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December 19, 2013

Dec 19, 2013 admin

A Message from Interim Dean Mary Delany: New Faculty

Looking back on 2013, I’m pleased to say that our faculty recruitment efforts are yielding exciting new hires across the college. Since January we added 14 new faculty to the college, including 11 assistant professors and three assistant Cooperative Extension specialists. They include:

  • Michele La Merrill
  • Brett Milligan
  • Helen Dahlke
  • Daniele Zaccaria
  • Leah Hibel
  • Chris Simmons
  • Gwen Arnold
  • Roger Baldwin
  • Dalia Ghanem
  • Angela Zivkovic
  • Bruce Linquist
  • David de la Peña
  • Astrid Volder
  • Sheryl-Ann Simpson

These new faculty hires were the result of extensive searches, which are very labor-intensive on the part of department staff and faculty. We appreciate all of that effort, and we appreciate the service of search committee chairs and members on behalf of the college.

To share information about new hires and their areas of expertise, brief profiles of new faculty are posted on the college website. We recently added a dozen new profiles to the site ( (Profiles of Astrid Volder and Sheryl-Ann Simpson, our most recent hires, will be added soon.)

We currently have 17 faculty recruitments under way (I&R/AES and CE), with offers pending for 8 candidates. With our new hires, we are excited to turn the challenge of a wave of faculty retirements (given our faculty age structure) into an opportunity to reinvigorate the college and explore cutting-edge areas of science.

Finally, I’d like to wish everyone a happy, safe, and relaxing holiday break. See you in 2014!

Mary E. Delany

Interim Dean

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences



Gitta Coaker: Chancellor’s Fellow

12 coakerProfessor Gitta Coaker, Department of Plant Pathology, has been selected as one of 10 faculty in the 14th class of Chancellor’s Fellows. Chancellor’s Fellows, all associate professors, are recognized early in their careers for outstanding scholarly work. Each fellow receives a $25,000 prize and the “Chancellor’s Fellow” title for five years. An invitation-only reception for the new fellows will be held later in the academic year.

Mary Delany, interim CA&ES dean, noted in Coaker’s nomination letter that Coaker’s background in plant genetics and molecular biology did not make her an obvious fit for a position in microbial ecology. But the candidate impressed the search committee with her achievements and ability to show how her expertise could be applied in novel ways to the study of plant-associated microbes. That was in 2007, and Coaker has continued to impress in her research of plant-microbe interactions, an important aspect of global food security.

Gitta Coaker
(530) 752-6541


Lou Grivetti: New Book Release

12 grivettiLouis Grivetti, professor emeritus of nutrition, has published a fictional epic titled “Song of Siwa: The Marzuk-Iskander Festival.” Grivetti, who worked at the Siwa and Qara oases of Egypt during the mid-1960s, wrote this fictional epic to honor the residents of these remote desert areas.

With many elements based on historical events, it relates the transcribed oral tradition of a band of early Stone Age hunters, led by Marzuk, who fled southwestern Europe, crossed the Mediterranean Sea to North Africa and ultimately reached safe haven in Siwa. It culminates with the visit of Iskander (Alexander the Great) to Siwa oasis, an event still revered at the oasis today.

Lou Grivetti
(530) 752-2078


Benjamin Houlton: Chancellor’s Fellow

12 houltonProfessor Benjamin Houlton, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, has been selected as one of 10 faculty in the 14th class of Chancellor’s Fellows. Chancellor’s Fellows, all associate professors, are recognized early in their careers for outstanding scholarly work. Each fellow receives a $25,000 prize and the “Chancellor’s Fellow” title for five years. An invitation-only reception for the new fellows will be held later in the academic year.

Mary Delany, interim CA&ES dean, wrote in Houlton’s nomination letter that “his research is big and bold, challenging paradigms in the areas of global climate change and global nitrogen pollution using integrated field and modeling tools.” At the global scale, Houlton’s research has contributed a unifying framework for nitrogen fixation in the terrestrial biosphere, which has tremendous implications for global climate change. At the regional scale, he is providing evidence of the importance of geologically based nitrogen inputs to forest productivity. Houlton joined the UC Davis faculty in 2007. (In the photo, Houlton collects fog water in a Hawaiian rainforest.)

