January 14, 2016

kids festival

A message from Dean Helene Dillard: Roaring ahead, best wishes for an outstanding year

Dean Helene Dillard

Happy New Year and welcome back! I hope everyone had a chance to relax and enjoy the December break between quarters. Returning to campus was a reimmersion into bicycles, traffic circles, email, coffee shops, and welcome rain. This past year was quite an amazing year for the college, with exceptional matriculating undergraduate and graduate students, outstanding new faculty, top-10 rankings across several different parameters, exciting press releases and recognition, strong grant funding, and numerous national and international awards acknowledging the excellence of our faculty, staff, and students. We know this is rooted in community dedication and commitment to our mission.

2016 will be another incredibly exciting year for the college. We are attracting record numbers of applications for fall admission to our majors, and if we continue on last year’s trajectory, we will yield a high percentage of the top-ranked students. We are on a path to hire 15 to 20 new faculty, and we will continue our investments in startups, renovations, and other instruction and infrastructure needs. Our college is an active participant in University Development’s “Big Idea” process, which will provide me and the development team with numerous fundable needs and innovative ideas as we engage with stakeholders and potential donors.

This month we also enthusiastically welcome Penny Herbert, who is the new executive assistant dean for the college.  And we are in the process of identifying a new director of communications.

In December, the college academic and strategic planning committee completed its work and submitted an excellent report to me titled “Meeting the Challenges of 21st Century Global Change.” The committee convened in October 2015 and met weekly throughout the fall quarter. The charge to the committee was to develop a small set of inclusive, innovative, and forward-thinking college priorities that build on the 2013 Visioning Committee Report and the 2015 Academic and Strategic Planning Survey. The CA&ES Policy Council will review the report this month, and schedule discussions with the committee on any clarifications that are needed. The report will then be released to the Dean’s Council, department chairs, faculty, and the broader college for review, discussion, and implementation. I am quite excited to have this document as a fresh guide for our future success. 

This year, Currents dean’s messages will not only come from me, but also from the associate deans in the college: Mary Delany, Ron Tjeerdema, Dave Campbell, Sue Ebeler, Jan Hopmans, and Ed Lewis. Stay tuned for more updates as we roar into 2016, and best wishes for an outstanding year!

Helene R. Dillard
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

P.S. Contact Robin DeRieux with information about your groundbreaking publications, exciting conferences and workshops, and great stories about faculty, staff, and students so we can spread the word through our communications outlets.




Steven Nadler appointed chair of Department of Entomology and Nematology

MichaelProfessor and nematologist Steven Nadler has been appointed chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He succeeds Michael Parrella, who has accepted a position as the dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Idaho.

Nadler will serve a five-year term, beginning January 1, 2016. He previously chaired the Department of Nematology for six years until the two departments merged in 2011. “Steve is an exceptionally strong researcher and teacher and has considerable administrative experience,” said Parrella, who served as chair from 1991–1999 and from 2009–2015. “I am confident he will continue to move the nationally ranked Department of Entomology and Nematology forward. It is good to know that I am leaving the department in very good hands." 

To learn more about Steven Nadler, read a blog post by department writer Kathy Keatley Garvey.

Steven Nadler
Department of Entomology and Nematology


Carolyn Slupsky, Neal Williams, and Qi Zhang named new Chancellor’s Fellows


Carolyn Slupsky

Carolyn Slupsky
Three CA&ES faculty members — Carolyn Slupsky, Neal Williams, and Qi Zhang — are among 11 new 2015–16 Chancellor’s Fellows recently announced.
Carolyn Slupsky’s research in the departments of Nutrition, and Food Science and Technology spans food, nutrition, and health. She has developed new understandings of the interactions of food, gut microbiota, and mammalian host metabolism. Slupsky also is using nuclear magnetic resonance technology to investigate citrus greening disease, a devastating bacterial infection in citrus trees now threatening the citrus industry. Slupsky joined the UC Davis faculty as an assistant professor in 2009 and was promoted to full professor in 2015.
Neal Williams
Neal Williams

Neal Williams’ research for the Department of Entomology and Nematology focuses on the ecology and evolution of bees and other pollinator insects and their interactions with flowering plants, especially in light of changing landscapes. His work is particularly timely given concern over the global decline in bees and other pollinators. He is noted for his ability to communicate research findings to California agriculture, especially the almond industry. Williams joined the UC Davis faculty in 2009 and received tenure as an associate professor in 2013.


Qi Zhang
Qi Zhang

Qi Zhang’s work for the Department of Environmental Toxicology has created landmark approaches to analyzing aerosol mass spectrometer data. Her work is critical for understanding and modeling the effects of aerosols on air quality, climate, and human health. She joined the UC Davis faculty in 2009 and was promoted to associate professor in 2012. She has published more than 90 peer-reviewed papers that have been cited more than 7,000 times, a testament to the value of her papers and to the atmospheric science community.


