IMMERSED IMMERSED AT CAL POLY’S SWANTON PACIFIC RANCH
• california’s food and Agriculture secretary visits • the college’s 2015 honored alumnus • preserving sliced fruits and vegetables • wine and viticulture’s new department head
FROM THE DEAN
WITH FALL’s arrival, CHANGE IS IN THE AIR CAFES Friends, Fall to me has always meant a time of new beginnings. Each September we have an infusion of energy as new students, faculty and staff join our campus community. The impact they have all had thus far is palpable: attendance at student club events is at an all-time high; new faculty and staff have brought an array of new ideas and perspectives; and we are working across disciplines and departments to identify new solutions and programs. We’re also welcoming new expertise to our College Advisory Council, comprised of industry experts from across all our disciplines. These leaders help ensure we are preparing students for meaningful careers and graduates with an understanding of the latest technologies. This fall, leadership of the council passed from Kirk Messick to Karen Watts. I’m truly grateful for the time and dedication Kirk has given to the college, and I am excited to have Karen carry on this mission. We’re making significant progress on developing desperately needed new facilities for the college. The designs for the Center for Wine and Viticulture are nearly complete, and we are in a similar process for our new Horticulture and Crop Science facilities. We’ll continue to share updates in future issues. Dean Andy Thulin (right) welcomes visitor Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Read more about Ramaswamy on page 7.
As you’ll read in our cover story, we’re also experiencing a rebirth at our Swanton Pacific Ranch in Santa Cruz County. Thanks to the generosity of Al Smith, Cal Poly has utilized the property for hands-on learning for the past two decades. And with the recent approval the Santa Cruz County Planning Commission, we’re now poised to expand these once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunities to even more students. We hope you’ll partner with us to make that dream a reality. Thank you for your continued support as we move our vision forward. I hope you enjoy a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. Warmest regards,
Andrew J. Thulin | Dean
ON THE COVER Alumnus Drew Perkins, who earned a master’s degree in forestry sciences, gauges stream flow at Swanton Pacific Ranch, Cal Poly’s living laboratory in Santa Cruz County. Read about the ranch; its generous donor, Al Smith; the real-world educational activities offered in its diverse Learn by Doing-rich program; and Cal Poly’s plans to expand it on pages 10-13. photo by russ white
AGRIVIEW • FALL 2 0 1 5
3 Alumni News CAFES 2015 Honored Alumnus Charlie Walton
10 Cover Story Cal Poly wants to grow Swanton Pacific Ranch, a living laboratory for students.
4 News & Notes College Leaders • Faculty News • By the Numbers • Events Calendar
8 Giving News The college welcomes generous gifts from retired Professor Paul Fountain and Bee Sweet Citrus’ Jim Marderosian.
Research Professor Wyatt Brown and team have developed a solution to preserve the freshness of sliced fruits and vegetables.
16 Student Success Wins for nutrition, floral design and logging prowess • Students attend leadership event.
charlie walton is the college’s 2015 honored alumnus CHARLIE WALTON (B.S., Ornamental Horticulture, 1966) was named the 2015 College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences Honored Alumnus. Walton was recognized at the annual Honored Alumni Banquet on Nov. 6 in Chumash Auditorium. Walton, who has served on the dean’s Advisory Committee for more than 15 years, is the past owner, president and chief executive officer of Smithers-Oasis Co., and today serves as a director. Smithers-Oasis Co. is an international producer and marketer of
ensure students have access to the
floral and horticultural products.
latest technologies, including new
The company is best known for its
greenhouses and equipment and
OASIS brand floral foam, which is now
products from Smithers-Oasis.
produced and distributed from more than 20 locations throughout the world. Walton and his wife, April, have
Walton often returns to campus to meet with faculty and students. “Charlie continues to give us
Charlie Walton (center) with Dean Andy Thulin and President Jeffrey D. Armstrong
industry, which in turn helps our students be better prepared to make a difference in their careers,” said Dean Andy Thulin. “He exemplifies a true
also donated funds and resources to
valuable insight into the horticulture
Learn by Doing philosophy.”
Dean’s Office 805-756-2161
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C AF E S. C A L POLY.EDU
NEWS & NOTES
DEC. 12, 2015 Fall Commencement JAN. 27, 2016 Cal Poly Wine and Viticulture Alumni and Friends Reception 6:15 to 8 p.m. Unified Wine and Grape Symposium Hyatt Regency Hotel, Vines Cafe Sacramento, Calif.
Nanine Van Draanen
Vital College Leaders
FEB. 9-11 World Ag Expo Alumni Reception, Tulare, Calif.
