2009 Award of Distinction Recipients

John C. Bruhn

John C. Bruhn, a dairy food processing specialist emeritus in the Department of Food Science and Technology, is an accomplished researcher and educator whose work has helped improve the quality and taste of milk, cheese, and other dairy products. He is being honored as “Outstanding Faculty” with a 2009 CA&ES Award of Distinction.

Bruhn came to UC Davis in 1962 in pursuit of a master’s degree in food science and technology, but coursework in biochemistry and microbiology convinced him that a career as a bacteriologist was more inviting. He earned his doctoral degree in 1968 and the following year became a UC Cooperative Extension specialist. Within a year, he met his future wife, Christine Mattson (now Christine Bruhn), who became a well-known consumer foods specialist at UC Davis.

Throughout his career, Bruhn’s research and education emphasized the quality and safety of raw and processed milk and dairy foods. Early efforts with California dairy farm advisors helped eliminate variable milk flavors through a statewide program to teach dairy producers how to produce raw milk with uniform quality. He received an extension award from the American Dairy Science Association for this work, one of many career awards. Bruhn would also later become the organization’s president. In the 1970s, Bruhn led a national effort to identify the source of iodine contamination on dairy farms and at food processors.

Bruhn helped establish the Dairy Research and Information Center in 1995 and served as its founding director until 2002. Before retirement, Bruhn worked with the artisan and farmstead cheese producers to improve the quality and safety of cheeses from goat, sheep, and cow milk. Earlier in 2009, the California Cheese and Butter Association awarded John and Christine Bruhn a shared lifetime achievement award for the many contributions the pair has made to the California cheese and butter industries.

“The career achievements of John Bruhn illustrate a lifetime of selfless service driven by passion for dairy food science and for meeting the needs of the dairy industry.” — Kathryn Boor, professor and chair, Department of Food Science, Cornell University (Boor is a former UC Davis staff research associate mentored by Bruhn)


Martha Guzman Aceves


Martha Guzman Aceves, legislative advocate for the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, has made remarkable contributions on a broad spectrum of farm labor issues since she graduated with a master’s degree from UC Davis in 2002. She is being honored as “Young Alumna” with a 2009 CA&ES Award of Distinction.

As director of the Foundation’s Sustainable Communities Project, she advocates on environmental justice and farm worker health and safety issues such as heat illness and pesticide exposure.  In 2003, she served as the legislative coordinator for the United Farm Workers, AFL-CIO, covering a range of labor and environmental issues.

Aceves currently works with the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water to ensure safe and affordable drinking water for rural communities. She is a board member of the Ag Innovations Network, which strives to assure the long-term viability of food systems.  She is also a board member with other advocacy groups trying to improve the quality of rural life. She is on the advisory board of the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute, was appointed by the governor to the California Water Commission in 2002, and is a 2002-2004 graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program.

Born and raised in Sacramento, Aceves is a self-described “political hound” who seemed destined for public service. She earned her bachelor’s degree in international economics and a certificate in Latin American studies from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, which was complemented by studies in Santiago, Chile. This experience left her “fully vested in the power of democracy,” she says. “It is with this world view that I try to live every day.” She earned her UC Davis master of science in Agricultural and Resource Economics and continues to interact with campus faculty for ideas and guidance on issues affecting California farm workers. 

“All who have known Martha over the years feel fortunate to have worked with this truly outstanding individual,” said her nominator, ASI director Tom Tomich. “She is a leader, both professionally and in her dedication to community service, and her passion for advocating the needs of farm workers is inspirational.”


Thomas Kaiser


Thomas Kaiser, executive assistant dean in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences since 1992, has helped the college successfully navigate some of the most challenging budget years in its history. He is being honored as “Outstanding Staff” with a 2009 CA&ES Award of Distinction.

