November 12, 2015

Louise Ferguson
Louise Ferguson

A Message from Dean Helene Dillard: innovations for the developing worlddean

I recently participated in the grand opening of the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s new on-campus demonstration center. It is located close to the arboretum and is adjacent to the Environmental Horticulture buildings. If you have a chance, go check it out. This outdoor center displays African and Asian vegetables in raised beds, along with technologies such as solar dryers, zero-energy cool chambers, and solar pumps with drip irrigation. These technologies and others like them are designed to help smallholder farmers in developing countries grow and store fruits and vegetables to improve diets and economic well-being.

One of the greatest challenges facing the world today is to find new ways to sustainably produce more food with less waste. That is why it’s heartening to see projects like this demonstration center come to life. We have an obligation to share what we’ve learned in our universities to help people in the developing world improve their quality of life. A primary goal of the Horticulture Innovation Lab is to improve livelihoods through higher profits and diversified, nutrient-rich diets.

The Horticulture Innovation Lab and its international teams have trained farmers and agricultural scientists in more than 30 countries. It has active centers at universities in Honduras and Thailand that adapt and promote the team’s agricultural solutions. The UC Davis center will demonstrate the many horticultural technologies used by our researchers with smallholder farmers in developing countries.

The Horticulture Innovation Lab is one of five Innovation Labs headquartered at UC Davis. These programs — part of the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative — are delivering life-changing technologies and strategies to people who need them.

In addition to the Innovation Labs, our college hosts additional efforts that are helping other countries. The International Programs Office serves as a hub to provide training and technology development for farmers in countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iraq, Kenya, and Vietnam. Just last month UC Davis and Pakistan’s leading agricultural university celebrated a new partnership to facilitate faculty and graduate student research between both countries and to update curriculum and technical resources.


Angelos Deltsidis, an international postharvest specialist with the Horticulture Innovation Lab, shows how a solar dryer works at the grand opening of the program’s new on-campus demonstration center.
Angelos Deltsidis, an international postharvest specialist with the Horticulture Innovation Lab, shows how a solar dryer works at the grand opening of the program’s new on-campus demonstration center.
We are also part of the African Orphan Crops consortium, which is working to improve the quality of indigenous food crops and tree species that have been neglected by researchers and industry because these crops are not economically important on the global market. The consortium is sequencing, assembling, and annotating the genomes of 101 selected orphan crops. The consortium also opened an African Plant Breeding Academy in Kenya to improve plant materials that will be offered to smallholder farmers.


For many years, distinguished nutrition professor Kay Dewey has been leading efforts to conduct research on maternal and child nutrition, infant feeding, and the assessment of child growth in low-income countries, as well as for disadvantaged groups in the United States. She established the Program in International and Community Nutrition in 1987 as a focal point for this work.

In a few weeks, we will be joining with family and friends in our traditional Thanksgiving celebrations. We are very fortunate to live in a country with such abundance. Let’s also give thanks this year for our international programs that are bringing better nutrition and well-being to individuals in other countries.

Helene R. Dillard,

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences




Louise Ferguson honored with ASHS Outstanding Extension Publication

Louise Ferguson
Louise Ferguson

Louise Ferguson, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences, received the ASHS Outstanding Extension Publication Award for 2014 as co-author of the paper, “Transformation of an Ancient Crop: Preparing California ‘Manazanillo’ Table Olives for Mechanical Harvesting,” which was published in HortTechnology.

Ferguson’s co-author is Sergio Castro Garcia from the University of Cordoba, Spain. Key partners in the project were John A. Miles, a retired UC Davis agricultural engineer who was the engineer on the project for the last five years, and Burt Vanucci, a fabricating engineer in Teaching Research and Animal Care Services.

The project spanned eight years and involved cooperators from Spain, Portugal, and Florida; from the UC Davis departments of Food Science and Technology, and Biological and Agricultural Engineering; and Cooperative Extension farm advisors from three counties.

Louise Ferguson


Paul Gepts to receive award for work on plant genetic resources

Paul GeptsPlant sciences professor Paul Gepts will receive the Frank N. Meyer Medal for Plant Genetic Resources from the Crop Science Society of America on November 17, during the organization’s annual meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The award is for his research and teaching contributions to the study of crop domestication and the origins of agriculture. This information has been used to guide the conservation of crop genetic resources in gene banks and farmers' fields, with special emphasis on Phaseolus beans (e.g., pinto, red kidney, navy, and lima beans) and the development of improved varieties of these beans.

His research has documented how different domesticated beans are from their wild-growing ancestors in Latin America and how several pathogens have co-evolved with the bean plants they infect, leading to improved breeding strategies. The research has also led to the demonstration of DNA fingerprinting to show the lack of novelty in a utility patent and therefore adjudicate a patent dispute in the courts.

Gepts credits the long-term contributions of graduate students and visiting scientists in his group and collaborations with researchers in Latin America, Europe, and Africa.

