Jan Mickler has been appointed the vegetable crops farm advisor for University of California Cooperative Extension in Stanislaus County.

A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Mickler began her education at Auburn University in Auburn, Ala., where she earned a bachelor's degree in microbiology and a master's degree in plant pathology.

In 1994 Mickler came to UC Riverside to pursue a doctorate degree. Her first two years were spent with plant pathologist Michael Coffey studying late blight of potato and tomato. She then served as a graduate research assistant to plant pathologist James Adaskaveg.

Mickler's doctoral thesis, completed in 2002, centered on the management of citrus fibrous root rot.

Soil-borne diseases will be high on Mickler's agenda as she begins working with farmers who produce more than 30 types of vegetable crops on 70,000 acres in Stanislaus County. Many of those farmers have for years depended on methyl bromide treatments to reduce soil pathogens. However, the fumigant is being phased out and will be banned for most uses in 2005.

“Some scientists are looking at methyl iodide as an alternative,” Mickler said. “I'm interested in conducting trials in Stanislaus County to test its safety and efficacy.”

Mickler also will be working with limited-resource farmers in Stanislaus County.

“Many of the limited-resource farmers are growing crops organically,” Mickler said. “They don't get the yields that conventional growers do without using pesticides. I'm interested in helping them increase production on a limited amount of land.”

Mickler can be reached at her Modesto office, 3800 Cornucopia Way, #A, (209) 525-6800, jmickler@ucdavis.edu.