CA&ES Currents Newsletter  icon newspaper

April 9, 2015


A Message from Dean Helene Dillard: Cultivating sustainability

06 helenedillardOne of the things I’ve come to appreciate about UC Davis is how well we engage a wide array of individuals and organizations to find solutions to the issues facing California. Over the spring break, two events were held here on campus that revolved around themes of sustainability. My staff attended both events and reported a few highlights to share with you.

The first event was called Closing the Loop and focused on integrating the food supply chain for sustainable profitability. Hosted by the California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research, speakers from the university and from private industry shared recent developments in precision agriculture, biologics, greenhouse production, hydroponics, and other areas that are seeking to reduce the waste stream while providing products that can revitalize the soil and generate renewable energy for processing.

Land, Air and Water Resources professor Kate Scow discussed her work evaluating organic waste amendments such as biodigestates, biosolids, and biochar on soil, soil microbes, and crops. Another talk focused on a new product derived from a beneficial microbe that may improve nutrient uptake and thus reduce the need for fertilizers. Also, the West Sacramento company California Safe Soil is recycling waste food from area grocery stores into liquid fertilizer that is being used by farmers. In a similar vein, CleanWorld, the company that licensed the anaerobic digester technology developed by biological and agricultural engineering professor Ruihong Zhang, is producing fertilizer products—as well as electricity—from the biodigester plant it operates west of campus. And food science and technology professor Chris Simmons presented information about his promising “bio-solarization” research that is investigating the use of food waste and compost to heat the soil and prevent the growth of soilborne pathogens, nematodes, and weeds, thereby reducing the need for soil fumigation with synthetic chemicals.

The second event was the California Climate and Agriculture Summit. The event was hosted by the college and organized by the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN), a nonprofit group that represents sustainable agriculture organizations and groups working with California farmers. The summit sought to explore the science, policy, and practice of climate change and sustainable agriculture. It drew a large and diverse crowd of farmers and ranchers, agency staff, policymakers, and university researchers from our campus and elsewhere.

One panel moderated by plant sciences professor Valerie Eviner addressed research on farming practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon in California row crops, perennials, and rangelands. Kerri Steenwerth, an adjunct professor in viticulture and enology, discussed the use of “climate smart” agricultural practices such as cover crops and compost in grapes and almonds. In a related session, plant sciences professor Emilio Laca and land, air and water resources Cooperative Extension specialist Toby O’Geen talked about some of the tools, particularly prescribed grazing, that can enhance soil quality and maintain essential ecosystem services such as biodiversity and the provision of water. Eviner also discussed the potential to store carbon on rangelands and noted a project that is investigating soil type, topography, management practices, and other factors and their impact on different ecosystem services.

Nothing can replace the exchange of ideas that takes place in meetings like this. It’s much more than outreach. It’s an important way to stay connected with the “real world” and the challenges we face. It’s how others learn about our research. It’s how partnerships form and evolve. And it’s where new technologies are shared. Our university provides a crucial fulcrum for society to move forward on issues of sustainability and many other areas.

Helene R. Dillard
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences


Isao Fujimoto to receive Bradford–Rominger Sustainable Agriculture Leadership Award

04 fujimotoIsao Fujimoto will receive the Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Sustainable Agriculture Leadership Award at a ceremony April 23, at 5 p.m. in the Student Community Center multipurpose room. A reception will follow.

The award, presented by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, recognizes a leader in California’s sustainable agriculture work. Fujimoto, who came to UC Davis as a rural sociologist in 1967, is a senior lecturer emeritus in the Department of Human Ecology and in Asian American Studies. Fujimoto specializes in strategies for community empowerment, rural revitalization, celebrations and symbols for building community solidarity, sustainable agriculture, and appropriate technology.

He has been the project facilitator for the Central Valley Partnership for Citizenship, an organization that helps immigrants and poor communities. He also teaches two community and regional development courses off campus each year. Fujimoto was instrumental in the creation of the Department of Applied Behavioral Sciences in the college during the 1970s. The department eventually became the Department of Human and Community Development and is now the Department of Human Ecology. He also helped found the Asian American Studies program and was twice its leader.

UC Davis alumna Navina Khanna is the keynote speaker for the award ceremony. She works as a food justice activist organizing across communities for equitable and ecological food systems on local, regional and national levels. Khanna won the 2014 James Beard Leadership Award.

