Names in the News

Jul 28, 2022

Names in the News

Jul 28, 2022

Goncalves named UCCE diversified agriculture advisor for Lake and Mendocino counties 

Clebson Goncalves joined UC Cooperative Extension on July 1 as a diversified agriculture advisor serving Lake and Mendocino counties.

Prior to moving to Cailfornia, Goncalves was a postdoctoral researcher working on the management of turfgrass and ornamental crops for a USDA-SCRI project at the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Tech. 

He has a bachelor's degree in agronomy (focused on plant pathology) and a master's degree and Ph.D. in agronomy sciences (plant production/ weed science) from Brazil as well as an additional master's degree in crop and soil science (turfgrass/weed science) from Auburn University. He led field, greenhouse and lab research with a broad focus on plant production, crop protection and weed sciences.

Goncalves' current research centers around diversified agricultural farms, including vegetables, fruit and nut crops. He is also interested in integrated weed management practices exploring chemical and organic options, improving pesticide application technology, drone use for data collection, pesticide application and pollinator-serving plant communities.

Goncalves is based in Lakeport and can be reached at (707) 263-6838 and goncalves@ucanr.edu. Follow him on Twitter @clebson_g and on Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/clebson-gon%C3%A7alves-4894a76b.   

Satink Wolfson hired as newest fire advisor 

Barb Satink Wolfson began in her role as UC Cooperative Extension fire advisor for Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties on June 30. 

Her primary responsibilities include wildland fire-related research and outreach for the Central Coast region, while building trust, strong partnerships and collaborative relationships within both professional and non-professional communities. 

Satink Wolfson earned her B.S. and M.S. in forestry from Northern Arizona University, and brings to UC ANR more than 20 years of fire-research and outreach experience in Arizona. Her favorite job, though, was working as a backcountry ranger in Yosemite National Park during her undergraduate years.

In her new role, Satink Wolfson hopes to address some of the questions behind the use of prescribed fire in a variety of ecosystems (such as coastal prairies and oak woodlands), and help all Central Coast communities build resilience to wildland fire so residents can live safely within fire-adapted landscapes. 

Satink Wolfson, who will be based at the UCCE office in Hollister in San Benito County starting Aug. 1, can be reached at bsatinkwolfson@ucanr.edu.

Beneficial ‘Bug Ninja' Middleton joins IPM 

Eric Middleton, known as the “Bug Ninja” to fans of the television show “American Ninja Warrior,” began his new role as an integrated pest management advisor at UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego County on June 6.

As an advisor, Middleton is focused on increasing knowledge and diversifying tools to discourage pesticide use for conventional agricultural practices. As an entomologist, however, Middleton is eager to challenge the way humans perceive and interact with insects by identifying pest management practices that are beneficial for the ecosystem overall.

Now that he is living in San Diego, an area with diverse agriculture and floriculture, Middleton said that he is excited for the opportunity to work with different plant types and farms on a regular basis.

Before joining UC ANR, Middleton worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Florida's Citrus Research and Education Center, developing management options for the Lebbeck mealybug in Florida citrus.

Middleton earned a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Utah and a doctorate in entomology from the University of Minnesota-.

Middleton is based at the UC Cooperative Extension office in San Diego and can be reached at egmiddleton@ucanr.edu.

Zuber named UCCE orchard crops advisor 

Cameron Zuber has been named UC Cooperative Extension orchard crops advisor for Merced and Madera counties as of June 6. For Merced County, he will cover orchard crops such as stone fruit, walnuts and almonds, not including pistachios and figs. For Madera County, he will work with walnuts.

Zuber joined UC Cooperative Extension in 2016 as a staff researcher in Merced County. In his education and professional career, he has worked in understanding environmental and agricultural systems and their interactions with people, society and governance. Specifically with orchard crops, he has worked on fumigants and other soil pest controls, rootstocks and scion varietals, cultural practices relating to tree spacing and whole orchard recycling. He also has studied flood irrigation for groundwater recharge, irrigation and water management and soil, water and air interactions. 

He earned his bachelor's degree in environmental biology and management from UC Davis and a master's degree in environmental systems from UC Merced.

