Food and Agriculture Experts

UC Davis experts available for media on topics related to food and agriculture

The interdisciplinary nature of the University of California, Davis, yields a deep bench of food and agriculture experts who can discuss with reporters various aspects of issues connected to food and agriculture and the many facets of life it touches.

The following sources from the University of California, Davis, are available to talk with the media about food and agriculture issues.

Find experts by category in the lists below:

Agriculture and economic experts

Daniel A. Sumner is director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center and the Frank H. Buck
Distinguished Professor in the 
Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. He can discuss economic issues in food and agriculture, include those related to farm costs, policy, food and commodity markets, international trade, and sustainability. He works on such California farm products as almonds and other tree nuts, wine grapes, berries and other fruits, alfalfa hay, cotton, cannabis, beef, pork, eggs, and milk. Contact: 530-752-1668, dasumner@ucdavis.edu

J. Edward Taylor is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis. He can discuss the implications of a diminishing farm labor supply and what it means for the future of California and U.S. agriculture. Contact: jetaylor@ucdavis.edu

Michael Carter is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Director of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Markets, Risk and Resilience. He can speak on constraints to the adoption of improved agricultural technologies by small-scale farmers in Africa, agricultural insurance, and about forces that shape poverty and food insecurity in rural areas of Africa and Latin America. Contact: 530-752-4672, mrcarter@ucdavis.edu

 

Animal science experts

Ermias Kebreab is associate dean for global engagement in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the director of the World Food Center and chair of the Department of Animal Science. He can discuss strategies to reduce methane emissions from livestock production, including research involving seaweed’s potential to cut methane emissions in beef and dairy cattle. Contact: 530-752-5907, ekebreab@ucdavis.edu

Frank Mitloehner is a professor and air quality extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science. He is also director of the CLEAR Center. He can discuss efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the livestock sector and is an expert in benchmarking and mitigating air pollutants from animal agriculture.  Contact: 530-752-3936, fmmitloehner@ucdavis.edu

Cassandra Tucker is the director of the Center for Animal Welfare and a professor in the Department of Animal Science. Her area of expertise is animal welfare, particularly for dairy and beef cattle. She conducts research on housing and management of cattle and works with industry programs and nongovernmental agencies focused on animal welfare policy and assessment. Contact: 530-754-5750, cbtucker@ucdavis.edu

Alison Van Eenennaam is a cooperative extension specialist in animal biotechnology and genomics in the Department of Animal Science. She can discuss the use of DNA-based biotechnologies, such as genetic engineering and genome editing in beef cattle production. She is also a frequent keynote speaker on the importance of genetic innovation for animal health and welfare and agricultural sustainability. Contact: 530-752-1250, alvaneenennaam@ucdavis.edu

Richard Blatchford is an assistant extension specialist for small- to industry-scale poultry production in the Department of Animal Science. He can discuss the challenges facing small scale and backyard poultry flocks as well as the impacts of housing systems on poultry health and welfare in large-scale facilities. Contact: 530-752-8763, rablatchford@ucdavis.edu

Jackson Gross is a cooperative extension aquaculture specialist in the Department of Animal Science. He can discuss freshwater and marine aquaculture production systems and the effect of aquatic invasive species and environmental pollutants on farmed fish and shellfish. He can also discuss aquaponics and the repurposing of aquaculture waste streams. Contact: jagross@ucdavis.edu

Maurice Pitesky is a cooperative extension specialist with the School of Veterinary Medicine with a focus on poultry health and food-safety epidemiology. He can discuss strategies to reduce foodborne illness and strategies to reduce antimicrobial-resistant bacteria associated with poultry production. He also can discuss avian diseases and develops mapping and modeling to understand disease spread. Contact: 530-752-3215, mepitesky@ucdavis.edu