Ben Houlton
(530) 752-2210


Corky Lovin: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Certificate of Appreciation

12 lovinAgricultural specialist Corwyn “Corky” Lovin of the CA&ES International Programs Office received a Certificate of Appreciation from USDA Foreign Agricultural Service administrator Phil Karsting, who recently visited campus to give a talk. Lovin was congratulated for his many years of service delivering short-term agricultural training through the Cochran Fellowship Program. The Cochran Fellowship Program provides training to participants from middle-income countries, emerging markets, and emerging democracies in order to improve their local agricultural systems and strengthen and enhance trade links with the United States.

The Cochran Program started in 1984, and through Lovin, UC Davis became one of the first land-grant universities to participate in the program. Lovin has developed and delivered approximately 200 of these two- to three-week training programs over the past 28 years, with fellows coming from all over the world. Shown in photo, l to r, Corky Lovin and Phil Karsting.

Corky Lovin
CA&ES International Programs
(530) 754-0628

James Seiber: Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

12 seiberJames Seiber, professor emeritus of environmental toxicology, was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, one of 10 UC Davis faculty members appointed as fellows in 2013. He is among 388 new fellows elected this year for efforts to advance science or its applications. Seiber and the other 2013 fellows will be honored in February at the annual AAAS meeting in Chicago.

Seiber has specialized in analytical and environmental chemistry of pesticides and other contaminants. His research involved food chemistry, food safety, and the health benefits of foods. Seiber served on the UC Davis faculty from 1969 to 1992, was founding director of the Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno, and director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California. He returned to UC Davis in 2009 as interim chair of the Department of Food Science and Technology. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

James Seiber
(530) 752-1141



CA&ES Undergraduate Academic Programs Associate Dean Position Announcement

The CA&ES Dean’s Office is accepting nominations and applications for the position of Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs (UAP). Applications are due by January 22, 2014; nominations should be submitted by January 10. The appointment is for five years, with an anticipated start date of approximately March 1, 2014.

The current associate dean for UAP, Diane Ullman, has served in the position for more than eight years. Ullman told Interim Dean Mary Delany that she would like to step down by the start of spring quarter so she can focus on her research, teaching, and professional service programs. Ullman, a professor of entomology, maintained and developed her research and teaching programs during her service as associate dean. She was recently awarded USDA Coordinated Agricultural Project funding.

UAP associate dean applicant materials (CV and brief statement) should be sent to Professor Chris Calvert, who will serve as chair of the search committee. The search committee will review the materials and conduct interviews. The new appointee will be selected by our new dean, Helene Dillard, likely during February 2014.

Chris Calvert
Associate Dean for Graduate Studies
(530) 754-9814


Call for Photos of “Women Feeding the World” for Campus Event

Students, faculty, and staff have until January 10 to submit compelling photos for a January 2014 event, “Women Feeding the World: Farmers, Mothers and CEOs.” The photos will be part of a gallery depicting the ways in which women participate in agriculture, food, and nutrition—whether in fields, packinghouses, markets, labs, business, restaurants, or homes—here in California and around the world.

This event is part of the Campus Community Book Project and is sponsored by the UC Davis World Food Center, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences International Programs Office, Horticulture CRSP, Program in International and Community Nutrition, UC Davis Blum Center, and Freedom from Hunger. Details and the online submission form are at

Brenda Dawson
Horticulture CRSP
(530) 752-7992


Scholarships Available for Nevada County's Sustainable Food and Farm Conference

The fourth annual Nevada County Sustainable Food and Farm Conference, to be held January 18–19, is offering scholarships for free entry to students, academics, and aspiring farmers. Applications for scholarships will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis, as well as consideration for need-based scholarships. Fill out an application at

The conference will meet at the Grass Valley Veterans Hall and next door at the Grass Valley Charter School in Grass Valley. The event brings together a diverse panel of speakers, farming related-businesses and organizations, and local and regional experts for a weekend full of informative lectures, a food and farming exposition, plus numerous workshops for all levels of farming, gardening, and ranching. Complete agenda, workshop listings, and speaker bios are available online at

Chelsea Wright
Nevada County Sustainable Food and Farm Conference


Arboretum Events

For more information, visit the arboretum website:

  • Folk Music Jam Session
    Fridays, December 20, January 3 and 17, 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. Listeners and musicians of all skill levels are welcome.
  • Walk with Warren
    Wednesday, January 8, noon to 1 p.m., Gazebo
    Join Warren Roberts, superintendent emeritus of the arboretum and famous storyteller and punster, for an always engaging noontime exploration of the arboretum’s gardens and plant collections.