The award ceremony is free and open to the public. Students are encouraged to attend. Please RSVP by April 16 to Dianne Stassi at 530-752-3915 or [email protected]. Learn more about the award.

Isao Fujimoto
Department of Human Ecology
[email protected]

Beth Mitcham to receive ASHS Outstanding International Horticulturist Award

04 bethBeth Mitcham, director of the Postharvest Technology Center and the Horticulture Innovation Lab, has been selected as the recipient of the 2015 Outstanding International Horticulturist Award from the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS). She will be honored in August at the ASHS awards ceremony in New Orleans.

The award recognizes a horticulturist who has made outstanding and valuable contributions to international horticultural science, education, research, and/or outreach for at least 10 years. Mitcham is a UC Cooperative Extension specialist and pomologist who focuses on the postharvest biology and technology of fruits, especially apples, pears, cherries, strawberries, mangos, blueberries, and raspberries, as well as almonds and walnuts. In addition to studies on harvest maturity, storage conditions and flavor quality, she also examines regulation of fruit ripening in pears, and cellular regulation of calcium deficiency disorders in tomato and apple. Mitcham’s program develops strategies for postharvest insect control in harvested and exported commodities, including citrus and table grapes.

ASHS promotes and encourages national and international interest in scientific research and education in horticulture. The organization has more than 2,500 members in 60 countries around the world.

Beth Mitcham
Postharvest Technology Center
Horticulture Innovation Lab
[email protected]

Thomas Scott to receive award for outstanding accomplishments in entomology

04 thomasscottMedical entomologist Thomas Scott, a distinguished professor in the Department of Entomology and Nematology, is recipient of the 2015 C.W. Woodworth Award from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America (PBESA).

The award is presented to a PBESA member for outstanding accomplishments in entomology and is named after the UC Berkeley entomologist who helped found the Department of Entomology at UC Davis.

Scott is an authority on the epidemiology of mosquito-borne diseases, mosquito ecology, mosquito-virus interactions, and mosquito control and prevention. 

He is particularly well-known for his work on dengue. In 2013, Scott and colleagues published research indicating that dengue is much more prevalent than originally thought—more than triple the World Health Organization estimates. Scott's research lab received nearly $10 million in grants in 2014 to study dengue.

Scott will receive the award in Idaho at the organization’s annual meeting in April. Read more.

Thomas Scott
Department of Entomology and Nematology
[email protected]

Haig Zeronian receives lifetime achievement award from textile association

04 Haig ZeronianTextiles and clothing professor emeritus S. Haig Zeronian is the 2015 recipient of the Olney Medal for outstanding lifetime achievement in a field of major importance to textile science. The award is presented by the Association of Textile, Apparel and Materials Professionals.

Zeronian has made significant contributions to understanding the relationship of fiber structure and properties for natural and manufactured products, manufactured fiber structure, and degradation mechanisms, as well as the location of water, dyes, and textile finishes in cotton fibers. He has studied many aspects of textile finishing, including the influence of moisture on the flame resistance of fabrics, the effect of structure and morphology on the properties of cellulosic fibers, and other areas. Zeronian has published more than 120 papers and three textbooks, and has presented more than 75 technical talks at professional meetings.

The association presented the Olney Medal at an awards luncheon in March during the organization’s international conference in Savannah, Georgia.

S. Haig Zeronian
Division of Textiles and Clothing
[email protected]


Training in Chile helps establish processes to improve environmental decision-making

04 chileJeff Loux, department chair at UC Davis Extension and an adjunct professor in landscape architecture and environmental design (Department of Human Ecology), recently worked with the Chilean government, community leaders, and private industry in Chile to improve environmental decision-making on major investment projects.

Under the auspices of the UC Davis Extension Collaboration Center, Loux and fellow facilitator Tara Zagofsky engaged in a series of trainings and case study analyses in Chile with government institutions, private consulting firms, and energy companies. The goal was to establish a process for connecting companies and local communities at the outset of major investment projects in areas such as renewable energy, infrastructure development, and integrated watershed management.

Loux and Zagofsky worked through the Chilean Council for Clean Production, part of the Chilean Ministry of the Economy. They also met with Chilean leaders to discuss previous projects and how a lack of public involvement led to environmental disasters such as a toxic river spill that decimated the population of black-necked swans in the Valdivia region.

“We have been honored to assist the Chilean agency,” Loux said. “They are really trying to listen to their communities and give a genuine voice to the public on critical environmental issues. I'm so impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the agency staff.”

