December 11, 2014
As we wind down the calendar year and prepare to begin anew in 2015, I want to pause and reflect on the tremendous success of our college. For the second year in a row, UC Davis was ranked No. 1 in the world for teaching and research in the area of agriculture and forestry by QS World University Rankings. Part of the reason for this top ranking is the prolific output of our 330 faculty members.
UC Davis is among the most published and cited U.S. research universities in agricultural sciences, plant and animal sciences, environment/ecology, food science and nutrition, and soil sciences. We also do an outstanding job of bringing in resources to help expand the reach, strength, quality, and impact of our programs.
UC Davis is a national leader in securing extramural funding. In fiscal year 2013-2014, grant awards received by CA&ES faculty totaled $143.2 million. Through the first five months of the current fiscal year, the total is $68.5 million (a 5.7 percent increase over the $64.8 million from the same period the previous fiscal year).
These grants fund critical work throughout the research spectrum. For instance, an $18.75 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development extends work by the Horticulture Innovation Lab to support international fruit and vegetable research efforts. A $4.2 million award from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine will support research into health-promoting milk compounds called “glycans” by a team of researchers with the Foods for Health Institute. And a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will fund research by scientists in our Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering for the development of small, inexpensive robots to assist human harvesting of strawberries.
Top honors earned by faculty in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences are another point of pride worth noting, and there were many awards and honors! Here are just a few from 2014:
- Department of Plant Sciences geneticist Jorge Dubcovsky was a recipient of the Wolf Prize in Agriculture for his combined basic and applied approach to improving the nutritional value of wheat.
- Cooperative Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the Department of Entomology and Nematology received special recognition from the California State Beekeepers Association for his many years of work to improve honey bee health and colony management.
- Atmospheric scientist Thomas Cahill, whose long career has focused on airborne particulate matter, received the UC Davis Emeriti Association’s Distinguished Emeritus Award for outstanding scholarly work or service performed by a retired professor.
- Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology, received the Bernard Brodie Award for his research to improve the understanding of human drug metabolism and transport.
- Doug Gubler, a Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Pathology, received a lifetime achievement award from the Association of Applied IPM Ecologists in recognition of his contributions to integrated pest management and applied ecology in grapevine disease research.
- Kay Dewey, distinguished professor in the Department of Nutrition, received the McCollum International Lectureship in Nutrition Award from the American Society for Nutrition for her work on maternal and child nutrition.
- James Sanchirico, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy, was named a recipient of the Academic Senate Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award for his efforts to improve the management of ocean and coastal policy.
- Edward Taylor, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, was named a recipient of the Academic Senate Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award for his contributions to formulating policy in international migration, farm labor, and trade reforms.
- Alison Van Eenennaam, a Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science, won the Borlaug Communication Award from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology for her work speaking to the public and policymakers about agricultural technology.
- Former CA&ES dean Charley Hess, professor emeritus of plant sciences, was honored with the UC Davis Medal, the campus’ premier accolade, for his many years of service as an accomplished administrator during his career and in retirement.
- Luis Guarnizo, a professor in the Department of Human Ecology, received a Prometeo Senior Fellowship from the government of Ecuador for knowledge transfer and joint research between Ecuadorean and international faculty in the area of emigration, immigration, and national and local development.
- International programs dean Jim Hill received the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary’s Honor Award for his leadership of the Afghanistan Agricultural Extension Project and its contributions to global food security.
We reported nearly 50 awards, fellowships, and special honors in Currents this year. I encourage you to notify us in the year ahead when you and your colleagues are singled out for meritorious service in research, teaching, and outreach.
We’ve had a great 2014, and I’m happy to say the future looks bright for 2015 and beyond. We are steadily growing the number of new faculty. Sixteen new faculty members began work in 2014, and another five have been recruited and are scheduled to begin work in 2015. These individuals bring their talents to a broad spectrum of CA&ES departments.
Kudos to everyone—faculty, staff, and students—for a job well done this year. The dedication and enthusiasm for the work you do is a hallmark of our college and helps keep UC Davis one of the most respected research universities in the world. Best wishes for a happy and productive new year.
Helene R. Dillard
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Cal Qualset, professor emeritus in the Department of Plant Sciences, received the Presidential Award from the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) at the organization’s annual convention held in Long Beach in early November.
Qualset has served CSSA in numerous capacities during his 50 years as a member. He was editor-in-chief and president of CSSA, president of the American Society of Agronomy, and was instrumental in establishing the International Crop Science Congress. He organized symposia for CSSA on intellectual property rights for plants and initiated the formation of the Plant Genetic Resources Division.