Seed Central/Food Central Forum and Networking Event: January 9, 2014

Seed Central/Food Central hosts a monthly forum and networking event to bring together seed and food professionals, UC Davis faculty, scientists, and students. The January 9 event will be held at the UC Davis Conference Center. Networking begins at 4:30 p.m., and the speaker begins at 6 p.m. Next month’s speaker will be Roger Beachy, who joins UC Davis in January as the founding director of the UC Davis World Food Center. Beachy will speak on “Seeds, Agriculture and Food and a Skeptical Public: A Role for the World Food Center in Expanding both the Dialogue and the Impacts of Science.”

The event is free, but an RSVP is requested. More information is available at

Kathleen Bess
Department of Plant Sciences
(530) 754-2162


ASI Distinguished Speaker William C. Clark: January 14, 2014

The Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis hosts Professor William C. Clark of Harvard University at the Distinguished Speakers Series to be held Tuesday, January 14, from 5 to 6 p.m. in the multipurpose room of the Student Community Center. Clark, a professor of international science, public policy and human development, will speak on “Linking Knowledge with Action for Sustainability.” The event is free and open to the public.

Tom Tomich
Agricultural Sustainability Institute
(530) 752-3915  


Methods of Measuring Fruit and Vegetable Quality: January 22, 2014

A postharvest workshop on Methods of Measuring Fruit and Vegetable Quality will be held January 22, 2014, at the UC Davis Conference Center. The principles behind instrumental measurement of flavor, color, and texture will be discussed. The various instruments and methods used will be available in interactive demonstrations. Real-life examples of fresh and processed fruit and vegetable color and texture measurement will be demonstrated. Examples of applications where flavor, color, and texture were measured on a wide variety of vegetables and fruits will be given by workshop instructors.

The course is designed for those working in the fresh produce and processed fruit and vegetable industries. For registration and additional information, visit

Penny Stockdale
Postharvest Technology Center
(530) 752-7672


Current Issues in Invasive/Emerging Pests and Diseases: February 5, 2014

University experts present a program on “Current Issues in Invasive/Emerging Pests and Diseases,” which will meet February 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the UC Davis Conference Center. The event is sponsored by UC Davis Foundation Plant Services, the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN), and the California Center for Urban Horticulture. The cost is $10, and those interested can register at Lunch will be included.

Anne Schellman
California Center for Urban Horticulture
(530) 752-6642


Mead Making Short Course: February 6–8, 2014

The first-of-its-kind Mead Making Short Course, to be held February 6–8 at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, is sold out. Mead—a fermented beverage made of honey and water—is the oldest alcoholic beverage known to the world. Short course topics will include fermentation, filtration, sensory analysis, meadery design, and financing a meadery.

Amina Harris
UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center
(530) 754-9301


Beekeeper’s Feast: February 8, 2014

A mid-winter beekeeper’s feast is planned for Saturday, February 8, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the foyer of the Sensory Building at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. The evening begins with mead cocktails and ends with a mead flight, guided by Darrell Corti. There will be music, dinner, and a silent auction. Single tickets are $125 each, which includes a $50 donation to the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center.

For more information, visit

Tracy Diesslin
Robert Mondavi Institute
(530) 752-5233


Breeding with Genomics Workshop: February 11–13, 2014

The UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center will hold a course on “Breeding with Genomics” on campus, February 11–13. The course is aimed at professionals who are directly or indirectly involved in plant breeding and germplasm improvement. It is taught by experts from both industry and academia.

For more information, see

Sally Mohr

Plant Sciences
(530) 752 5775


Soil Science Ecosystem Services Conference: March 6–9, 2014

The Soil Science Society of America meeting will be held March 6–9 in Sacramento, focusing on “Soil's Role in Restoring Ecosystem Services.” Professional and research scientists, consultants, natural resource managers, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students are invited to the spring meeting.

More information is available at

Jan Hopmans
Department of Land, Air and Water Resources
(530) 752-8473


Fruit Ripening and Retail Handling Workshop: March 25–26, 2014

The UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center presents the annual Fruit Ripening and Retail Handling Workshop, to be help on campus March 25–26. The course will focus on how to increase profits by reducing losses at the receiving end, and delivering ready-to-eat, delicious fruits and vegetables to the consumer.

To learn more about this workshop, or to register, visit

Penny Stockdale

UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center
(530) 752-7672


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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 monthly. Send news items to editor, .

Editor: Robin DeRieux
Writing: Robin DeRieux, Mary E. Delany
Editorial review: Ann Filmer, Thomas Kaiser

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