Jeff Loux
Department of Human Ecology
[email protected]

Arboretum and Public Garden events

For more information, visit the arboretum website:

Folk Music Jam Sessions
Fridays, April 10 and 24, May 8 and 22, 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.

Public Plant Sales
Saturdays, April 11 and 25, May 16, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Arboretum Teaching Nursery
The UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery opens its doors to the public for three plant sales this spring. The arboretum has a large assortment of regionally adapted, water thrifty, and beautiful plants that would help spruce up the yard. The nursery is located toward the west end of the arboretum on Garrod Drive. Arboretum members receive 10 percent off plant purchases.

“Rang Barsey”—a Celebration of Holi
Sunday, April 12, noon to 4 p.m., Arboretum Gazebo
The Indian Graduate Student Association in collaboration with the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden present “Rang Barsey” —a Celebration of Holi. This celebration of joy involves colors, water, and Indian food at the Arboretum Gazebo. For pricing and more information, please email .

Walk with Warren
Wednesdays, May 13 and June 10, noon, west end gardens, meet at the gazebo
Join Warren Roberts, superintendent emeritus of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, to discover seasonal color in the arboretum’s gardens and plant collections.

Nature Discovery Drop-in Days
Sunday, April 26, Saturdays, May 9 and 16, noon to 2 p.m., Arboretum GATEway Garden (adjacent to Davis Commons Shopping Center)
Drop in on an all-ages program at the east end of the arboretum. Topics include ecology, biodiversity, sustainability, and more. Enjoy hands-on activities and demonstrations.

Arboretum GATEway Garden Public Dedication
Sunday, May 3, 1 to 3 p.m., Arboretum GATEway Garden (adjacent to Davis Commons Shopping Center)
Join a free festival to dedicate the newest garden—the Arboretum GATEway Garden. This beautiful garden provides a new entry to the campus and the arboretum. It showcases plants native to the region, sustainable features, and community connections. The festival includes hands-on activities for all ages, garden tours, music, and refreshments.

What the funk?
Saturday, May 2, 7 p.m., Wyatt Deck
Attend a free evening of music with jazz funk band Dank Ocean! Appropriate for adults and sponsored by the Arboretum Ambassadors.

Ethnobotany Tour in the Arboretum
Sunday, May 3, 2:15 to 3:30 p.m., Wyatt Deck
Learn about the many ways plants can be used. A free guided ethnobotany tour will be followed by a tea tasting. This event is sponsored by the Arboretum Ambassadors.

Stargazing in the White Flower Garden
Friday, May 15, 9 p.m., Arboretum Gazebo
Join a relaxed evening appreciating the night sky. Appropriate for the whole family, this free event is sponsored by the Arboretum Ambassadors.

Camp Shakespeare
Session One (ages 8–12): July 6–17, Monday–Friday; Session Two (ages 8–12): July 20–31, Monday–Friday
The Davis Shakespeare Ensemble and the arboretum invite campers to participate in Camp Shakespeare for exciting theater games, acting workshops, and a special camp production. This summer campers will play pirates, clowns, and long-lost twins in one of Shakespeare’s best comedies, Twelfth Night. For more details and online enrollment, visit


Seed Central networking event: April 9, 2015

Seed Central hosts speakers and networking events that bring together seed and food professionals, UC Davis faculty, scientists, and students. The April 9 event will be held in the UC Davis Conference Center.

Networking runs from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The featured speaker is Joseph DiTomaso, UC Cooperative Extension weed specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences. His topic is the interaction of seed biology in weed and invasive plant management.

The May 14 Seed Central event will feature Charles Brummer, director of the UC Davis Plant Breeding Center. This event will also include afternoon talks by Allen Van Deynze, research director for the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Center, and Heather Koshinsky, with Eureka Genomics. On June 25, Seed Central will be held in Salinas and feature USDA/ARS research geneticist Ryan Hayes discussing lettuce breeding and genetics.

These events are free, but an RSVP is requested. Register for the April 9 event. More information is available at

Kathleen Bess-Esparza
Department of Plant Sciences

Plant Breeding Symposium: April 10, 2015

04 khushThe 2015 UC Davis Plant Breeding Symposium—Challenges in Plant Breeding: Past, Present, and Future— will be held April 10 in the Student Community Center.