Zuber is based at the UC Cooperative Extension office located in Merced and can be reached at cazuber@ucanr.edu and (209) 385-7403.

Shogren named UCCE environmental horticulture advisor 

Chris Shogren joined UC ANR on June 5 as the environmental horticulture advisor for UC Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles County.

Shogren described his new role as “giving back to the community.” While he has more experience “growing plants than playing with insects,” Shogren's expertise includes all aspects of horticulture such as entomology, pathology, water use and more.

He earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture and agricultural business from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and a doctorate in entomology from UC Riverside. 

Much of what he knows not only comes from his formal academic training, but what he learned from his parents. Shogren grew up in Hemet, 25 miles outside of Palm Springs, and spent his childhood working at his parents' wholesale nursery. Building rapport with nurseries comes naturally to Shogren and he has been advising them since his days as a Ph.D. student.

Early in his career, Shogren worked on horticulture for Disneyland before joining the Citrus Research Board, where he focused on biocontrol rearing. Prior to joining UC ANR, Shogren mass reared fruit flies for U.S. Department of Agriculture research.

As an advisor, Shogren's top priority is to develop his program by first understanding the local issues and the key players that are addressing them such as advisors, researchers and industry groups. He believes that doing so will paint a clear picture of where and how he can be the most effective.

Shogren is based out of the UC Cooperative Extension office in Los Angeles County and can be reached at cjshogren@ucanr.edu.

Singh joins UCCE Central Sierra as local food systems advisor 

Hardeep Singh joined UCCE Central Sierra as a local food systems advisor on June 1.

He transferred from the UCCE Fresno office where he worked as an assistant specialist in small farms and specialty crops. Singh, who is from Punjab, India, worked closely with Southeast Asian small farmers, African American farmers, Latino farmers and Punjabi farmers on healthy soil practices, the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program, Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, and UCSF COVID-19 Equity Project since 2020. He also worked as a vineyard operations intern with UCCE Fresno in the summer of 2019.

Singh holds a master's degree in plant science from California State University, Fresno with a distinction as Dean's Graduate Medalist. He also holds a bachelor's degree in agriculture from Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, Punjab, India.

His research background includes crops such as moringa, cover crops, wine grapes, almonds, pistachios and citrus. He also has research experience in irrigation scheduling and nutrition management in moringa, wine grapes, almonds and citrus. 

Singh is interested in developing crop coefficients, studying nitrogen dynamics in specialty crops, and reducing production costs for small farms, which aligns with his goal of reducing poverty by engaging with socially disadvantaged communities and moving agriculture toward greater self-sustainability.

Singh is based in San Andreas and can be reached at hdsing@ucanr.edu and (559) 579-6065.

Mukherjee named urban and small farms advisor 

Amrita Mukherjee joined UC ANR on April 1 as an urban agriculture and small farms advisor serving Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties.

Mukherjee's priority is to understand small farms' practices and needs, and to identify opportunities for improvement and/or collaboration. One challenge that Mukherjee is eager to overcome is getting information to farmers in a timely and organized manner.

“There's so much information out there and it's hard to know who is doing what,” she said. By implementing a communication system, Mukherjee believes that supporting small farms will become more efficient. 

Originally from Bangladesh, Mukherjee grew up in a family of farmers and understands the struggles farmers encounter as laborers and as a business. Her upbringing inspired her to not only pursue a career in agriculture, but to alleviate the hardships that often burden farmers.

Previously, Mukherjee worked for the International Rice Research Institute where she examined flash flood risk-management in her homeland. She also worked for the Horticulture Innovation Lab management team at UC Davis as an assistant specialist in Bangladesh, focused on nutrition impacts of horticultural innovations.  

Mukherjee earned a bachelor's degree in agriculture from Khulna University, a master's degree in biotechnology from Bangladesh Agricultural University, and a master's degree in horticulture, plant biology and post-harvest physiology from Kansas State University.

While she has dedicated the first few months of her role to networking, Mukherjee feels that building rapport with small-scale farmers is an ongoing process that is crucial to her role as an advisor.

