December 10, 2015

Martin Kenney
Martin Kenney

A Message from Dean Helene Dillard: Tom Kaiser steps into retirement after a long and distinguished career in CA&ES leadership

DeanWhen I became dean two years ago, I knew I would have my work cut out learning the intricacies of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. CA&ES executive assistant dean Tom Kaiser was right there to bring me up to speed on the administrative and financial nuances of running an institution with more than 6,800 undergraduates, 1,000 graduate students, 800 staff, and 300 faculty.

Tom has been in this important leadership position for more than 23 years. As one might expect, his knowledge of the college is encyclopedic. Tom has had primary oversight over budget and financial services, facilities planning, information technology, business services, and general administration of the college. That’s a tall order, and Tom has served in that capacity with style and grace.

He also helped the college navigate its most challenging years. Former dean Neal Van Alfen says that Tom was critical to our success — not only because of his technical knowledge of budgets and university finances, but also because he brought a strong sense of ethics to the conversation. Decisions made to strengthen the college in strategic areas were based on clearly understood principles. Our college is a much better organization today because of it.

Tom’s strength of character has revealed itself in so many ways. His passion for the college is reflected in his commitment to getting it right. And because of that he has tremendous credibility throughout the campus, not just in our college. He has been a valued mentor to many. Coworkers describe him as thoughtful, organized, optimistic, measured, and multifaceted. He has always been concerned about the consequences of any budget decision on students, staff, and faculty. In 2009, Tom was given the “outstanding staff” Award of Distinction from our college.


Tom Kaiser
Tom Kaiser


As he prepares to enter the next phase of his life — retirement — we asked him to share a few thoughts. Tom says he is grateful for the opportunity serve as CA&ES executive assistant dean. He’s proud of the manner in which we all came together during challenging times to develop creative solutions such as new models and approaches for budget and financial management, and new approaches for the development of administrative applications and structures to better serve faculty and staff. He will miss the daily intellectual stimulation of working with bright and talented faculty, staff, students, and college leadership in a job that has never been routine.


Tom departs with a fond farewell for all his colleagues, saying he could not imagine having a more rewarding and enjoyable career than what he experienced here at UC Davis, especially in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He will join the ranks of UC Davis retirees at the end of this month. We wish him the very best as he pursues his many interests — music, dance, travel. And we extend a heartfelt thank-you to an individual who has served the CA&ES family so well. Happy trails, Tom Kaiser.

Helene R. Dillard, 
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences




Penny Herbert to become new CA&ES Executive Assistant Dean

PennyPenny Herbert, an administrator in the UC Davis School of Medicine, has accepted the position as CA&ES Executive Assistant Dean effective January 1, 2016. She replaces Tom Kaiser, who is retiring at the end of December after more than 23 years at the helm of the college’s financial and administrative affairs.

“I am honored to join the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences,” Herbert said. “As a veteran of the UC system, I’m delighted to bring my experience in working with talented students, faculty, staff, and leadership to my new role in support of the college finances. I look forward to meeting many of you in the coming weeks and months and learning more about your work and how I can best serve the college.”

The executive assistant dean is the lead financial and administrative officer for the college, and oversees the business and financial operation of the college. Herbert will provide leadership for college resource management and planning, and dealing with a wide range of issues such as policy, budget models, resource allocation, initiatives, and organizational structure. The executive assistant dean also has primary responsibility for CA&ES financial planning and analyses in support of the operating and capital budgets. In addition, she will manage the college’s budget and financial services, facilities planning, information technology, business services, and general administration.

Herbert currently serves as the executive assistant dean in the School of Medicine, where she manages budget management for academic personnel, academic information systems, and the dean’s finance unit medical center recharges. She also has responsibility for resource allocation, facilities, budget planning, and long-range forecasting. She works directly with departments on financial and personnel issues and previously served as the director of strategic planning and manager of clinical operations.

She lives near Winters on a five-acre property, where she and her husband tend 50 vines and 30 olive trees. “With the assistance of CA&ES faculty, we have been able to make potable wines and half-decent olive oil,” she said.

