1999 Award of Distinction Recipients

Michael T. Clegg

('69, B.S., Genetics; '72, Ph.D., Genetics) 
Dean, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences
UC Riverside 
Riverside, California 

A Davis native, Professor Clegg has had a distinguished career in teaching and has made numerous contributions in research on genetic mechanisms in plants and other organisms. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Darwin Prize, an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, key lecturer for the American Genetic Association and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. His work at the National Academy of Sciences has been of utmost value to the University of California in shaping policy decisions by Congress on sensitive agricultural and environmental issues and for funding of science research. 

One nominator commented: "I can think of no individual who more fully embodies the ideal of a publicly minded scientist of the highest credentials working to improve the lives of people in this country and throughout the world."


Dean Cortopassi

('58, Two Year Degree Program, Agrarian Studies)
President and CEO
San Tomo Group 


Joan Cortopassi

('58, B.S., Physical Education) 
Author and Businesswoman 
Stockton, California

Dean Cortopassi, an internationally recognized leader and innovator in the food processing business, has been a pioneer in double-cropping kidney beans, minimum tillage row-crop farming, center-pivot irrigation and linear-automated sprinklers. He invented and holds the patent on the first tomato vine trainer, invented and licensed the linear automated sprinkler and invented California's first automated onion cutting/windrowing machine. Cortopassi received the Outstanding Young Farmer Award in 1970 and has served in leadership roles with eight California processing/marketing cooperatives. He is a member of the board of directors of the National Food Processors' Association. 

Joan Cortopassi, culinary artist, teacher and community supporter, is co-author of Fat Chance: Your Best Chance for Permanent Weight Loss. She has served on the Board of Regents of the University of the Pacific and as a member of the Women's Center of San Joaquin, Lilliput Children's Services, American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters and Outstanding Young Farmers. She is affiliated with the San Francisco Professional Food Society, the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and the American Institute of Wine and Food. 

A nominator wrote, "I can think of no couple in California's agricultural and food industries more deserving of this joint recognition. They have given abundantly to the betterment of California agriculture and the food industry, to their community and to higher education."


Emanuel Epstein

('40, B.S., Horticulture; '41, M.S., Horticulture) 
Professor Emeritus, Department of Land, Air & Water Resources
UC Davis
Davis, California 

Emanuel Epstein joined the faculty of UC Davis as a lecturer in plant nutrition in 1958. He received the Cherubim Gold Medal in 1962 and twice was awarded the Senior Fulbright Research Scholarship. He was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1978, the highest honor for American scientists. Epstein is an internationally recognized scientist who, as an emeritus professor, reopened the field of essential elements with his work on the role of silicon in plant systems. He lectures worldwide, speaks at national and international meetings and is considered one of the pioneers in ion transport research in plants. Epstein has been a key figure in research on salt tolerance and its application in agriculture. His preeminence in research spans nearly five decades.

One nominator stated, "Professor Epstein has made enormous contributions to agriculture and to plant biology."


Glenn A. Goldsmith

('50, B.S., Plant Science) 
Founder, Goldsmith Seeds
Gilroy, California 

Glenn Goldsmith started his own seed company in Gilroy, California in 1962. Today, Goldsmith Seeds is a multi-national company with more than 4,000 employees working in facilities on three continents. The company has become the largest flower seed producer in the world. In 1992, Goldsmith was named a Fellow in the American Society for Horticultural Science, the group's most distinguished recognition. His company has received more than 30 international awards for new flower varieties. In 1998, Goldsmith Seeds received the Guatemalan Peace Medallion, recognizing its economic and social development in Guatemala for more than 30 years of seed production. 

Goldsmith developed the first on-site, company-sponsored childcare facility of any agricultural firm in California. The company also sponsors on-site health care centers at their operations in Kenya and Guatemala. 

One nominator described Goldsmith as "the best flowering plant breeder in the business." on in plant systems. He lectures worldwide, speaks at national and international meetings and is considered one of the pioneers in ion transport research in plants.


Walter G. Jennings

Professor Emeritus, Department of Food Science and Technology, UC Davis
Co-founder, J&W Scientific
El Dorado, California

Walter Jennings served as a member of the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology for 35 years until his retirement in 1988. He is recognized worldwide for his outstanding contributions and pioneering efforts in gas chromatography. Jennings also is considered an expert in hard-surface detergency. Jennings and a Ph.D. student founded J&W Scientific in 1975 and began to manufacture glass capillary columns for gas chromatographs. Today, the company is the world's primary supplier of open tubular columns and associated accessories. 

Jennings received the Humboldt-Preis Award from the German government, recognizing him as a Senior American Scientist. He served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Chromatographic Science and the Journal of Food Science. 

His nomination praises his accomplishments: "Professor Jennings' achievements led to major advances in separation science and in the precision and sensitivity of analytical techniques. He truly is the giant in his field."