When asked what she is most excited about, Mukherjee said that she wants to help farmers grow. Not just their crops, but their business strategy and network. “I don't want to be a supervisor, I want to be a connector,” explained Mukherjee. 

Mukherjee is based out of the UC Cooperative Extension office in San Bernardino County and can be reached at amukherjee@ucanr.edu.

Warne named 4-H Foundation director 

Carolyn Warne has joined UC ANR as California 4-H Foundation director, succeeding Mary Ciricillo, who was promoted in October to UC ANR director of development, managing UC ANR's major gifts team including the foundation director.

Warne brings more than 20 years of fundraising and communications experience in education, sports and arts. She recently moved back to California from England, where she was most recently grants manager for Petersfield Cricket Club. She was responsible for sourcing funding for club projects, which ranged from building renovation to purchasing equipment to providing coaching costs to introduce sports activities in schools. 

Earlier in her career, Warne was responsible for internal and external communications, marketing and fundraising at four different schools, developing multi-channel approaches to student and staff recruitment, brand awareness and fundraising. She also worked for a government-funded organization, assisting local community groups with funding and organizational needs and providing training and grant-writing support. 

Before moving to the U.K., she worked in the development offices of several higher education institutions, including Cornell, Iowa State and San Diego State, recruiting and working with volunteers and raising funds.  

Warne is based at the UC ANR building in Davis and can be reached at cwarne@ucanr.edu.

Sope joins Strategic Communications 

Saoimanu “Saoi” Sope joined UC ANR Strategic Communications as a communications specialist on June 7.

Prior to joining UC ANR, Sope worked in tobacco control policy for the state of California and focused on how to generate effective messaging when targeting elected officials and priority populations. As a project coordinator, Sope launched a podcast as a new communication platform and produced episodes featuring John Mirisch, the former mayor of Beverly Hills, and other representatives of cities that successfully phased out the sale of commercial tobacco products.

Early in her career, Sope worked as a communications specialist for Driscoll's in Watsonville. While her background involves four years of professional experience in communications, it was at Driscoll's that Sope developed a passion for environmental health and desire to merge her creative talent and professional interests. 

Sope earned a bachelor's degree in film and digital media and community studies from UC Santa Cruz and a Master of Public Health degree in environmental health science and certificate in toxicology from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Using her background in film production and public health, Sope is eager to take UC ANR's storytelling to the next level. Her goal as a member of the Strategic Communications team is to not only make UC ANR a household name, but to engage underserved communities.

Based at UC South Coast Research and Extension Center in Irvine, Sope can be reached at (424) 366-0897 and ssope@ucanr.edu. Follow her on Twitter @saoimanu. 

Farrar joins UC SAREP 

Kristen Farrar has joined the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program (SAREP) as communications and proposal coordinator.

Farrar will be responsible for coordinating SAREP's communications for stakeholder education, outreach and engagement. She will also prepare grant proposals and coordinate SAREP's small grants program.

Before joining UC ANR, she was assistant director at Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis, where she worked to promote the use of virus-tested planting stock in specialty crops such as grapes and fruit trees. At FPS, she also served as National Clean Plant Network coordinator for NCPN-Grapes and co-chair of the NCPN Education & Outreach committee. She has held positions at several universities conducting research in plant pathology and teaching. 

Farrar earned a bachelor's degree in environmental policy analysis and planning from UC Davis and a master's degree in plant pathology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Farrar is based at the ANR building in Davis and can be reached at kfarrar@ucanr.edu

Renteria joins BOC 

Rosemary Renteria has joined the Business Operations Center as a financial services supervisor, supervising and supporting BOC Partner Teams 3 and 4.   

In this position, Renteria will provide support and leadership for the daily business operations of the BOC and UCCE locations. She will provide guidance and oversight of all financial services, account management, work processes and business efficiencies. Also, she is currently serving as interim fiscal officer for BOC Partner Team 3 until this vacancy is filled.

Renteria, who earned a bachelor's degree in Radio/TV Broadcasting at CSU Fresno, is a native of Yolo County and grew up on the outskirts of Woodland, surrounded by tomato and corn fields.   