Trio STRENGTHENS people and program support
FEB. 27 Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration (RPTA) in the Spotlight: 40th Anniversary Celebration The Cliffs Resort, Pismo Beach, Calif. APRIL 15-16 Cal Poly Open House, Poly Royal Rodeo and CAFES Alumni Reception
This fall the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences transitioned to the associate dean model adopted by the other colleges at Cal Poly to ensure that three critical areas are supported: student success, faculty and staff support, and research and graduate programs. Richard Cavaletto continues in his leadership of undergraduate programs. Nanine Van Draanen is serving as interim associate dean, faculty affairs. She oversees faculty and staff affairs, including
onboarding of new faculty and staff and recruitment and mentoring. Chris Dicus is serving as interim associate dean, research and graduate programs. These programs were formerly led by Mark Shelton, who has returned to the Horticulture and Crop Science Department to teach. Dicus provides leadership for research coordination and funding, grant and research support, and graduate program recruitment and curriculum.
BY THE NUMBERS ... 23
NUMBER OF YEARS that Cal Poly has been named Best in the West public-master’s university by U.S. News and World Report.
NATIONAL RANKING of Cal Poly undergraduates in regard to median salaries among public university graduates, according to PayScale.com.
AGRIVIEW • FALL 2 0 1 5
4,583 1,955 3.87 NUMBER OF freshmen who applied to the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) for fall 2015.
NUMBER OF freshmen who were accepted by CAFES in fall 2015.
AVERAGE GPA of incoming freshmen in CAFES in fall 2015.
faculty notes schwab is named rising star BY national ASSOCIATION Keri Schwab, a professor in the Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration Department, was named one of five upand-coming professionals by the National Recreation and Park Association. Schwab’s key industry involvements and her thoughts on the future of the industry were highlighted in the 50th anniversary commemorative edition of Parks and Recreation Magazine, the association’s official publication. SCHROETER TO CHAIR ASSOCIATION’S FOOD SAFETY & NUTRITION SECTION Christiane Schroeter, associate professor in the Agribusiness Department, was elected chair of the Food Safety & Nutrition Section by the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association (AAEA). Schroeter launched her two-year term with a workshop on “Behavioral Economics and Obesity” at the recent AAEA annual meeting in San Francisco. HENDRICKS ELECTED FELLOW IN ACADEMY OF LEISURE SCIENCES Bill Hendricks, professor and head of the Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration Department, was elected to and inducted as a fellow in the Academy of Leisure Sciences in September at the National Recreation and Park Association Conference in Las Vegas. Four individuals were elected fellows out of 14 nominees from throughout North America.
ALS Fellow Bill Hendricks
Benoît Lecat comes to Cal Poly from Dijon, France.
Meet Benoit Lecat
Wine AND Viticulture’s new DEPARTMENT HEAD The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences has appointed a French educator with a strong background in wine business as head of the university’s Wine and Viticulture Department. Benoît Lecat hails from the Burgundy School of Business in Dijon, France. He will play an integral role in helping to raise additional funds needed for the university’s planned Center for Wine and Viticulture. With more than 300 students, Cal Poly’s Wine and Viticulture Department is the largest of its kind in the nation and the only program of its kind to offer an integrated education program focused in three concentration areas: enology, viticulture and wine business. The Center for Wine and Viticulture will include sensory, enology and viticulture teaching labs and a commercial-grade bonded winery that will allow students to gain a comprehensive understanding
of vineyards and grape cultivation, the winemaking process, and the business of wine marketing and distribution. “I am ecstatic to join Cal Poly’s Wine and Viticulture Department at this momentous time,” Lecat said. “In a very short time, it has become the nation’s top program, and we have strong plans in place to guarantee that our students continue to excel. I look forward to advancing this stellar program further.” Lecat earned his undergraduate degree in management and holds two master’s degrees in management and political science from the Catholic University of Mons (FUCAM) in Belgium. He earned a doctorate in management and marketing from the Louvain School of Management in Belgium. His research interests are wine pricing, tourism and branding, wine and spirits tourism, and the management of luxury goods.
C AF E S. C A L POLY.EDU
NEWS & NOTES
EXPANDING OUR FACULTY
WELCOMING NEW FACES AND TALENT
FEDERICO CASSASA Department: Wine and Viticulture
Areas of Specialty: Grape and wine chemistry and biochemistry, winemaking, wine sensory analysis
More than 25 new faculty members joined the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences in 2014-15. We are pleased to introduce a few of them in this and upcoming issues of our college newsletter.
Education: Ph.D. in food science, wine chemistry and sensory analysis, Washington State University Hometown: Mendoza, Argentina
What book are you currently reading? “Post-modern Winemaking: Rethinking the Modern Science of an Ancient Craft” by Robert Smith
JEAN CATHERINE DODSON PETERSON
Department: Wine and Viticulture
Education: Ph.D. in horticulture and
Education: Ph.D. in agricultural economics,
Area of Specialty: Viticulture
Area of Specialty: Food retailing
agronomy, UC Davis
Hometown: Beaver City, Neb.