Norman W. Montague

('63, M.S., Agronomy)
El Nido, California

Norman Montague is recognized throughout California and across the United States as a leader in the agricultural industry. He has filled key leadership roles in the California Pork Producers Association and served as director, president and national director to the National Pork Producers Council. The Secretary of Agriculture appointed Montague to the National Pork Board. The U.S. swine industry learned about California's swine industry as the result of Montague's national service. Montague served on the Consumer Products Committee when the highly successful "Pork, the Other White Meat" campaign began. He also assumed a leadership role within the industry on animal welfare issues. 

One nominator wrote: "Mr. Montague's national service and his resulting influence on the national pork industry have been profound. Animal agriculture in the state and nation have benefited greatly from his knowledge, his leadership and his dedication."


Robert W. Munyon

('40, B.S., Agricultural Education)
Businessman/Farmer, Semi-Retired
Acampo, California

Robert Munyon served as a director of the National Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association and was instrumental in the merger of the NGVGA and the Western Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association into the American Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association. He served as director, vice president or president of the association every year until he retired as outgoing president in 1990. In 1981, Munyon received AGVGA's highest honor, the Hunter Johnson Award for Service. He has been active in greenhouse association activities at the local, state and federal levels and has been a speaker at greenhouse association meetings throughout the U.S. and Canada. 

A nominator wrote: "Bob's enthusiasm for life and work make him a truly remarkable individual. He always is willing to assist others in learning about agriculture."


Robert C. Pearl

('47, B.S., Plant Science)
Extension Emeritus, Department of Food Science
UC Davis
Davis, California

Robert Pearl joined the f aculty of the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology as an Extension agronomist in 1955. He was instrumental in the technological revolution involving the production, harvesting and processing of tomatoes from hand to mechanical methods and played a pivotal role in creating the UC Food Packaging Program. Pearl also established the California Fruit and Vegetable Freezing Industry Advisory Committee and the Fruit and Vegetable Canning Industry Advisory Committee so that industry could communicate directly with UC Davis researchers. 

Pearl received the 1987 California League of Food Processors Distinguished Service Award, the 1989 American Frozen Food Institute Industry Service Award and the 1999 Food Processors Institute's first service award that was named the "Robert Pearl Distinguished Service Award" in his honor. 

A nominator writes: "The food industry in California and around the world respect Bob Pearl. This impacts favorably on university research and its efforts to serve industry and growers."


Amy Rucker

('89, B.S., Landscape Architecture)
Landscape Architect
Sacramento, California

Since graduation, Amy Rucker has become a "star" in the field of restoration and open-space planning. She is a principal of Sacramento-based Jones & Stokes, an environmental consulting firm, and has established herself as an innovator in the application of landscape ecology to landscape architecture and planning. 

Rucker planned a reconnaissance study of the ecosystem of the north end of Clear Lake for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and designed a conceptual plan for the restoration and mitigation components of a bank protection project on the lower American River. Other projects include wetland restoration grading and planting plans and preparation of an Operation and Maintenance Manual for riparian restoration. Rucker manages the firm's Ecosystem Planning and Restoration Team comprised of more than 20 technical experts from multiple disciplines in the biological and physical sciences. 

Her former professor writes: "Amy blends an understanding of ecology with design to create projects that bring people and nature closer together, enriching the lives of those living in Northern California."


Evert I. Schlinger

('57, Ph.D., Entomology)
Professor Emeritus, Entomology, UC Berkeley
Santa Ynez, California

Evert Schlinger is an internationally recognized entomologist and world authority on a very rare, world-distributed group of spider-parasitoid flies of the family Acroceridae. He has collected specimens on 37 insect-spider expeditions in 40 countries and still is collecting and working on a worldwide publication of the acrocerids. These trips have given worldwide recognition to the college. 

Schlinger served as chair of the departments of entomology at UC Riverside and UC Berkeley and initiated a new department at Berkeley called Conservation and Resources Studies. Schlinger and his wife, Marion, have established several endowed chairs to further their interest in insect systematics. 

One nomination states: "He has been an inspiring teacher, mentor and leader in entomology. Through his research foundation, he provides resources to enliven and enrich the prospects of systematics and biodiversity well into the future."


Chris Floyd Zaiger

('52, B.S., Agricultural Education)
Founder/Owner, Zaiger's Genetics, Inc.
Modesto, California

Chris Floyd Zaiger started his family business to hybridize several species of deciduous fruit types and rootstocks. Zaiger Genetics, Inc., a pioneer and industry leader in hybridizing between fruit species that yield "interspecifics," the complex combination of two or more fruit types. The company holds more than 100 U.S. plant patents for varieties they developed. 

Almost all commercial white-fleshed peaches and nectarines grown in Western Europe and the U.S. are Zaiger varieties. On two separate occasions, France honored Zaiger with high national awards for his contributions to the French fruit industry. Zaiger grows and tests at least 70,000 new selections each year. He has gone beyond the traditional boundaries of fruit genetics and given the industry inter-specific fruits. 

Zaiger's nominator commented: "He has been honored by foreign countries, and he received the Wilder Award, the highest in the field of pomology in the United States. No one has done more for the enhancement of the fruit industry worldwide than Chris Floyd Zaiger."