Through the years, Kaiser provided critical support to the dean and the college by developing new budget models for allocation of resources, especially in the early 1990s and early 2000s when CA&ES addressed significant budget reductions. He revised budget and financial processes to increase the transparency and accessibility of information. Analyses provided by Kaiser and his staff gave deans and department chairs the necessary tools to make better decisions on a variety of issues.

He has also worked with department chairs, managers, and faculty in planning and coordinating major capital renewal projects, including new construction and major renovation projects to replace outdated academic buildings and support facilities. He is a strong advocate for staff and helped streamline operations to make for more efficient, manageable workloads.

Kaiser believes strongly in giving back to the community. He is a monthly volunteer at Sacramento’s Loaves and Fishes to feed the homeless. His other Sacramento community activities have included serving as coordinator of volunteers for the Sacramento AIDS Walk, and assisting with the Capital Public Radio fundraising.

Kaiser has a gift for and is passionate about music. He studied music at UC Davis in the early 1980s. He was a founder and conductor of the Woodland Chamber Orchestra in the 1980s, an organist for Holy Rosary Church in Woodland (1981–1993), and director of the music program at St. James Church in Davis (1993–2003). Tom also sang with the Sacramento Master Singers 1996–2008, and served as the bass section leader.

“Our college is in a much better position today than it would have been without Tom Kaiser. Through good times and bad, Tom has consistently demonstrated exceptional business acumen in our resource management and planning efforts.” — CA&ES Dean Neal Van Alfen


Gurdev Khush


Gurdev Khush, the chief plant breeder at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines from 1967 until 2002, led the development of more than 300 rice varieties and gained a reputation as the father of the Green Revolution in South Asia. He is being honored among “Outstanding Alumni” with a 2009 CA&ES Award of Distinction.

The trail of Khush’s remarkable career began on a wheat farm in northern India, where his father instilled in him the value of education. After graduating from Punjab Agricultural University in 1955, he traveled to England and worked in a factory to save enough money for travel to the United States. In 1957, he applied to and was accepted by UC Davis, where he studied with two legendary plant geneticists — Ledyard Stebbins and Charles Rick. After receiving his doctoral degree in 1960, he studied the tomato genome with Rick for seven years.

In 1966, IRRI recruited Khush to develop high-yielding rice varieties with short growth duration, resistance to diseases and insects, and superior grain quality. The resulting 300-plus improved varieties were distributed to rice-growing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. World rice production increased from 257 million tons in 1966 to 640 million tons by 2008, a “green revolution” that feeds more than a billion people every year. One of these varieties, IR36, is the most widely planted food crop ever grown.

Khush has earned many awards, including the Borlaug Award (1977), the Japan Prize (1987), the World Food Prize (1996), and the Wolf Prize in Agriculture (2000). He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society (London), and is a fellow of numerous professional societies. In 2002 he retired from IRRI and returned to UC Davis as an adjunct professor to share his knowledge and experience with students and faculty.

“Given all his international accolades, Gurdev always credits UC Davis and faculty within the college for providing him with the scientific background that has allowed him to make his extraordinary contributions to feeding the world.” — Howard-Yana Shapiro, global director of plant science and external research, Mars, Inc.


James R. Lugg


James R. Lugg, recently retired executive vice president for food safety and quality at produce company Fresh Express, helped revolutionize the industry with major innovations in the development of packaged salads and in improved produce safety. He is being honored as a “Friend of the College” with a 2009 CA&ES Award of Distinction.

The California native received a Bachelor of Science degree in soil science from UC Berkeley in 1956. That same year, he became a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Kings County, and later became a farm advisor in Monterey County. He joined Bruce Church, Inc. in 1963 as research director, and in 1966 was named president of the company’s TransFRESH Corporation, where he directed research and quality efforts in controlled- and modified-atmosphere applications for produce. He is a recognized pioneer in the fresh produce industry for the development of food safety metrics and good agricultural practices for Fresh Express.

