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March 12, 2015

Mar 10, 2015 admin

A Message from Dean Helene Dillard: CA&ES researchers help find solutions to California’s water woes

06 helenedillardAfter December rains brought relief—and some measure of hope—to our parched state, a record dry January and subpar February makes a fourth year of drought almost a certainty for California. The below average water levels in our reservoirs and overtaxed groundwater aquifers have placed a heavy burden on the state. Agriculture, in particular, is struggling to make the best of a bad situation.

The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences plays a vital role in helping the state develop science-based solutions to stretch scarce water resources. Our researchers are working with growers, industry, and agencies throughout California to find practical solutions. Here are a few examples.

Department of Land, Air and Water Resources professor Helen Dahlke and her team are making headway with groundwater banking, where excess surface water from storms and flood releases can help replenish aquifers. Dahlke’s team has been conducting tests in an alfalfa field near Scott River in Siskiyou County, applying water in various amounts to analyze soil saturation, infiltration rates, and whether winter irrigation adversely affects alfalfa production. The team hopes to launch similar projects in other areas.

In Monterey County’s Pajaro Valley, Professor Samuel Sandoval Solis, a Cooperative Extension specialist with the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, is leading a water-saving project. Sandoval’s team identified steps that conserved 5,100 acre feet per year—41 percent of what was needed to avoid overdraft—without sacrificing crop quality and yield. Sandoval’s recommendations focused on optimizing irrigation—that fine line between applying too much and too little water.

In yet another example, plant physiology professor Ken Shackel is involved in a five-year experiment in Merced, Kern, and Tehama counties to see how different irrigation levels affect almond yields. Shackel’s team is applying between 70 and 115 percent of recommended irrigation levels based on weather-station data. Preliminary results indicate yield may start dropping at about 90 percent. That kind of information takes the guesswork out of how to get the most of limited water supplies. Similarly, Department of Viticulture and Enology professor David Block and his team are designing a grapevine irrigation system that applies water based on each vine’s individual needs.

Plant breeders are developing new varieties of food and fiber that can thrive in dry, saline conditions. Department of Plant Sciences professor Eduardo Blumwald is working to develop rice varieties that don’t shut down in drought conditions, but rather continue to produce the nutrients necessary to make rice grains. Plant sciences professors Jorge Dubcovsky and Jan Dvorak are mapping, isolating, and cloning genes from the massive wheat genome. Viticulture and enology professor Andy Walker is breeding drought- and salt-tolerant grape rootstocks by optimizing root architecture to improve water-use efficiency.

Many other examples of innovative projects with significant impact can be found throughout the college. Food science professor Chris Simmons is working with food processers, inspecting and analyzing pipes and plant procedures to find inexpensive ways to save water and energy. Dave Fujino, executive director of the California Center for Urban Horticulture, is helping extend information on efficient irrigation management and drought-tolerant plants to reduce urban water use and prevent runoff from landscapes.

While the drought’s impact on agriculture drives important research, we must not overlook the work of our scientists studying how drought affects the environment. Peter Moyle, a professor of wildlife, fish and conservation biology, has been monitoring native fish populations through droughts for more than three decades and has documented the declining status of many of these species. He and fellow scientists determined that climate change and human-caused degradation to aquatic habitats pose serious threats to more than 80 percent of our native fish.

Rangeland watershed specialist Ken Tate in the Department of Plant Sciences works with the ranching community to ensure the health of California’s rangeland. California has millions of acres of public and private rangeland that is vitally important as a source of livestock forage, wildlife habitat, plant diversity, and clean water. Tate and his team organized a recent symposium on campus for an audience of more than 200 ranchers, scientists, land managers, water regulators, and others to learn about many facets of water and other issues on rangelands as they relate to livestock grazing.

There is no one, simple way to deal with California’s drought. But CA&ES researchers are hard at work developing the solutions for managing our vital, scarce water resources.

Helene R. Dillard


College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences



James Carey named recipient of Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award

03_careyEntomology and nematology professor James Carey is the recipient of a UC Davis Academic Senate Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award for outstanding research, outreach and advocacy involving invasion biology.

