Jan 12, 2021
Douglas Amaral new pomology, water and soils advisor in Kings, Tulare counties

Nine academics have joined University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources during the last six months.

Douglas Amaral is the new pomology, water and soils advisor in Kings and Tulare counties

Douglas Amaral joined UCCE in Kings and Tulare counties as pomology, water and soils advisor on Oct. 1, 2020. In his new role, Amaral will conduct a research and extension program on tree nut crops in Kings County, almond production in Tulare County, and plant-water-soil interactions for permanent tree and vine crops in both Kings and Tulare counties.

Douglas Amaral

“I am very excited to be part of the UC Cooperative Extension system and am looking forward to serving growers, producers, processors, and support industries for their research and extension needs in the Southern San Joaquin Valley,” Amaral said in a news release.

Before joining UCCE, Amaral was a project scientist and postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. His research has focused on the physiology and biochemistry of plant nutrient uptake, and molecular and genetic aspects of nutrient acquisition and tolerance in citrus, almonds, pistachios and other crops.

Amaral said he is currently meeting growers in Kings and Tulare counties and assessing their needs.

“Numerous research needs exist in the tree nut industries, including, but not limited to, irrigation and fertigation efficiency, salinity management, and water use improvement,” he said. “I believe that the most relevant scientific inquiries start with observations of the challenges faced in the field and the opinions of observant growers and the vision of industry leaders.”

Amaral, who was born and raised in Brazil, is fluent in Portuguese and English. He earned a doctoral degree in plant and soil sciences at the University of Delaware, a master’s degree in plant nutrition and soil fertility at Federal University of Lavras, Brazil, and a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at University Center of Lavras, Brazil.

Amaral is based in Hanford and can be reached at (559) 852-2737 and amaral@ucanr.edu. His Twitter handle is @UCCE_DougAmaral.

Apurba Barman named UCCE integrated pest management advisor in Imperial County

Apurba Barman joined UC Cooperative Extension as low desert integrated pest management advisor on Jan. 11, 2021. He will be headquartered at UCCE Imperial County office, which adjoins the UC Desert Research and Extension Center in Holtville.

“I am very excited for my new role as IPM advisor based in Southern California and for the opportunity to serve one of the most important vegetable production regions in the state,” Barman said. “The diversity and intensity of crop production in this region demand targeted research to solve pest management issues and effective extension programs to reach out diverse clientele. I feel prepared for this job with my experience and passion to serve the community.”

Barman earned a bachelor’s degree at Assam Agricultural University in India, and a master’s degree at Texas Tech University, Lubbock. In 2011, he completed a doctoral degree at Texas A&M University in College Station, where he worked on insect pests of cotton. Subsequently, he worked as a cotton extension entomologist with Texas AgriLife Extension Service and developed a research program to understand the extent of damage and management of thrips in the Texas High Plains region.

Barman comes to UC Cooperative Extension from the University of Georgia, where he led a whitefly monitoring and management program targeting cropping systems in the southern region of the state. Barman can be reached at (209) 285-9810, akbarman@ucanr.edu. His Twitter handle is @Ento_Barman.

José Luiz Carvalho de Souza Dias named area agronomy advisor in the northern San Joaquin Valley

José Luiz Carvalho de Souza Dias joined UC Cooperative Extension on Nov. 2, 2020, as an area agronomy and weed management advisor in Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. In his new role, Carvalho de Souza Dias will develop a multi-county extension and applied research program, targeted at solving growers’ problems and optimizing crop yield and sustainability for growers and allied industry. Primary crops will include forage and silage crops, alfalfa, small grains, grain corn, dry beans and cotton.

Prior to joining UCCE, Carvalho de Souza Dias was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he worked on identifying management practices and environmental factors to ensure successful establishment of alfalfa interseeded into corn silage, sustainable management of waterhemp in established alfalfa for dairy systems, and weed control, clover selectivity and resulting yield of grass-clover mixed swards.

“I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with growers, industry and academia within the agriculture industry in the Central Valley. It is amazing how diversified, complex, and productive the different production systems can be in the region,” Carvalho de Souza Dias said. “Knowing that I have the chance to work with many different challenges present in economically viable and sustainable crop production is something that makes me very excited and looking forward to the future.”