The Chancellor’s Fellowship program, begun in 2000, recognizes some of the best young faculty members at UC Davis — their accomplishments so far, as well as their potential. Each receives a prize and retains the Chancellor’s Fellow title for five years. The Chancellor’s Club and the university’s Annual Fund support the program. Throughout the past 15 years, UC Davis has honored 98 Chancellor’s Fellows from across the campus. Read more about this year’s Chancellor’s Fellows.

Carolyn Slupsky
Department of Nutrition

Neal Williams
Department of Entomology and Nematology

Qi Zhang
Department of Environmental Toxicology


Frank Zalom selected fellow of the Royal Entomological Society

Frank Zalom
Frank Zalom

Integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, a distinguished professor of entomology and past president of the Entomological Society of America, is a newly selected fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, London.

Zalom is being honored for his “significant contributions to insect science,” according to society president J. A. Pickett. The Royal Entomological Society plays a national and international role in disseminating information about insects and improving communication among entomologists. Founded in London in 1833, the society counts eminent scientists Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace among its past fellows.

Most recently, Zalom served as president of the Entomological Foundation in 2015. Throughout his career, he has been heavily involved in research and leadership in integrated pest management (IPM) activities at the state, national, and international levels. He directed the UC Statewide IPM Program for 16 years (1986–2002). Read a blog post by entomology writer Kathy Keatley Garvey to learn more.

Frank Zalom
Department of Entomology and Nematology




Nominations sought for 2016 Kinsella Memorial Prize

Nominations are due by Monday, March 14, for the Kinsella Memorial Prize, which goes to the CA&ES graduate student with the most outstanding Ph.D. dissertation submitted to Graduate Studies between March 7, 2015, and March 4, 2016. The major professor of the recipient must have a CA&ES appointment.

Each graduate group/program may submit one nomination. Nominations from the graduate group/program chair should include: the name and department of the major professor, a one-page abstract of the dissertation, and a letter (maximum of three pages) that elaborates on the following:

  • the quality and originality of the work
  • the multidisciplinary impact of the research
  • the importance of the research to the college’s mission to serve agriculture, the environment, and human health and development

The CA&ES Graduate Education Subcommittee will make the selection, and the winner will be announced during the Graduate Studies Commencement ceremony. Please send nominations to Brenda Nakamoto in the CA&ES Dean’s Office.

Brenda Nakamoto

CA&ES Dean’s Office 

(530) 752-1606



Arboretum and Public Garden events

For more information, visit the arboretum website: http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

Walking in the Woods with Chemistry
Now through March 31, Ruth Risdon Storer Garden, Mediterranean Collection, Conifer Collection, Mary Wattis Brown Garden of California Native Plants
Explore this temporary exhibit to discover how a plant can cure cancer, what plant molecules create the smell in soap and perfume, and how a plant defends itself chemically. Spread across several collections in the arboretum, this exhibit shows some of the research of chemistry professor Dean Tantillo, plant biology professor Philipp Zerbe, and chemistry Ph.D. candidate Nhu Nguyen. Learn more about the exhibit. See a map of the arboretum for location of exhibits.

Folk Music Jam Session

Folk Music Jam Session
Folk Music Jam Session

Fridays, January 15 and 29; February 12 and 26; March 11, noon to 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.

Winter Birds in Davis: slide show and tour
Saturday, January 16, 10:30 a.m., Environmental Horticulture 146
Learn about birds that winter in Davis during a slide show talk. Then take a walk to see birds in the arboretum (weather permitting). This event is free.

Storytime through the Seasons: Climbing up the Ginkgo Tree
GinkgoSunday, January 31, 1 to 3 p.m., Wyatt Deck (rain location: 148 Environmental Horticulture)
Celebrate the Chinese New Year in the arboretum by exploring the cultural and natural world of Asia. Experience Asian culture in a whole new light with stories, activities, and experiences in the East Asian collection. Sponsored by the Arboretum Ambassadors, the event is free. All ages are welcome.

Open Mic Night under the Stars
Saturday, February 8, 6 to 8 p.m., Wyatt Deck (rain location: Environmental Horticulture 146)
Join in on a free night of fun out in nature with talented local artists. The arboretum is hosting an open mic night featuring poets, comedians, and more. For mature audiences.

Walk with Warren
Walk with WarrenWednesday, February 10, noon to 1 p.m., Arboretum Gazebo
Join Warren Roberts, the arboretum’s superintendent emeritus, storyteller, and punster, for an engaging noontime exploration of winter in the arboretum’s gardens and collection.

Biodiversity Museum Day
Saturday, February 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., multiple locations (including Arboretum Headquarters)
Go behind the scenes to explore displays from nine biology-focused campus museums. Talk to scientists and students, and participate in free family-friendly activities. Those visiting the arboretum will be invited to tour collections, learn about flower pressing, heirloom herbs, and more.

Relaxation Day in the Arboretum
Saturday, February 20, 1 to 3 p.m., lawn west of the Arboretum Gazebo
The arboretum is partnering with the campus “Mind Spa” to help in a day of relaxation before midterms. Participate in a yoga class, coloring workshop, and more. All ages are welcome to this free event.

