Music Jam Session”
    Friday, December 10, noon to 1 p.m., Wyatt Deck.
    The arboretum's folk music jams are held outside on the Wyatt Deck next to the redwood grove. Campus and community folk musicians are invited to play together informally during this acoustic jam session. Bring your fiddles, guitars, mandolins, penny whistles, pipes, flutes, and squeezeboxes, and join fellow musicians for bluegrass, old-time, blues, Celtic, klezmer, and world music. Listeners and musicians of all skill levels welcome.          
  • “Why Do Some Trees Lose Their Leaves?”
    Saturday, December 11, 11 a.m., Gazebo.       
    Learn more about the difference between evergreen and deciduous trees during a free tour of the Shields Oak Grove, which contains one of the nation’s largest collections of oak trees.



Bohart Museum of Entomology Special Hours: December 11, 2010

The Bohart Museum of Entomology will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 11, to accommodate visitors who are unable to visit the museum during its normal Monday–Thursday operating hours.

The Bohart houses more than seven million insect specimens, plus a live “petting zoo,” that includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, tarantulas, scorpions, a millipede, and six different kinds of walking sticks. The museum is located at 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive.

More information is available on the Bohart website at

Tabatha Yang
Department of Entomology
(530) 752-9464
[email protected]

Grand Opening of the Winery, Brewery, and Food Science Facility: January 28, 2011

The official grand opening of the Teaching and Research Winery and the August A. Busch III Brewing and Food Science Laboratory is Friday, January 28, at 10 a.m. As the newest addition to the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, these facilities are housed in the only building on campus that meets the strict environmental standards known as “LEED Platinum.” The building has high thermal efficiency and low energy consumption. It uses rainwater in toilets and landscaping, and includes other “green” features.

To attend the reception, reply to [email protected]. Please write “Grand Opening” in the subject line of your reply.

Carrie Cloud
CA&ES Dean’s Office
(530) 752-2120
[email protected]

Delivering More Flavorful Produce Workshop: February 1–2, 2011

Produce industry professionals are invited to participate in a “Delivering More Flavorful Produce” workshop to be held February 1–2 at the Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center. It will be offered again May 4–5 in Gainesville, Florida. The workshop is coordinated by Cooperative Extension specialist Beth Mitcham of the Department of Plant Sciences, and Jeff Brecht of the University of Florida.

The workshop is intended for produce industry professionals in management and research and development positions from all segments of the production and distribution system. This includes germplasm development, growing, packing, shipping, and retailing, along with members of the supporting industries that supply the technology and services to help get produce into the hands of consumers.

Participants will come away from the workshop with an improved awareness and understanding of how fruit varieties and harvest and handling practices can have positive or negative impacts on flavor, and the most current research being conducted to advance the cause of more flavorful produce.

For additional information see the workshop brochure.

Penny Stockdale
Postharvest Technology
(530) 752-7672
[email protected]


Seed Course: February 16–17, 2011

The UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center will offer a two-day course on Seed Biology, Production and Quality to be held February 16–17 at the UC Davis Conference Center. The course is designed for professionals in the seed industry, crop consultants, and growers to update and expand their current knowledge. Participants will learn information on topics including seed development, production, harvesting, testing, conditioning, enhancement, storage, pathology, and quality assessment.

Register by January 7 for a discounted fee of $550. Registration is $650 after January 7. For additional information, visit,_Production_and_Quality_-_2011.html.

Jeannette Martins
UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center
(530) 752-4984
[email protected] 

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CA&ES Currents, the faculty/staff newsletter of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of California, Davis, is published the second Thursday of each month.

News deadline is noon Monday preceding Thursday publication. Send news items to editor, [email protected].

Editor: Robin DeRieux
Writing: Robin DeRieux, Neal Van Alfen
Editorial review: Ann Filmer, Thomas Kaiser

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