Julie Fritz-Rubert 
CA&ES Dean’s Office 


Jan Hopmans is among four new AAAS fellows

HopmansSoil hydrology professor Jan Hopmans is one of four UC Davis faculty members recently elected as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

A professor in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, Hopmans also serves as a CA&ES associate dean for the International Programs Office. He is being honored for his extraordinary contributions to soil science through research, teaching, and outreach. His work, including field research and laboratory studies, encompasses a broad range of topics such as irrigation systems, hydrologic system analysis, shallow groundwater and drainage-water disposal, and management of soil and water resources.

The other new AAAS fellows include Peter Barry, a professor with the UC Davis Health System; Xi Chen, a professor of chemistry; and Chih-Ling Tsai, a distinguished professor in the Graduate School of Management. Read more about the fellows here. They will be honored at the AAAS annual meeting to be held in Washington, D.C., in February.

Jan Hopmans 
International Programs Office 


Martin Kenney receives UC president’s leadership award for work on innovation

KenneyMartin Kenney, a professor of community and regional development, is among 10 faculty members around the UC system who recently received awards for outstanding leadership on UC President Janet Napolitano’s initiatives.

Kenney’s research has focused on the economic impact of UC innovations. Through the initiative on innovation and entrepreneurship, he is creating an extensive data set on startups based on UC research. The data set will form the basis of an economic impact report commissioned from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

Recipients of the Award for Outstanding Leadership in Presidential Initiatives will be honored by Napolitano at a dinner in early 2016. Read more.

Martin Kenney 
Department of Human Ecology 




New federal grant program to help address specialty crop issues

A new federal grant program offered by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service will award $3 million to projects that solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops through collaborative, multistate projects.

Proposals must include partners located in at least two different states and address regional or national-level specialty crop issues, including food safety, plant pests and disease, research, crop-specific projects addressing common issues, and marketing and promotion.

The Specialty Crop Multistate Program (SCMP) is being administered in California through the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). For information on application requirements, visit Proposals must be submitted to CDFA electronically at by Tuesday, December 15, 2015, at 8:59 p.m.

Office of Grants Administration 
California Department of Food and Agriculture 


Sixth UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy Class starts in September 2016

Class six of the Plant Breeding Academy gets under way at UC Davis in September 2016. The academy is a professional certificate program designed to teach the principles of plant breeding to seed industry personnel.

The course is targeted toward individuals who are currently involved in plant breeding programs but may lack the academic background in genetics theory and practice to advance as independent breeders. Current breeders who desire a refresher course or would like to broaden their expertise would also be potential participants.

Enrollees meet for a half dozen six-day sessions over two years. Readings and exercises continue online to allow participants to maintain current employment while being involved in the course. Course instructors are internationally recognized experts — Kent Bradford, Allen Van Deynze, Rale Gjuric, Rita Mumm, Todd Wehner, and a number of guest lecturers from private industry. The academy started in 2006 and has been held in Europe, Africa, Asia, as well as the United States. To learn more about the Plant Breeding Academy.

Joy Patterson 
Plant Breeding Academy 


Arboretum and Public Garden events

For more information, visit the arboretum website:

Folk Music Jam Session 
Friday, December 18, 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 networking event: December 10, 2015

Seed Central hosts speakers and networking events that bring together seed and food professionals, UC Davis faculty, scientists, and students. The December 10 event will be held in the Buehler Alumni Center.

Networking runs from 4:30 to 6 p.m., followed by featured speaker Etienne Rabe, vice president of agronomy for Wonderful Citrus. His topic is “The California Citrus Industry: Meeting the Challenges to Stay Competitive.” This company is the largest producer of fresh citrus in the United States.

To register for the December Seed Central meeting.

A special roundtable event with seed industry leaders and UC Davis students will be held January 14, 2016. “The Seed Industry is a Great Place for Women to Work — and Men, Too” will be moderated by CA&ES Executive Associate Dean Mary Delany.

Kathleen Bess-Esparza 
Department of Plant Sciences 


Proven Solutions to Drought Stress: January 12–13, 2016

A two-day workshop in January will bring together experts in drought management from the United States, Israel, and Australia. Proven Solutions to Drought Stress: Water Management Strategies for Perennial Crops with Limited and Impaired Water Supplies will be held January 12–13 at the Modesto Centre Plaza in Modesto, California.

This workshop is the result of a partnership among the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the UC ANR California Institute for Water Resources, and the Israeli Agricultural Research Organization. Continuing education credits will be available for certified crop advisers, certified professional agronomists, and certified professional soil classifiers. 