At UC Davis, Qualset served as department chair, CA&ES associate dean, and founding director of the Genetic Resources Conservation Program. He was the founding interim director of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute and interim director of the Foundation Seed and Plant Materials Service. He was a founding member and coordinator of the International Triticeae Mapping Initiative for 12 years. His team developed and released 28 varieties of wheat, oat, and triticale for California farmers. He published more than 350 research papers, reviews, and reports and taught graduate and undergraduate courses in agronomy, genetics, statistics, genetic resources conservation, and plant breeding. He served as major professor to 60 M.S. and Ph.D. students and organized international projects in Mexico, Spain, Turkey, and Italy.
Qualset has received numerous awards related to his career in plant breeding research, genetic resources conservation, and public service. Since he retired in 1994, he has remained active in wheat research, organized a research farm in Lithuania for a private foundation, and has served on many international boards and review panels.
Department of Plant Sciences
Diane Ullman, a professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology, is among six UC Davis faculty members, and the only member this year in CA&ES, elected to the 2014 class of fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
The membership elected 401 new fellows in all, in recognition of their contributions to innovation, education, and scientific leadership. Ullman’s research focuses on the interactions among insects, viruses, and plants. She also studies the development of strategies for managing disease-causing microorganisms that are transmitted to plants by insects. Earlier in November she received the Entomological Society of America’s distinguished achievement award in teaching.
The association plans to recognize the new class of fellows in February during its annual meeting in San Jose. Founded in 1848, AAAS aims to advance science and society through initiatives that include science policy, international programs, science education, and public understanding of science. With its six new members, UC Davis now has a total of 152 AAAS fellows. Learn more about the other UC Davis professors elected to AAAS in 2014.
Department of Entomology and Nematology
Emeritus professor of entomology Hugh Dingle is the recipient of the Edward A. Dickson Emeriti Professorship. The award will help support research on monarch butterflies on three Pacific islands to determine whether contemporary evolution is occurring through differences in wing span and other changes.
Dickson served as a UC regent from 1913 to 1946, the longest tenure of any regent. In 1955 he presented the university with an endowment to provide for annual special professorships for retired faculty.
Dingle is an international authority on animal migration. He authored two editions of “Migration: The Biology of Life on the Move.” His previous studies reveal that migrant and resident monarchs exhibit different wing shapes.
Dingle will be working with community ecologist Louie Yang and molecular geneticist Joanna Chiu, assistant professors in the Department of Entomology and Nematology, to examine the ecology and physiology of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) on the islands of Oahu (Hawaii), Guam (Marianas) and Weno (Chuuk or Truk).
“This is the necessary first step in a long-term analysis of the evolutionary ecology and physiology of monarch butterflies on remote Pacific islands,” said Dingle, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Animal Behavior Society.
Department of Entomology and Nematology
Trevor Suslow, a Cooperative Extension research specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences, was named one of “The Packer 25,” an honor that recognized fresh produce industry leaders. The awards are published in “The Packer” magazine, a trade publication for the fresh produce industry.
The Packer acknowledged Suslow’s input on high-profile food-safety issues, including the establishment of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement and the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board Food Safety Marketing Order. “There’s no greater benefit to the perishable industry than Trevor Suslow,” said Steve Patricio, president and chief executive of Westside Produce in Firebaugh, Calif.
Suslow, a plant pathologist by training, started working at UC Davis in 1995. His research and outreach program emphasizes microbial safety and disinfection in preharvest and postharvest environments for fresh and fresh-cut horticultural foods. He works closely with the Center for Produce Safety and has served with a number of panels to reduce food safety risks. Read more about Suslow in The Packer.
Department of Plant Sciences
Christine Schmidt, CA&ES assistant dean for advancement, reports from a recent trip to North Carolina that a UC Davis alumnus is building an Aggie network there and is keenly interested in meeting with CA&ES faculty members traveling to the “research triangle” area of that state.
CA&ES faculty are encouraged to contact the College Advancement Team when preparing to travel to North Carolina and other parts of the country to coordinate visits with similar Aggie networks.
CA&ES College Advancement Team
Nominations for the Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award are due January 5, 2015. The award was established in memory of Eric Bradford, professor of animal science, and in memory of Charlie Rominger, a fifth-generation farmer and well-known advocate of farmland preservation and wildlife habitat restoration. The award recognizes and honors individuals who exhibit the leadership, work ethic, and integrity epitomized by Bradford and Rominger. Members of the UC Davis community are invited to nominate UC farm advisors and Cooperative Extension specialists, as well as UC Davis graduate students, faculty members, and in special cases, alumni, for their work toward agricultural sustainability. Nominees for the award should demonstrate leadership with a broad understanding of agricultural systems and the environment.
The recipient will receive a cash award and may be invited to give a lecture sponsored by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, which manages the award selection process. For nomination forms and more information about the award, visit the ASI website. The award recipient will be announced in spring 2015.