Carvalho de Souza Dias earned a doctoral degree in agronomy with a focus on weed science from the University of Florida, a master’s degree in crop protection and bachelor’s in agronomy from São Paulo State University in Brazil. He is fluent in Portuguese and English.

His doctoral research centered on developing and implementing integrated management practices to reduce giant smutgrass populations in bahiagrass pastures. For his master’s degree, he researched herbicide selectivity in sugarcane. Based in Merced, Carvalho de Souza Dias can be reached at (209) 385-7403 and jdias@ucanr.edu.

UCCE feedlot management specialist to work at UC ANR’s Desert Research and Extension Center

Pedro Carvalho joined UC ANR as a UC Cooperative Extension feedlot management specialist in the UC Davis Department of Animal Science, on Aug. 1, 2020.  He is based at the UC Desert Research and Extension Center near Holtville.

Carvalho grew up on his family’s cattle and crop farm in the state of Goias in Brazil. In 2012, while an undergraduate, he came to the United States to work as an intern in the beef cattle reproduction and nutrition labs at The Ohio State University.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in animal science at Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil, he completed a master’s degree at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He recently earned his doctoral degree at Pennsylvania State University, where he conducted research projects to enhance the efficiency of Holstein steers in the feedlot.

“My plan as an extensionist and researcher at the Desert Research and Extension Center is to first understand what the needs are from our feedlot operations in Imperial County,” Carvalho told Stacey Amparano, Farm Smart manager, who wrote a Q&A with him. “After that, I plan to implement and conduct actions (research projects and on-farm training) to help our beef producers and farmworkers. I really hope that I can bring value to our stakeholders by providing information on nutrition and management, as well as helping to train and improve the lives of the workers in feed yards of our state.”

Read the full text of Carvalho’s Q&A with Stacey Amparano at https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=43442. Carvalho can be reached at pcarvalho@ucdavis.edu and (217) 418-0202. Follow Carvalho on Twitter at @pedrocattle.

New youth, families and communities academic coordinator named for Central Coast counties

Shannon Klisch, who served as a community education supervisor at UC Cooperative Extension in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, was promoted to academic coordinator for youth, families and communities programs Nov. 2, 2020.

The new position was created in a reorganization, and allowed the office to maintain existing multi-disciplinary programs, including Master Food Preservers, Master Gardeners, 4-H and CalFresh Healthy Living, UC.

“I am excited to step into this new role,” Klisch said. “I know that my six years of experience managing the CalFresh Healthy Living, UC program will help inform my academic work in community health and that experience has definitely helped prepare me for taking on a leadership role in the other Youth, Families and Communities program areas.”

As community education supervisor, Klisch led the expansion of 4-H programming across San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties through the UC Garden Nutrition Extender program and the 4-H Student Nutrition Advisory Council youth engagement program. Prior to joining UC ANR, Klisch worked as a private consultant with the Center for Family Strengthening.

“I am looking forward to having the time and the mandate to publish the results and accumulated data of our work in food security, positive youth development and healthy communities,” she said.

Klisch earned a master’s degree in community health education at San Jose State University and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and communication from UC San Diego. She holds credentials as a master community health education specialist and community health education specialist. Klisch is headquartered in San Luis Obispo and can be reached at (805) 781-5951 and sklisch@ucanr.edu.

Gerardo Spinelli is the new production horticulture advisor in San Diego County

Gerardo Spinelli joined UC Cooperative Extension in San Diego County as a production horticulture advisor on Oct. 12, 2020. He is working with nurseries, floriculture and controlled environment plant production.

“Since I saw the job description for this position, I thought, ‘Wow, what a cool job!’” Spinelli said. “The agricultural setting of San Diego County is quite unique and so is this position. I’ll be working with thousands of crops, ornamentals, flowers, succulents, palms. And if it wasn’t enough, I also get to work with urban agriculture and a new and dynamic vegetable production industry in hydroponics. Can you dig it?”