Plant science and biotechnology experts

Gail Taylor is a Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Plant Sciences. She is an expert in leafy green salad crops — breeding, genetics and genomics, biotechnology, food safety, and environmental sustainability. Her genomic research focuses on how plants and crops can adapt over multiple generations and long timescales to a future high-CO2 world. Contact: 530-752-9165, gtaylor@ucdavis.edu

Charlie Brummer is a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and director of the Plant Breeding Center and a team member of the Smart Farm Big Idea. He can discuss the necessity, difficulties and opportunities of breeding plants in a changing climate. He can discuss ways to improve crop yield from traditional breeding to the use of molecular markers. ecbrummer@ucdavis.edu

Pamela Ronald is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology and at the Genome Center. She’s founding director of the Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy. She can discuss genetic strategies to advance sustainable agriculture, including the development of flood-tolerant and disease-tolerant rice, a staple food for more than half the world’s population. Contact: 530-752-1654, pcronald@ucdavis.edu

Allen Van Deynze is director of the Seed Biotechnology Center and associate director of the Plant Breeding Center. He can discuss developing and integrating genomics into plant breeding of crops from California and Africa. His specific focus is on disease-resistance and quality in pepper and spinach. He has also been involved with international and national policy, including US regulations for biotechnology. He can also discuss sequencing the genome of Arabica beans and the threat climate change poses to coffee around the world. Contact: avandeynze@ucdavis.edu

Diane Beckles is an associate professor in the Department of Plant Sciences. She can discuss agricultural plant biotechnologies. She focuses on identifying genes that influence starch and sugar accumulation in crops, which is central to crop yield and quality after harvest. She also studies why some fruits, such as the tomato, are damaged from cold storage in hopes of preventing food waste. Contact: 530-754-4779, dmbeckles@ucdavis.edu

Neelima Sinha is a professor in the Department of Plant Biology. She can discuss plant genetics, strategies to improve productivity in tomatoes, methods for genome editing in crops and parasitic plant control strategies. Contact: 530-754-8441, nrsinha@ucdavis.edu

Siobhan Brady is a professor in the Department of Plant Biology and the Genome Center. She can discuss systems biology or genomics approaches related to plant breeding, especially from the perspective of the often-overlooked root systems. She performs research on plant roots in tomato, sorghum and the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana. Contact: 530-752-5183, sbrady@ucdavis.edu

Viticulture and enology experts

Andrew Waterhouse is a professor of enology and director of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. He is a wine chemist and can discuss general wine-related topics, as well as his research areas which include wine tannins (antioxidants), barrels, corks and other closures, wine aging, and the health effects of wine and other alcoholic beverages. As a chemist, he can also discuss the analysis of foods as well as some issues related to food components, such as carbohydrates and fats, and materials recovered from food waste. Contact: 530-752-4777, alwaterhouse@ucdavis.edu

S. Kaan Kurtural is a viticulture cooperative extension specialist. He can discuss how heat, drought and climate change could affect berry and wine composition. He also specializes in improving production efficiency in grape vineyards, including mechanization of pruning, canopy management and harvest. He can discuss irrigation applications in vineyards and alternative methods of controlling invasive species in vineyards. Contact: skkutural@ucdavis.edu

Anita Oberholster is a cooperative extension specialist in enology. She can discuss viticulture practices and environmental factors that affect grape ripening and composition and resulting wine quality. She is investigating the effect of wildfire smoke on grapes and its impact on wine composition and quality. She can also discuss practices that enhance sustainability in the industry, including the use of new technologies and “green” chemicals in the winery, and re-use of winery wastewater. Contact: aoberholster@ucdavis.edu

Beth Forrestel is an assistant professor of plant biology in the Department of Viticulture and Enology. She can discuss how climate change and associated extreme weather, including heat waves, fires and drought, impact grapevine health, as well as impacts on berry and wine chemistry. She also studies how diversifying the genetic resources used for grapevine breeding and cultivar selection can mitigate impacts of heat and water stress. She also does extensive work in the space of equity and inclusion in viticulture, wine and agriculture at large. Contact: ejforrestel@ucdavis.edu