Paul Gepts
Department of Plant Science




Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award: Call for Nominations

Nominations for the Eric Bradford and Charlie Rominger Agricultural Sustainability Leadership Award are due by January 11, 2016. The award was established in memory of Eric Bradford, professor of animal science, and in memory of Charlie Rominger, a fifth-generation farmer and well-known advocate of farmland preservation and wildlife habitat restoration. The award recognizes and honors individuals who exhibit the leadership, work ethic, and integrity epitomized by Bradford and Rominger.

Members of the UC Davis community are invited to nominate UC farm advisors and Cooperative Extension specialists, as well as UC Davis graduate students, faculty members, and in special cases, alumni, for their work toward agricultural sustainability. Nominees for the award should demonstrate leadership with a broad understanding of agricultural systems and the environment.

The recipient will receive a cash award and may be invited to give a lecture sponsored by the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, which manages the award selection process. For nomination forms and more information about the award. The award recipient will be announced in spring 2016.

Aubrey White

Agricultural Sustainability Institute



UC Davis Plant Breeding Center and Student Farm awarded grant for organic agriculture

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently announced an Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) grant for organic plant breeding at UC Davis.

The project, developed by the Plant Breeding Center and the Student Farm, will create an experiential learning-based public plant breeding pipeline for organic cultivar development. It will focus on graduate student field training in plant breeding by means of developing cultivars for organic farming systems. Graduate students will work with the Organic Seed Alliance to meet with organic producers and organic seed companies to discuss breeding challenges.

Project teams are in the beginning stages of development, and an initial meeting with organic growers was scheduled for early November.

Amanda Pietras
Plant Breeding Center


Western Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Center to Enhance Food Safety

UC Davis will be collaborating with 13 western states and two territories in the newly established Western Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Center to Enhance Food Safety at Oregon State University.

The initiative is a federally funded project to help growers and processors of fruits, vegetables, and nuts comply with requirements established under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The $1.2 million in funding will be used to develop a cadre of trainers to teach others how to conduct FSMA compliant workshops for small and midsized farms, beginning farmers, small-scale food processors, and wholesale produce vendors.

Cooperative Extension Specialist Linda Harris, Department of Food Science and Technology, is the lead contact for the states of Arizona and California. Extension Research Specialist Trevor Suslow and several additional faculty at UC Davis and the University of Arizona helped pull together materials for the grant application and will actively participate in the center.

Linda Harris
Department of Food Science and Technology


Arboretum and Public Garden events

For more information, visit the arboretum website:

Arboretum Plant Clearance Sale
Saturday, November 14, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Arboretum Teaching Nursery
The UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery will hold its last plant sale of the year. The arboretum has a large assortment of regionally adapted, water thrifty, and beautiful plants that will 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.

Folk Music Jam Session
Fridays, November 20 and December 4, 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.

Arboretum Makerspace Series
Sunday, November 22, 1 to 3 p.m., Arboretum Wyatt Deck
The focus of this event will be on plants and Native American culture. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about dreamcatchers and drums, acorns and their use, edible plants, and Native American games. The event is free and appropriate for all ages.

The Tanoak Tree: An Environmental History of a Pacific Coast Hardwood
Sunday, November 22, 3 p.m., Whole Foods Market Annex, Davis Commons Shopping Center
Tanoak is a resilient and common hardwood tree native to California and southwestern Oregon. Evergreen State College Botany Professor Frederica Bowcutt will talk about the complex history of cultural, sociopolitical, and economic factors affecting the tree’s fate. A book signing will follow the presentation. The event is free and parking is available in the Davis Commons Shopping Center.

Wednesday Walk with Warren
Wednesday, December 9, noon, Arboretum Gazebo
Join Warren Roberts, superintendent emeritus of the arboretum and renowned storyteller, for an engaging exploration of the UC Davis Arboretum’s west-end gardens. The event is free and one-hour parking is available along Garrod Drive near the gazebo.




Seed Central networking event: November 12, 2015

Seed Central hosts speakers and networking events that bring together seed and food professionals, UC Davis faculty, scientists, and students. The November 12 event will be held in the UC Davis Conference Center and includes three separate sessions.

A seminar runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Speakers include Bernice Slutsky, vice president for domestic and international policy with the American Seed Trade Association and Morven McClean, executive director of the International Life Sciences Research Foundation. They will address linking research to emerging policy and regulation on new plant breeding techniques in a discussion moderated by Josette Lewis, associate director of the World Food Center. A catered lunch is available for this session, but a separate registration is requested.

From 1:30 to 4 p.m. a special session will showcase intellectual property protection.  Speakers include John Schoenecker, director of intellectual property with AMPA HM Clause; James Weatherly, executive director, Seed Innovation and Protection Alliance; Katherine McLaughlin, special agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Alissa Eagle, assistant general counsel, IP, Monsanto Company, Seminis Vegetable Seeds, Inc.

