CA&ES Currents Newsletter  icon newspaper

June 20, 2013

Jun 20, 2013 Robin DeRieux

A Message from Dean Mary Delany: Commencement and Summer Regards

We enjoyed two lovely blue-sky Sunday commencement ceremonies at the Pavilion on June 16. More than 1,200 students were conferred degrees and presented as graduates of CA&ES at our two ceremonies—that was a lot of handshaking! More than 10,000 tickets were distributed to the family, friends, and supporters of our graduates. The Pavilion was packed full at each event, and the energy in the room was remarkable. I would like to extend a special thank you to more than 60 staff who supported both ceremonies—yet again, on Father’s Day.

Each ceremony ran like clockwork due to the professionalism of the planning team (thank you Francesca Ross and the entire team in the Dean’s Office) and the support of the departments, as well as the staff who contributed during the events. Professor Chris Calvert, chair of the CA&ES Executive Committee for 2012–2013, led the stage party procession and acted as commencement marshal. Both ceremonies were webcast (

We enjoyed a wonderful rendition of the national anthem by Carol Simmons from the Dean’s Office, along with an onstage Presentation of Colors by the UC Davis ROTC Color Guard. Our student speakers, Stephanie Marie Sapin and Johnita Lanni-Cradit, were fabulous in speaking to the student experience and on being an Aggie!

The College Medal, given to the outstanding CA&ES graduate in recognition of academic achievement as well as extracurricular activities, was awarded during the afternoon ceremony to Rachel Ferris, who graduated with a B.S. in wildlife, fish and conservation biology.

The Mary Regan Meyer Award, recognizing commitment to serving others and bettering humanity, was presented to two undergraduates. The first was Maya Brazil Biery, who double-majored in environmental policy analysis and in planning and economics. Also honored was Siraphat “Fay” Taesuwan, who majored in food science and technology.

The Charles Hess Community Service Award was presented to two undergraduates for exemplary public service. The awardees were Hannah Goldner, human development, and Robel Haile, who double-majored in managerial economics and international relations.

I encourage you to put the following graduation dates on your calendar now for the 2013–2014 ceremonies. The joint college December ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, December 14. And new for next year, the spring ceremonies will be held Friday, June 13, at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. In future years, we will be in a rotation for the Friday and Sunday spring ceremonies, so we look forward to the participation of many chairs and faculty in the 2014 event!

Finally, I would like to wish everyone a terrific summer season. During the break, I hope you all have the opportunity to become reinvigorated for the new academic year.

Mary E. Delany

Interim Dean

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

[email protected]



Marissa Baskett: Ecological Society of America Early Career Fellow

baskettThe Ecological Society of America (ESA) named Professor Marissa Baskett, environmental science and policy, as an early career fellow for 2013. Early career fellows are members typically within eight years of receiving their Ph.D. who have already made outstanding contributions to a wide range of fields served by ESA. This year the ESA selected six early career fellows.

Baskett’s lab focuses on theoretical population, community, and evolutionary ecology applied to conservation biology, particularly in marine systems. Baskett completed her doctoral studies at Princeton University and was a postdoctoral scholar at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis prior to joining the UC Davis faculty in 2008.

Marissa Baskett
(530) 752-6874
[email protected]


Paul Gepts: USDA Lecture


Professor Paul Gepts of the Department of Plant Sciences has been selected by the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to give a lecture in July at the B. Y. Morrison Memorial Lecture series in Palm Desert, California. The lecture series was established in 1968 by ARS to honor the memory of horticulturalist Benjamin Y. Morrison and to recognize scientists who have made outstanding contributions to horticulture and other environmental sciences, to encourage the use of these sciences, and to stress the urgency of preserving and enhancing natural beauty.

Gepts’ research and teaching program focuses on crop biodiversity and genetic resources. Gepts combines field and laboratory approaches to the evolutionary processes that shape the diversity of crops and their wild progenitors, with a focus on beans and cowpea, as well as Mesoamerican domesticates.

He is active in the African Bean Consortium project, funded by the Kirkhouse Trust, which seeks to develop a marker-assisted selection capability in East African bean breeding programs. In 2012, he took over the grain legume breeding program at UC Davis, which focuses on the development of new varieties of lima and common bean and garbanzos for the state of California.