Lugg served as a director of Fresh International Corporation, the holding company for Bruce Church, Inc., Fresh Express Foods, and a number of other companies, including TransFRESH, until the company was sold in 2001. He retired from Fresh Express in January 2009 and now serves as a consultant to Fresh Express/Chiquita Brands International, Inc. In June 2008 he received the E.E. “Gene” Harden Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California. In September 2008 Chiquita honored his 47 years of service in dedicating the James R. Lugg Global Research & Innovation Center in Salinas.

Lugg continues to serve on several university advisory groups, including the CA&ES Dean’s Advisory Council, where he was an early proponent for the development of what would become the Center for Produce Safety at UC Davis. In 2005 he was named to the UC President’s Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources. 

“Jim Lugg is the embodiment of leadership with his quiet style that both encourages creative thinking, as well as fosters personal development of all the people working around and with him,” said Fresh Express/Chiquita colleague Sharan Lanini.


Fritz Maytag


Fritz Maytag, president of Anchor Brewing Company, launched the craft brewing revolution a generation ago and has shared his experience, enthusiasm, and support to aspiring brew masters at UC Davis ever since. He is being honored as a “Friend of the College” with a 2009 CA&ES Award of Distinction.

In 1965 Maytag acquired the struggling brewery, which had been making its traditional steam beer in San Francisco since the late 1800s. His subsequent success inspired young beer makers throughout the country to emulate the Anchor Brewing microbrewery model.

A native of Newton, Iowa, Maytag comes from a long line of creative entrepreneurs. His great grandfather founded the Maytag appliance company with an innovative washer design. In 1941 his father created Maytag blue cheese with milk from the family’s Holstein dairy cows and a process developed by land-grant scientists at Iowa State University. That enterprising spirit lives on in Fritz Maytag.

In 1993 he established the Anchor Distilling Co., whose Old Potrero Rye Whiskey and Junipero Gin have stimulated a burgeoning artisanal distilling movement. Maytag also owns celebrated York Creek Vineyards in Napa’s Spring Mountain District.

In 2003, Maytag won the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional Award. In 2008 the Foundation presented him its lifetime achievement award, given annually to an individual who has had a significant impact on the way we cook, eat, and think about food in America.

In nominating him for the Award of Distinction, UC Davis brewing science professor Charles Bamforth lauded Maytag for his support of the program and his consistent willingness to speak to students and share his philosophy and vision of brewing: “He has always been at pains to help other people, recognizing that it takes more than just one brewer to satisfy the demand for a beverage of excellence.”

“Fritz was a real inspiration to me in my decision to open a brewery,” said Ken Grossman, president and owner of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. “I credit him with revitalizing the industry and leading the path for many brewers to follow with creative brewing, dedication to quality, and his passion for blending art, science, and tradition.” 


Mary Patterson


Mary Patterson, a retired rancher and businesswoman, has been a devoted volunteer in the UC Davis Arboretum for more than 20 years. She is being honored as a “Friend of the College” with a 2009 CA&ES Award of Distinction.

Born Mary Brennan and raised in Palo Alto, she attended UC Davis before marrying Jim Patterson in 1967 and raising a son, Benjamin. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science at California State University, Sacramento. Mary and Jim ran a successful printing business in Sacramento before moving to Capay to run the family’s cattle ranch and farming operation. They are now building a house in Davis.

Mary is committed to environmental sustainability, public education about gardening, and the importance of volunteers in building a strong university and a vibrant community. She was president of Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum support for seven years, and led the campaign to equip the new Arboretum Teaching Nursery. She helped expand the Friends plant sales program (doubling its earned income), helped initiate an annual giving campaign, and organized fund-raising and celebratory events.

Mary has designed and managed garden construction and renovation projects, helped expand the Arboretum's volunteer gardener program, and supervised crews of Arboretum volunteers. She has helped plan and promote the Arboretum All-Stars program, an education and marketing program for recommended plants and sustainable gardening practices, and the UC Davis Arboretum GATEways Initiative (Gardens, Art, and The Environment), a vision for the future of the Arboretum as an open door into the campus.

