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Drought and herbicides: Rice Field Day showcases research

New varieties of rice that offer more effective weed control with less herbicide were showcased by UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences researchers at the recent Rice Field Day north of Yuba City in California's Central Valley. Amid the West’s ongoing drought, green rice with heads full of grain stood tall and lush in some test plots, while dry, brown stubble poked up in others. Department researchers discussed the impact of letting ricelands go fallow, including potential for pest control and ways to conserve soil moisture.

Ivan Buddenhagen, specialist in international ag development, dies

Ivan William Buddenhagen was born in Ventura, Calif., in 1930 to Harold J. Buddenhagen, a petroleum geologist, and Pearl M. Buddenhagen, a teacher and homemaker. He died at his Davis, Calif., home on July 9, 2022. He would have approved of his simple coffin, crafted of pine that had been felled by drought and beetles, and adorned with messages and drawings from his beloved family.  A sprawling bouquet of his favorite plants, including banana, served as a botanical mantle atop his coffin.

Gilbert honored for graduate advising

Matthew E. Gilbert has been honored with a Program Advising and Mentoring Award by UC Davis Graduate Studies for 2022. Gilbert is an associate professor and vice chair of crops and ecosystems in the Department of Plant Sciences.

“Student well-being, both academically and mentally, is so important, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Gilbert. “For that reason, I became chair of the Graduate Student and Post-doctoral Welfare Committee, which is a sub-committee of Graduate Council.

Vertical farming benefits, concerns explored by The Guardian

You may already be eating leafy greens that grow without soil, sunlight or ever being touched by human hands. Vertical farming has gained interest from growers and major investors around the world as a way to provide nourishing food, especially in urban areas. Gail Taylor, a vertical agriculture researcher and chair of the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, offered this perspective in an article recently published in The Guardian:

Ferguson honored for service to Horticultural Society

Louise Ferguson has been recognized by the American Society of Horticultural Science for her leadership and contributions. The professor of UC Cooperative Extension assumed the presidency during the COVID-19 pandemic, and she nurtured the organization through its first all-virtual annual conference, a subsequent hybrid conference and back to a fully in-person conference.

Poudel named to Future Leaders Forum

Master’s student Isha Poudel wants to bring agricultural technology to rural communities while empowering women farmers in her homeland of Nepal. Poudel is among 12 young scientists who will get help with her career goals after being named to this year’s Future Leaders Forum by the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development.

Parker’s proposal: More beans with less water

Boutique chefs will be pleased.

Organic legumes already developed by postdoctoral researcher Travis Parker are prized, especially in Southwest cuisine, for their colorful patterns, flavor and texture. Parker’s new work seeks even better, more beautiful beans for arid climes. The Department of Plant Sciences geneticist has received a boost for his work with a $20,000 grant, funded jointly by the Organic Farming Research Foundation and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.

Blumwald Lab discovery could reduce pollution, save billions

Researchers in the Department of Plant Sciences have found a way to reduce the amount of nitrogen fertilizers needed to grow cereal crops such as rice. The discovery could save farmers in the United States billions of dollars annually in fertilizer costs while also benefiting the environment.

The research comes out of the lab of Eduardo Blumwald, a distinguished professor of plant sciences, who has found a new pathway for cereals to capture the nitrogen they need to grow.

Kassama, Student & Macconnell grow their professional skills

This fall, three graduate students from the Department of Plant Sciences will start cultivating their confidence and growing the soft skills needed to bear their best fruit as professionals. Joseph “Zeke” Student, Madeleine Macconnell and Sire Kassama will work with professional leadership and business coaches, nourishing their ability to lead, collaborate and communicate, through the Launching Tomorrow’s Leaders program.

Monroe, Quiroz seek way to speed genome research

Scientists Grey Monroe and Daniela Quiroz are trying to develop a technique that could speed research on processes affecting countless facets of biology – from how plants respond to stressful conditions to the changes that trigger cells’ cancerous growth. They just won a $50,000 boost for their work, with a grant from the UC Davis Science Translation and Innovative Research (STAIR™) program.