Registration is $80 and is limited to 300 people. For additional information and to register by December 18, 2015

Doug Parker 
UC ANR California Institute for Water Resources 


Measuring Fruit and Vegetable Flavor, Color, and Texture: January 20, 2016

The UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center is holding a January 20 workshop on Methods of Measuring Fruit and Vegetable Flavor, Color, and Texture. This event, organized by UC Cooperative Extension fruit and vegetable products specialist Diane Barrett, will be held in the ARC Conference Center.

This course is designed for those working in the fresh produce and processed fruit and vegetable industries — growers, packinghouse operators, and retail and foodservice personnel, as well as individuals involved in quality control and research and development activities. The workshop features principles and applications of measuring produce color, flavor, and texture. Examples of fresh and processed fruit and vegetable color and texture measurement will be demonstrated.

Registration is $395 and includes course materials, lunch, and coffee breaks. There are also opportunities for exhibitors to showcase measuring devices and provide interactive demonstrations. To register and learn more.

Penny Stockdale 
UC Davis Postharvest Technology Center 


Risk and safety programs at UC Agriculture and Natural Resources: February 1, 2016

Brian Oatman, director of Risk and Safety Services for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), will present a seminar on February 1 from 4 to 5 p.m. for the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety. His topic is risk and safety programs at UC ANR.

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 


SBC hosts 7th Breeding with Genomics class: February 16–18, 2016

The Seed Biotechnology Center is hosting its 7th Breeding with Genomics class February 16–18, 2016, at the UC Davis Conference Center.

The program is aimed at professionals who are directly or indirectly involved in plant breeding and germplasm improvement. It is an opportunity for breeders to expand their knowledge of new strategies and technologies and for laboratory personnel to appreciate how genetic marker data are applied in breeding programs.

The course covers the basics of DNA markers, quantitative trait loci, association studies, and genomic selection. The instructors are experts in the application of genomics to plant breeding and include Allen Van Deynze, Kent Bradford, Jorge Dubcovsky, Amanda Hulse, Richard Michelmore, Alison Van Eenennaam, Shawn Yarnes, and David Francis.

Registration is $750 until December 15; $850 thereafter. To register and learn more.

Sally Mohr 
Seed Biotechnology Center 


Fruit Ripening and Ethylene Management Workshop: March 1–2, 2016

The Postharvest Technology Center will hold the 22nd annual Fruit Ripening and Ethylene Management Workshop at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) on March 1–2.

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 program will focus on how to increase profits by reducing losses at the receiving end, and by delivering ready-to-eat fruits and fruit-vegetables to consumers. Key topics include the importance of ripening programs, maturity and quality relationships, biology of ethylene production, tools to control ripening and senescence, designing and controlling a ripening program, physiological disorders, and commodity-specific ripening protocols.

Enrollment is $899 and includes all classroom instruction, lab activities, course materials, coffee breaks, lunches, and an evening mixer. To register and learn more.

Penny Stockdale 
Postharvest Technology Center 


International agricultural groundwater conference in San Francisco: June 28–30, 2016

An international conference on agricultural groundwater, organized by UC Davis and the Water Education Foundation, will be held June 28–30, 2016, in the Hyatt Regency at the San Francisco Airport.

Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture 2016: 2nd International Conference Linking Science and Policy will focus on the latest scientific, management, legal, and policy advances for sustaining groundwater resources in agricultural regions throughout the world. The conference will bring together agricultural water managers, regulatory agency personnel, policy and decision makers, scientists, NGOs, agricultural leaders, and consultants working at the nexus of groundwater and agriculture. The conference addresses a wide range of topics: sustainable groundwater management, groundwater quality protection, groundwater-surface water interactions, the groundwater-energy nexus, agricultural BMPs for groundwater management and protection, monitoring, data collection/management/assessment, modeling tools, and agricultural groundwater management, regulation, and economics.

UC Davis faculty are encouraged to mark the date and consider submitting an abstract to this unique conference focusing on groundwater in key agricultural regions in California, North America, and throughout the world. Deadline for abstracts has been extended until January 15, 2016. Click hereto access the abstract submittal form.

For more information on the 2016 conference and on the topics covered during the first conference in 2010.

Thomas Harter 
Department of Land, Air and Water Resources