“There is nothing I enjoy more than a good project,” she says. “Volunteering at the Arboretum has given me the opportunity to work with a wonderful community of friends on one great Arboretum project after another. We build gardens and we build friendships. What more could you ask for?”

“Mary is truly an exceptional person whose expertise, leadership, dedication and hard work have contributed greatly to the quality of life at UC Davis and in the broader Davis community.” — Kathleen Socolofsky, director, UC Davis Arboretum


Howard-Yana Shapiro


Howard-Yana Shapiro, global director for plant science and external research at Mars, Inc., brings a passion for sustainability to his work that is transforming the world’s largest chocolate company and has made a lasting imprint at UC Davis. He is being honored as a “Friend of the College” with a 2009 CA&ES Award of Distinction.

In the 1980s, he co-founded “Seeds of Change,” a company devoted to organic agriculture, biodiversity, and wholesome, natural food. In 1997 Seeds of Change joined with Mars, Inc., a company that shares his commitment to sustainability. Earlier this year Shapiro announced Mars will certify 100 percent of its cocoa from sustainably produced sources by 2020.  

He is involved in an international cacao breeding project and directs the company’s global genome sequencing work on cacao in collaboration with IBM and the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. He and nutrition professor emeritus Louis Grivetti co-authored the book “Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage,” a project that grew out of the multidisciplinary Chocolate History Group formed by Mars and UC Davis.

Shapiro, an adjunct professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, is also chair of the external advisory board for the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute. He is a former Fulbright Scholar, a Ford Foundation Fellow, National Endowment for the Humanities Award winner, and in 2007 was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Organic Trade Association.

In 2008 Shapiro was named a fellow of the World Agroforestry Centre. Also in 2008, he was lead author on the biotechnology and biodiversity chapter of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, a study initiated by the World Bank. Shapiro is a founding member of the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture and is on a National Research Council committee on “greening” and the future of the Florida citrus industry.

“I have had many fascinating discussions with Howard about the issues facing international agriculture, and the overwhelming sense one gets from him is a can-do optimism about our ability to solve the problems through openly addressing the issues and applying good science to them.” — Kent Bradford, plant sciences professor and director, Seed Biotechnology Center


Ann M. Veneman


Ann M. Veneman, executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is a 1970 UC Davis alumna whose career in public service has earned her some remarkable distinctions. She is being honored as a “Friend of the College” with a 2009 CA&ES Award of Distinction.

Veneman’s leadership and vision has been recognized both nationally and internationally.  In 2009 she was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women, ranked #46.

At UNICEF Veneman leads a global organization with more than 11,000 staff who work in more than 150 countries.   Under her leadership, UNICEF is advancing programs to reach those most vulnerable and ensuring resources are utilized effectively to protect, save and improve the lives of children around the world.

Veneman served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, from 2001-2005 and as California’s Secretary of Food and Agriculture from 1995 to 1999.  She is the only woman to have held these positions.

Growing up on a peach farm in Modesto, Veneman earned her bachelor’s degree in political science at UC Davis, a master’s in public policy at UC Berkeley, and a juris doctorate at UC’s Hastings College of Law. From 1996 to 2000 she was a member of the CA&ES Dean’s Advisory Council. She has received numerous awards and distinctions throughout her career, including a Cal Aggie Alumni Citation for Excellence in 1995 and UC Davis Outstanding Alumna in 2001.

Since joining UNICEF in 2005, Veneman has traveled to more than sixty countries to review the plight of children and UNICEF’s work to assist them. She has witnessed the progress being made and also the devastation caused by natural disasters, conflict, disease and exploitation. “Children are the future,” she says. “If we don’t take care of the children, we won’t take care of the future.” 

“UNICEF has emerged under new leadership as a crucial protagonist for child survival. This commitment was not always assured…Ann Veneman, has pledged the agency to what amounts to a second child survival revolution.” — British medical journal, Lancet