In particular, Carey’s significant contributions on two California insect pest invaders—the Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) and the light brown apple moth (LBAM)—were singled out. “His public service led to much-needed in-depth discussions and greater understanding of these two agricultural pests; saved California millions in cancelled ineffective programs; and focused national and worldwide attention on how to deal with invasive pests,” wrote nominator Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology.

Carey will be honored at a combined Academic Senate/Academic Federation awards ceremony, usually scheduled in May. Other 2014–15 recipients of the Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award are Harry Cheng, professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; and Robert Powell, professor in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. Read more.

James Carey
UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology


Jonathan London and Center for Regional Change honored for community leadership

03_jlondonHuman ecology professor Jonathan London and the Center for Regional Change (CRC) have been honored with the Community Resilience Leadership Award by Breakthrough Communities. London is executive director of the CRC.

The award is given to “outstanding individuals who represent social innovation on behalf of vulnerable communities with immediate impact and long-term solutions that transform our future.” It was presented to London at the CRC’s recent symposium called “Making Data Matter” that coincided with the publication of What Counts: Harnessing Data for America’s Communities, a book by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the Urban Institute. London and several CRC collaborators have a chapter in the book. 

Breakthrough Communities is an advocacy organization that promotes sustainability and justice in metropolitan regions. The first recipient of the award was Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, and the award includes an inscription of his words. “Academics usually don’t like to follow anyone but I’ll follow Desmond Tutu any day,” London said.

Jonathan London
Center for Regional Change


David Mills elected as fellow in the American Academy of Microbiology

03_davidmillsProfessor David Mills, the Peter J. Shields Chair in Dairy Food Science, has been elected to fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology. Mills has appointments in the Department of Viticulture and Enology and the Department of Food Science and Technology.

Mills studies the molecular biology and ecology of bacteria that play an active role in gut health or fermented foods and beverages. Mills co-founded the Milk Bioactives Program—a successful multidisciplinary effort to define, investigate and translate the beneficial aspects of human milk and its role in human health.

The academy recognizes excellence, originality, and leadership in the microbiological sciences, and Mills’ election to this group is a mark of distinction. As a newly elected fellow, he will be recognized at a luncheon during the academy’s general meeting June 2 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

David Mills
Viticulture and Enology, Food Science and Technology



CA&ES Award of Distinction nominations due by March 13, 2015

Nominations for outstanding individuals to be considered for the college's Award of Distinction are due by March 13. These annual awards recognize the accomplishments of a small number of outstanding alumni, friends, faculty, and staff to be honored at College Celebration.

One or more individuals who meet the criteria can be nominated. The nomination packet can be found at Nominations should be kept confidential. Dean Helene Dillard will personally contact the recipients chosen by the selection committee. Nominators and supporters will also be notified.

Award of Distinction recipients will be honored at the 27th annual College Celebration on Friday evening, October 2 at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center Pavilion.

Carrie Cloud
CA&ES Dean’s Office


UC Davis students fare well in processed meat competition

03_animalscienceUC Davis students again earned top honors in the annual Cured and Processed Meats Championships held on campus in February. The competition was held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the California Association of Meat Processors and was open to processors of cured and smoked hams, bacons, jerky, and snack sticks, as well as various sausages.

In the collegiate division the UC Davis team, under the direction of Animal Science Meat Lab manager Caleb Sehnert, won top honors, beating teams from Chico State, Fresno State, Cal Poly Pomona, and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. This is the seventh consecutive year that UC Davis has had the top collegiate entry. The UC Davis team also won the Norm Eggen Championship Cup for high team overall in the collegiate division. This is the third year that this award has been presented, and UC Davis has won in all three years.

The meat lab also entered product in the open division—competing against commercial processors from across the state—and won awards for each of the three products it entered.

Caleb Sehnert
UC Davis Animal Science Meat Lab


Arboretum events

For more information, visit the arboretum website:

Folk Music Jam Session
Friday, March 13, 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.