The event runs 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Speakers include Howie Smith, DuPont Pioneer; Isabelle Goldringer, INRA; Louise Sperling, Catholic Relief Services; Dani Zamir, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Andy Baumgarten, DuPont Pioneer; and Jean-Marcel Ribaut, Generation Challenge Program. In addition, two students will present talks.

The symposium is sponsored by DuPont Pioneer. A networking opportunity sponsored by Sierra Nevada and Sundstrom Hill Winery will be held after the symposium for registered attendees. Registration is free and includes lunch.

Nicolas Cobo
Department of Plant Sciences
[email protected]

Amanda Pietras
Seed Biotechnology Center
[email protected]

Ag Innovation Entrepreneurship Academy: April 21–23, 2015

An Ag Innovation Entrepreneurship Academy will take place at the Buehler Alumni Center, April 21–23. The academy is designed for upper-division undergrads, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty working in food- and agriculture-related fields.

The academy combines lectures, practical exercises, networking sessions, and hands-on experiences to help participants explore how their research can make a broader impact in industry, the marketplace, and the world. Attendees will learn how to identify market needs and opportunities, develop a network of experts to support ventures, and create agriculture “food chain” clusters of innovation.

Nonrefundable payment is due upon acceptance to the academy. Registration is $250 for in-state participants. The fee is $500 for those not from California. The application deadline is April 10. The academy has been organized by the Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, part of the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. Learn more.

Niki Peterson
Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
[email protected]

Popular “Rose Days” returns: May 2–3, 2015

04 roses“Rose Days” will be held at Foundation Plant Services on May 2–3. This popular and free event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, several speakers will share rose-growing tips from 10 a.m. to noon. The speakers are talented and engaging rosarians from the Sacramento Rose Society. Also on Saturday, Foundation Plant Services will have a rose tissue culture booth, where attendees can learn about rose viruses. On both days, master gardeners will have a booth to answer questions about roses and other gardening topics. A highlight of Rose Days is a bus tour through eight acres of blooming roses. The tour runs every half hour from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. on both days.

One free miniature rose will be given to participants (while supplies last). A large selection of roses will be for sale, including hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas and English-style roses. Rose experts will be on hand to help attendees choose the best roses for their landscapes. Sweet potato plants will also be for sale.

No registration is required. Location is 455 Hopkins Road. Parking is along Straloch Road.

Anne Schellman
California Center for Urban Horticulture
[email protected]

Are pesticides making you fat?: May 4, 2015

Michele La Merrill, a professor in the UC Davis Department of Environmental Toxicology, will present a seminar Monday, May 4, from 4 to 5 p.m. for the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety. Her topic: “Are pesticides making you fat?”

Location of the seminar is the Center for Health and the Environment on Old Davis Road, about one mile south of campus. The lecture is free and open to the public. No parking permit is required.

Suzette Smiley-Jewell
Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety
[email protected]

Keeping Bees Healthy symposium: May 9, 2015

The Honey and Pollination Center and the Department of Entomology and Nematology are hosting a symposium, “Keeping Bees Healthy,” at the UC Davis Conference Center on May 9.

The educational program is designed for beekeepers of all experience levels, including gardeners, farmers, and anyone interested in the world of pollination and bees. Speakers include UC Davis honey bee scientists Brian Johnson and Elina Lastro Niño; UC Davis native bee scientist Neal Williams; Iowa State University bee scientist Amy Toth; and University of Minnesota professor Marla Spivak. The event also includes graduate student research posters, the latest in beekeeping equipment, books, honey, plants, and a tour of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven.

Registration is $75 ($25 for students), which includes a continental breakfast, lunch, and post-event reception. Read more.

Amina Harris
Honey and Pollination Center
[email protected]

Stephanie Shimada
Robert Mondavi Institute
[email protected]

Grain/Alfalfa Field Day: May 12, 2015

The annual Grain/Alfalfa Field Day will be held May 12 at the UC Davis Agronomy Headquarters.

The first half of the program, from 8 a.m. to noon, features the latest information on breeding for wheat, barley, oats, and triticale.  A barbecue lunch at noon is sponsored by the California Crop Improvement Association. From 1 to 4:30 p.m. researchers will update growers and others on developments with alfalfa, sorghum, and corn. Information on irrigation is part of the afternoon program.

Agronomy Headquarters is located on Hutchison Road, one-half mile west of Highway 113.

Dan Putnam
Department of Plant Sciences
[email protected]

Postdoctoral Research Symposium: May 14, 2015

03_postdoctoralUC Davis postdoctoral researchers will be giving 10-minute talks and displaying posters at a research symposium to be held May 14 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Memorial Union. Awards will be given for the best talks and posters.