Paul Gepts
(530) 752-7743
[email protected]

Susan Harrison: Ecological Society of America Fellow


Professor Susan Harrison, environmental science and policy, has been named a fellow by the Ecological Society of America for outstanding contributions to the field. Harrison was one of 17 ESA members elected as fellows for 2013.

Harrison joined the UC Davis faculty in 1991. Her fields of interest include plant ecology, diversity, and conservation. Her major area of emphasis is spatial ecology, which examines the influence of heterogeneous environments on populations, communities, and patterns of diversity. She is an expert on endemic plants that survive in the harsh soils of serpentine outcroppings. Harrison’s research also examines the effects of natural and human-caused climatic variation on endemic plant communities that are dependent on particular soils.

Susan Harrison
(530) 752-7110
[email protected]

Rose Hayden-Smith: Bradford-Rominger Award


Rose Hayden-Smith of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) is the 2013 recipient of the Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award. The award honors individuals who exhibit the leadership, work ethic, and integrity epitomized by the late Eric Bradford, a livestock geneticist who gave 50 years of service to UC Davis, and the late Charlie Rominger, a fifth-generation Yolo County farmer and land preservationist.

Hayden-Smith has been a UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor in Ventura County for 4-H youth, family and community development since 1992. Since March 2011, she has served as the leader for ANR’s strategic initiative in sustainable food systems.

Hayden-Smith was honored by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at a May ceremony that included a speech from Craig McNamara, an organic farmer, president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, and the president of the Center for Land-based Learning. McNamara spoke on “Changing the Way We Think about Food.”

Rose Hayden-Smith
[email protected]

Daniel Sperling: Blue Planet Prize


Professor Daniel Sperling, director of the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies, is one of two recipients of the 2013 Blue Planet Prize. The prize, announced in June by the Asahi Glass Foundation of Tokyo, has been described as the Nobel Prize for the environmental sciences.

Sperling is an international expert on transportation technology, fuels, and policy, with a focus on energy and environment. His research is directed at accelerating the global transition to cleaner, more efficient transportation and energy, and mitigating climate change. The prize, which comes with a $500,000 (50 million yen) award, recognizes Sperling for his unique ability to bring together the top thinkers and strategists in academia, government, and industry to develop new vehicle- and fuels-policy approaches that are models for the world. Sperling was chosen to receive the Blue Planet Prize from among 106 candidates representing 27 countries.

Sperling has appointments in both the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and the Department of Civil Engineering. He founded the Institute of Transportation Studies in 1991.

This year is the 22nd year of the Blue Planet Prize. Sperling will travel to Tokyo for the awards ceremony and a commemorative lecture in October.

Dan Sperling
(510) 387-5438
[email protected]

Lisa Thompson: Best Paper Award


The American Society of Civil Engineers has honored UC Davis for the second year in a row with the Best Research-Oriented Paper Award for work published in the society’s “Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management.”

Cooperative Extension specialist Lisa Thompson of the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology served as lead author on the winning article, “Water Management Adaptations to Prevent Loss of Spring-Run Chinook Salmon in California Under Climate Change.”

Thompson accepted the 2013 award during the World Environmental and Resources Congress in Cincinnati. She collaborated on the paper with Peter Moyle, Christopher Mosser, Marisa Escobar, David Purkey, and David Yates.

“We developed a multidisciplinary decision-support tool incorporating future climate, water supply and management, and fish population biology, to test the effectiveness of different water management adaptions in providing cool water for salmon in a warmer world,” said Thompson.

Lisa Thompson
(530) 754-5732
[email protected]

Kimiora Ward: Outstanding Citation for Excellence


Staff research associate Kimiora Ward was one of 15 UC Davis staff members honored in late May by the UC Davis Staff Assembly. Ward, of the Neal Williams lab in the Department of Entomology and Nematology, received an Outstanding Citation for Excellence at the ceremony, held at the Gunrock campus pub and restaurant on campus.

Ward is a leader in the development of native plants for pollinators and methods for their restoration. She currently manages several projects researching the use of native forbs (herbaceous flowering plants other than a grass) to support wild pollinator populations in agricultural landscapes of central California.