Prior to joining UCCE San Diego, Spinelli worked for the Santa Cruz Resource Conservation District since 2015, focusing on irrigation and nitrogen management for strawberry and lettuce. He collaborated with UCCE advisor Michael Cahn to promote the adoption of CropManage, an online decision-support tool that helps farmers optimize irrigation and nitrogen application.

Spinelli also served as a visiting scientist at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources in the late 2010s, where he designed and built hydroponic farming systems for lettuce.

Spinelli grew up in Italy on an olive and vegetable farm on the hills overlooking Florence and is fluent in Italian, English, French and Spanish. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and a master’s degree in tropical agriculture at the University of Florence. He also earned a master’s in international agricultural development and a doctorate in horticulture and agronomy at UC Davis. Spinelli can be reached at (858) 822-7679 and gspinelli@ucanr.edu.

Tian Tian is the new viticulture advisor in Kern County

Tian Tian has been named the UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor in Kern County, beginning Jan. 4, 2021. Tian previously served as a graduate research assistant at Oregon State University in Corvallis, where she conducted experiments and statistical analyses of data sets while completing her doctoral degree.

“I feel very excited to join the UC Cooperative Extension and be part of this collaborative group,” Tian said. “I look forward to working with local growers and industry to improve management practices in the vineyard and increase the profit margin of table grape production.”

Tian earned a master’s degree at California State University, Fresno, and a bachelor’s degree at Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University, China, both in viticulture and enology. For several years she worked in industry, including an internship at E. & J. Gallo Winery in Modesto and as the assistant vineyard manager at Berryessa Gap Vineyard in Winters.

Tian’s doctoral research focused on development of better guidelines for vineyard nitrogen management for growers in the Willamette Valley. She and the research team evaluated the influences of vineyard nitrogen on vine productivity, fruit composition and wine characteristics in chardonnay and pinot noir.

Tian can be reached at titian@ucanr.edu. Her Twitter handle is @TianUcce.

Laura Vollmer is the nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for the Bay Area

Laura Vollmer was named the nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor for the San Francisco Bay Area on Sept. 8, 2020. She is headquartered at the UC Elkus Ranch in Half Moon Bay, and her work will extend to San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties.

“As a multigenerational Bay Area resident (born and bred on the San Mateo County coast), it’s a dream come true to serve the community that raised me,” Vollmer said. “The Bay Area has long been a leader in child nutrition and I am particularly excited for the opportunity to help implement and evaluate innovative programs that support the well-being of children and communities.

Vollmer previously worked at the UC Nutrition Policy Institute, where she helped to coordinate the National Drinking Water Alliance, a national network of allies working to ensure that all children in the U.S. can drink water in the places where they live, learn and play. She also contributed to research on food security and the charitable food assistance system, and on the impact of community nutrition and physical activity on children’s health. Vollmer served as a grant writer and institutional giving associate for City Harvest, an anti-hunger nonprofit in New York City, for two years.

Vollmer earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Wesleyan University and earned a master’s degree in public health from UC Berkeley. She is a registered dietitian. She is a board chair of Oakland-based Youth Outside, which works to ensure equitable access to the outdoors. When she’s not at work, Vollmer enjoys swimming in the ocean, cooking and hiking.

Vollmer can be reached at (650) 276-7429, lvollmer@ucanr.edu.

Grace Woodmansee is the new livestock and natural resources advisor in Northern California

Grace Woodmansee joined UC Cooperative Extension in Siskiyou County as a livestock and natural resources advisor on Jan. 4, 2021. For the past four years, Woodmansee worked as a research assistant in the UC Rangelands lab at UC Davis to address management challenges on grazing lands.

“As an undergraduate research assistant at the Chico State Beef Unit, I discovered my passion for rangeland science and management a discipline that combines my interests in social, ecological and livestock production research,” said Woodmansee. “I am very excited to join the community of Siskiyou County and to work with ranchers and land managers to identify research priorities, develop projects and address challenges related to livestock production and natural resource management.”

Woodmansee has a bachelor’s degree from Chico State and completed a master’s degree in agronomy at UC Davis in November. She will be based in Yreka and can be reached at gwoodmansee@ucanr.edu.

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