Delights from Down Under
Saturday, March 14, 11 a.m., Arboretum GATEway Garden
Tour the Australian and New Zealand collections. Plants from “Down Under” show off their flowers during the rainy season. Parking for this free event is available in the Davis Commons shopping center. Meet at the shovel gateway sculpture.

Yoga in the Arboretum
Sunday, March 15, 2015, 1 to 2:30 p.m., Environmental Horticulture Courtyard
Join certified yoga instructor Loshan Ostrava for 90 minutes of yoga. Sponsored by the Arboretum Ambassadors, this free event is appropriate for all skill levels. Dress comfortably. Bring a towel and/or yoga mat and water bottle. Parking is available in nearby visitor lot 5.

Spring Surprises in the Storer Garden
Saturday, March 28, 2015, 11 a.m., Arboretum Gazebo
The Ruth Risdon Storer Garden is beautiful year round, but especially in spring. Just in time for the arboretum’s first public plant sale of the season on April 11, visitors will get great ideas from this valley-wise demonstration garden for their own water-thrifty gardens.



Seed Central networking event: March 12, 2015

Seed Central hosts speakers and networking events that bring together seed and food professionals, UC Davis faculty, scientists, and students. The March 12, 2015 event will be held in the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center, Ballroom A.

Networking runs from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The featured speaker is Neal Gutterson, vice president of agricultural biotechnology for DuPont Pioneer. His topic is DuPont Pioneer Ag Biotech R&D: Strategy and Future Directions.

Future Seed Central speakers include Joseph DiTomaso, UC Cooperative Extension weed specialist, on April 9, and Charles Brummer, director of the UC Davis Plant Breeding Center, on May 14. The May Seed Central 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.

These events are free, but an RSVP is requested. Register for the March 12 event. More information is available at

Kathleen Bess-Esparza

Department of Plant Sciences



Open house for advanced imaging facility, multiphoton microscope: March 16, 2015

The School of Veterinary Medicine will hold a daylong event March 16 to introduce the campus to its new advanced imaging facility and multiphoton microscope. Opening ceremonies on March 16 feature scientific, applications, and technology talks from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., followed by a social mixer. Subsequent live demonstrations and hands-on workshops follow throughout the week.

The Leica SP8 multiphoton confocal microscope features a white light laser with HyD detectors and is ideally suited for intravital microscopy, thick samples, and optically clarified tissues. Its high sensitivity and high speed allows for frame rates to be acquired while limiting potential damage to samples.

The open house will be held in the first-floor auditorium at the Genome and Biomedical Sciences, 451 Health Sciences Drive. The workshops and demonstrations will be held at the imaging facility, located at in Room 1218, Vet Med3B. To register and learn more about the event.

Colin Reardon
School of Veterinary Medicine

Denise Christensen
School of Veterinary Medicine


Fruit ripening and ethylene management workshop: March 17–18, 2015

The 21st annual Fruit Ripening and Ethylene Management 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.

Penny Stockdale
UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center


California Climate and Agriculture Summit: March 24–25, 2015

The fourth California Climate and Agriculture Summit will be held March 24–25 at UC Davis and at area farms and ranches. The event is hosted by the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN), a nonprofit advocacy group that represents sustainable agriculture organizations and allied groups working with California farmers. Registration for the event is open.

The summit begins March 24 with a tour of the Rominger Brothers Farm, Hedgerow Farm, and a cattle ranch, followed the next day by plenary, workshop, and poster presentations at the UC Davis Conference Center and concluding with a wine-and-cheese reception. The summit is designed to explore the science, policy, and practice of climate change and sustainable agriculture in California. Participants include farmers and ranchers, agency staff, technical service providers, policymakers, university researchers, and advocates concerned with climate change challenges and opportunities in California agriculture. For more information and to register.

Renata Brillinger, executive director
California Climate and Agriculture Network


Urban horticulture workshop “Creating a Living Landscape”: March 28, 2015

02 arboretumThe California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) will hold a daylong workshop on Saturday, March 28, called “Creating a Living Landscape.” The event will be held on the Davis campus at Medical Sciences 1C, Room 180.