Staff Assembly singled out three individuals as the overall winners, and one as the outstanding team. Three individuals, including Ward, were named outstanding citation recipients and one team was selected for an outstanding citation.

Kimiora Ward
[email protected]



Arboretum Events

For more information, visit the arboretum website:

As You Like It
Thursday–Sunday, June 13–30, 8 p.m., UC Davis Arboretum Gazebo, also Sunday, 6:30 p.m.
The Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Davis Shakespeare Ensemble present one of Shakespeare's most celebrated comedies, “As You Like It,” in a version inspired by Appalachian culture and music. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students/seniors, and $10 for children 12 and under. Purchase tickets via the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble website:

Folk Music Jam Session
Friday, June 21, 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 welcome.



AgStart Launch: June 25, 2013

The public launch of AgStart, which will accelerate new agricultural technology ventures in the Sacramento region, will be held Tuesday, June 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Club Pheasant restaurant in West Sacramento.

AgStart aims to jumpstart companies that are developing and bringing to market products and services with applications in food and agriculture. One example would be new devices to improve soil, water, and energy management. Another would be new seeds or plant varieties with better genomic or production attributes.

AgStart is spearheaded by SARTA, a non-profit organization that accelerates the growth and development of technology companies and the technology sector in the Sacramento region. Collaborating with SARTA on AgStart is Seed Central, an initiative of the Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis and SeedQuest that has been joined by others in the global seed and food industry.

General admission for the event is $40 per person, or $50 at the door. SARTA members pay $20 in advance or $25 at the door. To register:

Kathleen Bess
Department of Plant Sciences
(530) 754-2162
[email protected]


Extreme Precipitation Symposium: June 25, 2013

The 2013 California Extreme Precipitation Symposium will be held on Tuesday, June 25, at Freeborn Hall. This year’s theme is “Improving Precipitation and Runoff Forecasts and Implications for Reservoir Operations." The event will be held from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. and is sponsored in part by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.

Registration is $90, or $45 for students. More information is available at

Gary Estes
Symposium coordinator
(530) 889-9025


Weed Day: July 11, 2013

The 57th annual Weed Day will be held Thursday, July 11, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., initially meeting on campus at the Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center. The day starts with a bus tour of various weed-science research plots, followed by lunch. In the afternoon, staff and students will present information on projects that are either not in-season, or else located too far away for viewing.

The cost is $90 for registration received before or on June 28, $120 for registration received after June 28, and $50 for students with a valid student ID. For more details and to register, see and click on “Weed Day.”

Gale Pérez
UC Weed Research and Information Center
(530) 752-1748
[email protected]


Film Premier “Wings of Life”: July 24, 2013


A premier showing of Disneynature’s film about flowers and pollinators, “Wings of Life,” will be held at the UC Davis Conference Center on July 24 at 6:30 p.m. The showing will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, Louie Schwartzberg.

The event is sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and the UC Davis School of Education. The film is narrated by Meryl Steep.

Tickets are $5. For more registration and more information, see

Tracy Diesslin
Robert Mondavi Institute
(530) 752-5233
[email protected]

Program Management for Plant Breeders: September 17–19, 2013

“Program Management for Plant Breeders,” to be held in MU II at UC Davis on September 17–19, is designed to enhance management skills of plant breeders and technical leads. Professionals directing these programs in agricultural research, in agribusiness development, and those from the public sector will benefit from attending this course.

Registration costs $850, and includes course materials and lunch. More information is available at

Seed Biotechnology Center
Sue DiTomaso
(530) 754-7333
[email protected]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Visit CA&ES Currents online at

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, [email protected].

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

To be added to or deleted from this electronic newsletter list, please send an e-mail to: [email protected].

The University of California does not discriminate in any of its policies, procedures, or practices. The university is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.

Student News

Design It, Build It

Aug 21, 2015 Truscott donation allows landscape architecture students to dig in.

Student News - More Student News…
Research News

UC Davis Receives Unique, $1.5 Million Gift from Aggie Couple

Jul 07, 2016 Michael and Joelle Hurlston have pledged $1.5 million to endow a first-of-its-kind chair position.

Research News - More Research News…
Outreach News

Summer Internships

Jul 28, 2015 CA&ES students and Salinas Valley employers find common ground.

Outreach News - More Outreach News…