Amazing Acacias
Amazing AcaciasSaturday, February 27, 2 p.m., Putah Creek Lodge
The late winter display of yellow blossoms in the Eric E. Conn Acacia Groves is spectacular. It features more than 50 different acacias from throughout the world.

Native California Elderberry Flute-making Workshop
Sunday, February 28, 1 to 3 p.m., Environmental Horticulture 146
Learn how to make and play a native California elderberry flute. East Bay Regional Parks docent Antonio Flores will talk about the culture of flute making and also about the endangered elderberry beetle. Materials will be supplied. Bring a sharpened pocket knife. The event is sponsored by the Arboretum Ambassadors. All ages are welcome.




Seed Central networking event: January 14, 2016

Seed Central hosts speakers and networking events that bring together seed and food professionals, UC Davis faculty, scientists, and students. The January 14 event will be held in the UC Davis Conference Center from 4 to 6 p.m., followed by networking until 7 p.m.

A roundtable with seed industry leaders and UC Davis students will address “The Seed Industry is a Great Place for Women to Work — and Men, Too.” Moderated by CA&ES Executive Associate Dean Mary Delany, participants include Risa DeMasi, partner in Grassland Oregon and chair of the American Seed Trade Association; Teresa Mitzel, head of Production Selection Vegetables NA, Sygenta Seeds, Inc.; Cecilia Chi-Ham, director of research planning, HM.Clause; Donna Harris, tomato pre-breeder, Bayer Crop Science Vegetable Seeds/Nunhems USA; Jana Mentzer, US Row Crops Commercial Production Lead, Monsanto Company; Renée Lafitte, DuPont research fellow and Woodland site lead, DuPont Pioneer; Sonali Mookerjee, lettuce breeder, Enza Zaden; Tamara Miller, Ph.D. student, crop improvement; Randi Jimenez, Ph.D. student, horticulture and agronomy; Jenna Gallegos, Ph.D. student, plant biology; Weiyuan Zhu, master’s graduate, horticulture and agronomy; Estefania Vincenti, master’s graduate, horticulture and agronomy; Mengyuan Xiao, Ph.D. student, horticulture and agronomy; and Leonela Carriedo, Ph.D. student, plant biology. Registration is requested.

On February 11, the speaker is Paul Gepts, professor of plant sciences and a UC Davis geneticist and plant breeder. His topic is Grain Legume Breeding in California and East Africa — Contrasting Endeavors. The February Seed Central event will feature a showcase of cutting-edge technologies from Blue River Technology, Trace Genomics, and Pacific Biosciences of California.

Kathleen Bess-Esparza

Department of Plant Sciences




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


World of Honey tasting: January 27, 2016

HoneyThe Honey and Pollination Center is hosting a public honey tasting of California honey on January 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Robert Mondavi Institute’s Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theater. The tasting will be complemented with a short lecture on beekeeping practices by Elina Lastro Niño, UC Davis extension apiculturist.

Registration is $30 (general), $25 (UC Davis affiliates), and $12.50 (students). To register and learn more.

Liz Luu
Amina Harris
Honey and Pollination 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


A Celebration with Mead and Honey: February 6, 2016

The Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science will hold a fundraiser, The Feast: A Celebration with Mead and Honey, on February 6 in the RMI Sensory Building foyer from 6 to 9 p.m. Proceeds will support the work of the Honey and Pollination Center.

The event features a new menu created by Ann Evans, author of the “Davis Farmers Market Cookbook,” and Kathi Riley, caterer and past chef of San Francisco’s Zuni Café. Registration for this event is $125; deadline is February 2. To register and learn more.

Amina Harris
Honey and Pollination Center


Biodiversity Museum Day: February 13, 2016

kids biodiversityUC Davis will celebrate its fifth annual Biodiversity Museum Day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 13, with a campuswide open house showcasing 11 specialized research and teaching collections (five more than last year).

New to Biodiversity Day are the Nematode Collection, Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, California Raptor Center, Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, and the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. They will join the Center for Plant Diversity, Botanical Conservatory, Paleontology Collections, Anthropology Collection, Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, and the Bohart Museum of Entomology for a day of science exploration.

Biodiversity Museum Day is billed as a special day for the public to go behind the scenes to learn how scientists conduct research, to gain first-hand educational experience, and to see some of the curators' favorite pieces. The event is free and open to the public. To learn more, read a blog post by entomology writer Kathy Garvey.

Ernesto Sandoval
Botanical Conservatory


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 $850. 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


Postharvest Technology Short Course: June 13–24, 2016

postharvestEnrollment is now open for the 38th annual Postharvest Technology of Horticultural Crops Short Course to be held June 13–24, 2016 at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) and field locations.

This two-week course is an intensive study of the biology and current technologies used for handling fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals in California. The first week will be held at the ARC and features lectures and demonstrations on a broad spectrum of postharvest topics. The second (optional) week is a field tour visiting a variety of postharvest operations. The enrollment fee is $2,250 for the first week and $3,150 (plus additional lodging fees) for both weeks. To learn more please visit the course website.

Penny Stockdale
UC Davis 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 here to 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