Agricultural Sustainability Institute
For more information, visit the arboretum website: http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu.
Folk Music Jam Session
Friday, December 19, noon–1 p.m., Wyatt Deck
Folk musicians are invited to bring their acoustic instruments and play together informally over the lunch hour. All skill levels are welcome, and listeners are invited.
Seed Central hosts speakers and networking events that bring together seed and food professionals, UC Davis faculty, scientists, and students. Networking for the December 11, 2014 event runs from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Buehler Alumni Center.
The featured speaker is Ian Korf, a UC Davis associate professor in molecular and cellular biology. His talk from 6 to 7 p.m. is “From bench to keyboard and back: integrating experimental molecular biology and bioinformatics to understand intron-mediated enhancement.”
Future speakers include:
- January 8, 2015—Professor Bruce German, director of the Foods for Health Institute, will discuss the Innovation Institute for Food and Health.
- February 12, 2015—Alex Cochran, global director for research and development with DuPont Seed Treatment Enterprise, will discuss recent advances in seed applied technology.
These events are free, but an RSVP is requested. More information is available at http://www.seedcentral.org/calendarofevents.htm.
Department of Plant Sciences
Rob Atwill, a professor in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, will present a seminar January 12, 2015 from 4 to 5 p.m. for the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety.
His topic is “Zoonotic pathogen exposure on modern livestock systems: water, manure, and the crud under your fingernail can kill you.” Atwill is the director of Veterinary Medicine Extension and director of the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security.
Location of the seminar is the Center for Health and the Environment on Old Davis Road, about one mile south of campus. This lecture is free and open to the public. No parking permit is required.
Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety
The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center will host its second annual “Midwinter beekeepers feast—a taste of mead and honey” on Saturday, January 31, 2015, from 6 to 9 p.m. The event will be held in the foyer of the sensory building at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.
The event is described as an elegant evening of food and drink, including mead beverages. The menu has been designed by Ann Evans, founder of Yolo County Slow Food and the Davis Farmers Market. Catering is by the Buckhorn Steakhouse restaurant in Winters, Calif. Proceeds support the center’s efforts to become the world’s leading authority on honey bee health, pollination, and honey quality. Tickets to this event are $125 each. Contact the Honey and Pollination Center for additional information.
Honey and Pollination Center
Robert Mondavi Institute
“Seed biology, production, and quality” will be held February 10–12, 2015 at the UC Davis Conference Center and Buehler Alumni Center. The course, offered by the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center, is intended for seed industry professionals, new employees, consultants, and producers.
Delivering improved varieties and crop protection through high-quality seed is a vital component of modern agricultural production systems. Seed producers must have an understanding of the biological factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of seed health, vigor, and viability, and how those qualities are measured. This course presents the scientific background for production, handling, storage, and quality control procedures in the seed industry and also includes new information on seed pathology and seed enhancement.
Early-bird registration is $750 until December 15, 2014; $850 thereafter. For additional information about the course curriculum, faculty instructors, and to register, please visit the SBC website about the event.
Seed Biotechnology Center
The 21st annual Fruit Ripening and Retail Handling Workshop takes place March 17–18, 2015 at the UC Davis Buehler Alumni Center. Presented by the UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center, the workshop is intended for shippers and fruit handlers (wholesale and retail), and produce managers who are involved in handling and ripening fruits and fruit vegetables.
The workshop focuses on how to increase profits by reducing losses at the receiving end and delivering ready-to-eat fruits and fruit vegetables to consumers. In addition to studies on harvest maturity, storage conditions, and flavor quality, the program focuses on regulation of fruit ripening and cellular regulation of calcium deficiency disorders.
Registration for this course is $795. To learn more visit the course website.
UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center
Enrollment is now open for the 37th annual short course on Postharvest Technology of Horticultural Crops. The two-week course will be held June 15–26, 2015 at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center.
The short course, organized by the UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center, is an intensive study of the biology and current technologies used for handling fruits, nuts, vegetables, and ornamentals in California. It is designed for research and extension workers, quality control personnel in the produce industry, and business, government, or academic professionals interested in current advances in the postharvest technology of horticultural crops. The course will be of particular interest to technical professionals responsible for quality assurance, research, and extension activities related to fresh produce quality, safety, and marketability.
The two-week lecture and field trip option is limited to 55 participants; registration fee is $2,995. A one-week lecture-only option is limited to 25 participants; registration fee is $1,975. To learn more and to register visit the course website.
UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center
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Visit CA&ES Currents online at http://www.caes.ucdavis.edu/news/publications/currents.
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: John Stumbos
Writing: John Stumbos, Helene Dillard, Robin DeRieux
Editorial review: Ann Filmer, Julie Fritz-Rubert, Thomas Kaiser, Christine Schmidt
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