Nationwide, 50 percent of scientific articles have a postdoc as first author. UC Davis has approximately 800 postdoctoral researchers, and more than 200 of them are in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Organizers of the Postdoctoral Research Symposium expect 54 short talks and 50 posters. About 120 abstracts were submitted before the deadline. Selection of presenters will be made April 17.

The entire campus community is welcome to attend the free symposium. Lunch will be provided to registered participants. Registration will be open until May 1. Learn more and register.

Kaisa Kajala
UC Davis Genome Center
[email protected]

Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Field Day: May 21, 2015

04 russellranchScientists and industry leaders will share the latest research on nitrogen management at the 2015 Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Field Day. The field day will be held from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 21, at the Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility west of campus.

The field day brings together farmers, students, researchers, and UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors and specialists to discuss sustainable agriculture. The theme this year is nitrogen cycling and management, focusing on farm-level and statewide considerations for nitrogen flows.

Registration begins April 21 and will remain open until May 15. There is no charge for farmers to attend. Admission for others is $10 ($5 for students). Students and farmers should e-mail Emma Torbert at [email protected] for a coupon code. Admission includes lunch, refreshments, and tours.

Find directions to Russell Ranch at To register and learn more.

Emma Torbert
Agricultural Sustainability Institute
[email protected]


CA&ES annual spring faculty meeting: May 28, 2015

The annual spring faculty meeting for the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will be held May 28 in the AGR Room of the Buehler Alumni Center from 4 to 6 p.m. Mark your calendars and plan to attend.

Brenda Nakamoto
CA&ES Dean’s Office
[email protected]

Plant Breeding for Food Security—the Global Impact of Plant Genetics in Rice Production: May 28, 2015

The Plant Breeding Center and the Confucius Institute are holding a symposium May 28 to honor Gurdev Khush, the UC Davis alumnus, adjunct professor, and internationally known rice breeder. “Plant Breeding for Food Security—the Global Impact of Plant Genetics in Rice Production” will be held 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the UC Davis Conference Center.

Khush received his Ph.D. from UC Davis in 1960 and went on to become the head of plant breeding at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines. A key leader in the “Green Revolution,” he helped develop more than 300 strains of rice. The IR64 variety produced a higher volume of grains per plant and is credited with vastly improving the global supply of rice during a period of extensive population growth. He has been honored with the World Food Prize, the Borlaug Award, and the Japan Prize. He returned to UC Davis as an adjunct professor in 2002.

The symposium includes speakers who will address the global impact of Khush’s work, past and present, and the future of food security with an ever-growing world population. To register.

Amanda Pietras
Plant Breeding Center
[email protected]

Postharvest Technology of Horticultural Crops Short Course: June 15–26, 2015

Enrollment is open for the 37th annual Postharvest Technology of Horticultural Crops Short Course. The two-week course will be held June 15–26 at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center.

The 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, and academic professionals interested in current advances in the postharvest technology of horticultural crops. The course is 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; the registration fee is $2,995. A one-week lecture-only option is limited to 25 participants; the registration fee is $1,975. To learn more and to register.

Penny Stockdale
UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center
[email protected]

International Conference on Fresh-cut Produce—Maintaining Quality and Safety: September 13–18, 2015

Registrations are being accepted for the third International Conference on Fresh-cut Produce—Maintaining Quality and Safety. The conference will be held on the UC Davis campus September 13–16, with an optional two-day technical tour September 17–18. Conference attendance is limited to 200 registrations.

The conference is organized by UC Cooperative Extension specialist Marita Cantwell under the aegis of the International Society for Horticultural Science. General topics include quality and product development, temperature and handling logistics, preparation and processing, packaging and modified atmospheres, food safety and sanitation, and marketing and consumer acceptance. An industry–academia panel is also planned, focusing on future industry needs and emerging technologies in fresh-cut products.

The early registration discount has been extended to May 10. Register and learn more. The conference will take the place of the annual fresh-cut workshop in 2015.

Penny Stockdale
UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center
[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, .

Editor: John Stumbos
Writing: Helene Dillard, John Stumbos
Editorial review: Ann Filmer, Julie Fritz-Rubert, Thomas Kaiser, Christine Schmidt

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

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

Helping hands

Apr 16, 2018 Student volunteers serve the community in Monterey County

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…