Networking runs from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., followed by featured speaker Ian Korf, UC Davis associate professor of molecular and cellular biology. His topic will be From Bench to Keyboard and Back — Integrating Experimental Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics to Understand Intron-mediated Enhancement.

To register for the afternoon and evening sessions.

On December 10, the featured speaker will be from Nugget Markets and will talk about this family-owned and operated grocery chain serving the greater Sacramento Valley since 1926.

Kathleen Bess-Esparza

Department of Plant Sciences



Introduction to Mead Making: November 13–14, 2015

The Honey and Pollination Center will hold a workshop, Beginner’s Introduction to Mead Making, November 13–14 at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.

Explore this fermented beverage — from its rich history to its recent rebirth in the United States. Participants will taste and learn the styles, ingredient selection, and steps to making good mead. This short course is coordinated with four of the leading mead makers in the United States, along with faculty and staff from the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology.

Registration is $575. To register and learn more.

Amina Harris
Honey and Pollination Center


UC Soil and Water Short Course: November 17, 2015

The UC Vegetable Research and Information Center will sponsor a UC Soil and Water Short Course on November 17 at the Buehler Alumni Center.

This short course will focus on the practical aspects of soil fertility in an era of escalating fertilizer costs and increasing government regulation of on-farm nutrient management. The topics covered will include getting the maximum value from soil and water testing, comparing fertilizer sources, irrigation effects on soil nutrient management, and fertilizer management and environmental protection. Although the focus will be on nutrient management in annual cropping systems, much of the material presented will be relevant to perennial crops as well. Presentations will address fertility management issues for both conventional and organic production. The content will be geared toward commercial-scale production, and will assume attendees have a working knowledge of basic soil science.

Growers, consultants, government agency personnel, and others involved in soil fertility management will find this course valuable. Attendance would be useful for anyone preparing to take the California Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) exam. This course is approved for six hours of CCA credit (3.0 nutrient management, 3.0 soil and water management.) This course is not appropriate for home gardeners.

Registration is $180. The registration fee includes lunch, light refreshments, and study materials. To learn more and to register.

Gale Pérez
Department of Plant Sciences


Seminar and book signing by the author of “Lentil Underground”: November 19, 2015

Liz Carlisle, author of “Lentil Underground,” will be leading a seminar on her book, followed by a book signing on November 19 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in Plant and Environmental Science, room 3001.

The book confronts the global food system in a little known rural community in the heart of Big Sky Country. A handful of colorful pioneers buck the chemically based food chain and the entrenched power of agribusiness by stubbornly banding together. Unearthing the deep roots of this movement, the book introduces readers to a memorable cast of characters, from gun-toting libertarians and Christian homesteaders to peace sign-waving environmental activists.  Journalist and native Montanan Liz Carlisle weaves a richly reported narrative that will be welcomed by readers of food and farm memoirs, as well as anyone concerned with the future of American agriculture.

Lentil dishes to sample will be offered and books will be made available for purchase and signing. Two gift baskets (containing a copy of the book, some Timeless Natural Food lentils, and some UC Davis olive oil) will be given away to two attendees who must have registered and attended the seminar to be eligible to win. To register.

Amanda Pietras
Plant Breeding Center


Food, Ag, and Health Solution Summit: December 1–3, 2015

The Innovation Institute for Food and Health is partnering with the World Food Center and other groups to hold a Food, Ag, and Health Solution Summit at the UC Davis Conference Center on December 1–3.

The three-day event will bring together entrepreneurs, farmers, industry executives, researchers, students, investors, and technology developers in an “out-of-the-box” format.  Bridging silos, crossing disciplines, and fusing new partnerships, the summit aims to find the solutions needed for feeding 10 billion people on a rapidly changing planet. Some of the activities planned include a precision ag workshop, an idea hack, an app hackathon, and a food, ag, and health innovation showcase.

For more detail on the program and to register.

Brad Hooker
World Food Center


Thomas and Nina Leigh Distinguished Alumni Seminar: December 2, 2015

Professor Timothy Paine of UC Riverside will present the Thomas and Nina Leigh Distinguished Alumni Seminar on December 2 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Memorial Union II.  His topic is Insect Invasion Biology and California Landscapes. A reception will precede the seminar from 5 to 6 p.m.

 Paine is widely recognized for his work in landscape and forest entomology, as well as the integrated pest management of woody ornamentals.  His research has developed successful biological control projects and explored the biology and ecology of invasive pests and their interactions with other species.

He is a longtime member and fellow of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). Paine earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in entomology from UC Davis.

Kathy Garvey
Department of Entomology and Nematology


Robot Automation — Mechanization in Specialty Crops: December 7, 2015

Nathan Dorn, director of knowledge and innovation for Reiter Affiliated Companies, will present a seminar on December 7 from 4 to 5 p.m. for the Western Center for Agricultural Health and Safety. His topic is Robot Automation — Mechanization in Specialty Crops.

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


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