Before joining ANR, she was the administrative manager for the California History-Social Science Project at UC Davis. On Aug. 1, she will celebrate 33 years of UC service.  

Renteria is based at the ANR Building in Davis and can be reached at rmrenteria@ucanr.edu and (530) 447-0801 ext. 1466. 

Crestmore named BOC assistant 

Cynthia Crestmore joined UC ANR July 25 as an administrative assistant for the Business Operations Center July 25. Crestmore will be working on many cross-BOC activities such as customer service, website updates, administrative procedures, meeting arrangements and a host of other critical needs.  

Crestmore brings a wealth of experience from UC Davis and UC Merced - working in a shared services environment as well as different administrative and academic units – and is familiar with quite a few UC systems. 

On a personal note, she is very interested in safety and earned a safety certificate at UC Davis. The Marin County native is a self-published writer and enthusiastic about environmental conservation and aims to be “waste-free by 2023.”

Crestmore is based at the ANR Building in Davis and can be reached at cacrestmore@ucanr.edu

CASI Workgroup wins Conservation Innovation Award 

Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation Workgroup is receiving the 2022 Conservation Innovation Award from the Soil and Water Conservation Society.

CASI was formed in 1998 under the leadership of Jeffrey P. Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist based at Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center. This group – comprising farmers, scientists, and representatives of public agencies, private industry and environmental groups – develops knowledge and exchanges information about the benefits of reducing tillage in agricultural lands.

In the last 25 years, the no-till and low-till systems being explored by CASI have been widely adopted in much of the United States and in South America. But, in California's Central Valley, less than 1% of production acreage is farmed using conservation tillage. That's “largely because producers lack information, and successful examples of CT systems are only now being developed here,” CASI reported.

With more than 1,500 active members and affiliates, CASI conducts annual conferences to share research and the results of demonstration projects. 

“Our soon-to-be-published long-term research in the San Joaquin Valley provides very strong evidence that the combined use of fundamental soil health principles improves soil health compared to conventional practices for an annual crop rotation common to the region,” Mitchell said. “Our data suggest that farmers stand to gain multiple benefits for the coupled use of these practices by increasing soil structural stability, water infiltration and storage, and agroecosystem biodiversity, while improving the efficiencies of the carbon, nitrogen and water cycles in their production systems.”

The award will be presented at the 2022 Awards Luncheon on Aug. 2 during the society's 77th International Annual Conference in Denver.

Read more about CASI at https://www.plantsciences.ucdavis.edu/news/casi-center-honored-soil-and-water-conservation-society. 

Kisekka honored for advancements in microirrigation 

Isaya Kisekka, associate professor in the departments of Land, Air and Water Resources and Biological and Agricultural Engineering at UC Davis, received the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers' 2022 Netafim Award for Advancements in Microirrigation. The award recognizes excellence in research, development, extension, education or industry. 

Kisekka's research focuses on developing management strategies and technologies to help farmers optimize productivity and net profitability under limited water while exerting minimum negative impacts on the environment.

Kisekka, who is an Agricultural Experiment Station scientist, accepted the award during the society's 2022 international meeting in Houston on July 20. 

UC IPM wins two gold ACE awards 

UC Integrated Pest Management Program won two 2022 Gold Awards from the Association for Communication Excellence. 

One award was in the Information Technology 5: Instructional Design category for the animated online course “Diagnosing Herbicide Injury,” created by Tunyalee Martin, UC IPM associate director for communications; Petr Kosina, content development supervisor; Cheryl Reynolds, interactive learning developer; Kimberly Steinman, former UC IPM editor; and UC Cooperative Extension weed specialists Brad Hanson and Kassim Al-Khatib, both in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences.

The other award was in in the category of Information Technology 3: Website for WeedCUT, a new online tool to manage invasive weeds without pesticides in wildlands. The website was designed by Martin; Jutta Burger and Doug Johnson of Cal IPC; Chinh Lam, UC IPM IT supervisor and lead programmer; and Cheryl Wilen, UC IPM advisor emeritus.   

Read more about Diagnosing Herbicide Injury at https://www.plantsciences.ucdavis.edu/news/video-based-al-khatib-hanson-course-wins-gold-award.