Two faculty and two students from the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CA&ES) will speak about the college's impact on California's Central Valley during a public presentation from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Parlier. 

The topics of the presentations were featured in the fall issue of the quarterly magazine CA&ES Outlook, which focused on "The Strength of the Central Valley."

The event is free and includes lunch. Register online by Nov. 1 on the Outlook Speaker Series website. (The registration link is on the right side of the page, below the image of the magazine.)

The meeting location is at 9240 S. Riverbend Ave., Parlier.

The faculty presentations are:

Protecting California's Groundwater, by Thomas Harter, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources.
 Harter is a leading expert on California groundwater who has studied contamination problems and helped agricultural producers improve management practices. (Harter's website)

A hydrogeology specialist, Harter was one of the lead scientists in a recent study of nitrates in the southern San Joaquin Valley and in the Salinas Valley. Findings from the 18-month investigation were published earlier this year in a report, Addressing Nitrate in California's Drinking Water. The people most affected by the nitrate problem live in small communities or rely on private domestic wells.

"We found that there are large areas on the east side of the Tulare Lake Basin and in the Salinas Valley that have elevated levels of nitrate that exceed the drinking water limit,” Harter said.

Harter also runs the UCCE Groundwater Hydrology Program, begun at UC Davis in 1995. In his outreach efforts, he has worked with dairy producers throughout the San Joaquin Valley to improve manure management practices that maintain crop productivity while minimizing nitrogen and salt losses to groundwater.

Dairy Industry Innovation, by Daniela Barile, professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology

Barile hopes to turn research findings into a new source of income for the California dairy industry. She has discovered the presence of certain molecules in cow's milk — complex sugars called oligosaccharides — that could be developed into food supplements of promising benefit to human health, especially for infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. (Barile's website)

The food scientist has identified more than 60 of these valuable molecules in whey permeate, a byproduct of cheese making. Whey processors send thousands of pounds of valuable oligosaccharides down the drain each day.

"We want to solve the problem of the accumulation of byproducts and improve the sustainability of the dairy industry,” said Barile. "At the same time, we can solve important problems relevant to human health.”

Student presentations will be made by:

UC Davis senior Megan Reese is a plant sciences major from Clovis. Reese has been involved in research internships in production agriculture throughout her college career.

For two summers, she participated in grape research at the USDA San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center in Parlier. Last summer, Reese worked with a corn breeder at the Woodland Research Center of Dupont Pioneer.

Reese is an outstanding scholar, an equestrian, and the former president of the UC Davis women's club water polo team that won the national championship in 2012. She will complete her B.S. in June 2013 and intends to continue graduate studies in plant sciences at UC Davis.

UC Davis junior Jacob Gomez is an animal science major originally from Tulare. As a Gates Millennium Scholar, Gomez was one of 1,000 high school students selected nationwide to receive a full scholarship at the university of his choosing. Gomez passed up Cornell and UCLA to become an Aggie.

Gomez interned for the past three summers at the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center (VMTRC) in Tulare. He ultimately intends to become a large animal veterinarian and return to work in the San Joaquin Valley.

This year, Gomez is president of the UC Davis Aggie Ambassadors, a leadership group that travels widely to promote the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UC Davis at schools and workshops.