The cost is $45 and includes parking, a light breakfast, lunch, workshop instruction, and a special tour of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven Garden. Bee boxes for the landscape will be available for purchase. The workshop runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (come early for breakfast). The garden tour starts after the workshop at 3:15 p.m.

The workshop is intended for garden enthusiasts, nursery employees, and master gardeners. Topics include backyard birds, “green” roofs, not-so-common pollinators, tools for pest control, and plants that attract wildlife. To register visit CCUH.

Anne Schellman
California Center for Urban Horticulture


Queen bee-rearing short course: March 28–29, 2015

The Department of Entomology and Nematology will offer a short course on queen bee-rearing techniques March 28–29, at the Harry H. Laidlaw, Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.

The course will be taught by UC Cooperative Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño and assisted by staff research associates Bernardo Niño and Billy Synk. The course is designed for those who have some beekeeping experience and would like to move on to the next step of rearing their own queens or to try bee breeding. Topics include honey bee queen biology, basics of selective honey bee breeding, queen bee rearing techniques, hygienic behavior testing, and assessment of varroa mite levels.

Course registration is $200. Class size is limited to 14 participants. The Laidlaw facility is located on Bee Biology Road, west of the main campus. For additional information about the course, read a blog post by Kathy Garvey.

Bernardo Niño
Department of Entomology and Nematology


UC Davis GIS Symposium: April 1, 2015

03_gifsThe first UC Davis GIS Symposium will be held April 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the UC Davis Conference Center. The symposium is open to anyone with an interest in Geographic Information Systems.

Cutting-edge research and training to improve GIS skills will be demonstrated by campus faculty, staff, and students. Presentations will span a range of technologies—from desktop to Web, open source GIS, ongoing research, public communication, and data visualization. Workshops include the use of Esri ArcGIS Online, combining Esri and open source GIS, and kite-based aerial imagery collection. The plenary presenter is Susana Crespo, Esri agriculture industry manager.

Registration is $30 general or $10 for current UC Davis students. Lunch is included in the registration.

Nate Roth
Information Center for the Environment
Department of Environmental Science and Policy

Karen Beardsley
Information Center for the Environment
Department of Environmental Science and Policy


Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety seminar: April 6, 2015

Daniel Carroll, a researcher with the Office of Policy Development and Research in the U.S. Department of Labor, will present a seminar April 6 from 4 to 5 p.m. for the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety. He will discuss recent findings from the National Agricultural Workers Survey, including demographic, employment, and health characteristics of California farmworkers.

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


Plant Breeding Symposium: April 10, 2015

The 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 be invited to present talks. Interested students should submit an abstract by March 15.

The symposium is sponsored by DuPont Pioneer. A networking opportunity sponsored by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 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

Amanda Pietras
Seed Biotechnology Center


“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.

“This educational program is designed for beekeepers of all experience levels, including gardeners, farmers, and anyone interested in the world of pollination and bees,” said Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center.

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). Both include a continental breakfast, lunch and post-event reception. Read more.

Amina Harris
Honey and Pollination Center

Stephanie Shimada
Robert Mondavi Institute


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, a half mile west of Highway 113.

Dan Putnam
Department of Plant Sciences


Postdoctoral Research Symposium: May 14, 2015

03_postdoctoralAll UC Davis postdoctoral researchers are invited to give a 10-minute talk or a poster at a research symposium to be held May 14 in the Memorial Union. Awards will be given for the best talks and posters. Deadline for abstract submission is March 27.

Nationwide, 50 percent of scientific articles have a postdoc as first author. At UC Davis there are 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, allowing a large percentage of postdocs to present their work.

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

Kaisa Kajala
UC Davis Genome Center


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


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, 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.

Penny Stockdale
UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center


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

Abstracts and early 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 registrants. 

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.

Register online and learn more at the conference website. Abstracts can be submitted online until March 15. The conference will take the place of the annual fresh-cut workshop in 2015.

Penny Stockdale
UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center


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

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