Hometown: Stoneham, Mass.
“A Clash of Kings” by George R. R.
“Misbehaving” by Richard Thaler
What book are you currently reading?
What book are you currently reading?
COLE THOMPSON Department: Agribusiness
Department: Horticulture and Crop Science
Area of Specialty: Production,
Area of Specialty: Turf grass physiology,
cropping system economics,
sustainable agriculture, farm financial
Education: Ph.D. in horticulture, emphasis
on turf grass science, Kansas State
Education: Ph.D. in applied economics,
University of Minnesota
Hometown: Beloit, Kan.
What book are you currently reading? “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee
DAVID W. EVERETT Department: Animal Science
Area of Specialty: Dairy food chemistry Education: Ph.D. in food science,
RODRIGO MANJARIN Department: Animal Science
Area of Specialty: Non-ruminant nutrition Education: Ph.D. in animal science,
University of Wisconsin
Michigan State and Ph.D. in veterinary
Hometown: Newcastle, Australia
medicine, University of León, Spain
What book are you currently reading?
What book are you currently reading?
“The Son” by Jo Nesbø
Alaska fly fishing guide
AGRIVIEW • FALL 2 0 1 5
california department of food and Agriculture secretary emphasizes A need for young leaders in agriculture-related fields KAREN ROSS, SECRETARY of the
the nonprofit sector in the drive to
California Department of Food and
maintain and improve environmental
Agriculture, addressed a Cal Poly forum
stewardship and to develop adaptation
of more than 250 people in October, urg-
strategies for the specific impacts of
ing students to remain steadfast in their
pursuit of agriculture-related degrees. Ross addressed issues facing California
“The most important commodity of all is trust,” Ross said. “We need young
agriculture today, including climate
leaders like you to educate people
change, water, innovative technologies,
internationally about sustainability.”
healthy soils and sustainable farming.
It was Ross’ third visit to Cal Poly
The severe impacts of the state’s
this year in an effort to gather infor-
ongoing four-year drought were at the
mation from campus leaders on their
forefront of the discussion.
research and to share available state
“Out of struggle, leaders are born,”
Karen Ross (above) noted that environmental and technological changes are among the issues that drive the industry’s workforce needs.
“The most important commodity of all is trust. We need young leaders like you to educate people internationally about sustainability.” – Karen Ross
resources with the university. While on campus she spoke to
The forum came on the heels of
as it should be, on how we use water
faculty with specific expertise in areas
Ross’ recent visit to Cal Poly’s Swanton
and how precious it is. The quality and
of acute interest to her: hydrology
Pacific Ranch in Santa Cruz County,
scarcity of it is a global issue.”
and other water issues, sustainability,
where she was particularly interested
animal health, climate change, and
in the college’s integrated ecological
Ross said. “Today’s dialogue is focused,
Ross has strengthened partnerships across government, academia and
C AF E S. C A L POLY.EDU
Toasting A Supporter Retired Professor paul fountain DONATEs $250,000 to Wine and Viticulture DEPARTMENT
PAUL FOUNTAIN, A RETIRED
The gift will be used to replant and
Cal Poly viticulture and fruit science
rehabilitate six acres of the 12-acre
professor, donated $250,000 to the
vineyard and create an endowment
university’s Wine and Viticulture
that will pay for ongoing maintenance
Department so that it can replant its
costs of the teaching vineyard for years
distressed teaching vineyard and make
additional needed improvements. Fountain oversaw the first planting
“This gift allows us to enhance our curriculum, increase our Learn by
of a three-acre section of the campus
Doing student opportunities, and better
Trestle Vineyard 30 years ago. He has
prepare our graduates to make valuable
always been interested in the art of
contributions to the California wine
making good wine and the science
industry,” said Jean Dodson Peterson,
behind cultivating good wine grapes,
assistant professor of viticulture.
and teaching others how to do the same inspired his donation. “I remember back in those days
Severe disease and pest issues have impacted large portions of the existing vineyard, Peterson said. Those vines
how we had to beg for money from
have already been removed, and new
companies for things like irrigation
plantings are expected to take place over
parts and trellises,” Fountain said.
the next five years.
“The state budget pays for lectures
The new vineyard blocks will expose
in the classroom, but at Cal Poly, we
students to more than 100 different wine,
provide more than that.”
table grape and rootstock varieties — a significant increase from the 40 varieties at the former vineyard. In addition to the extensive demonstration plantings, the donation will also provide access to both research and rotational blocks in which students can design and execute research projects. “Paul’s gift will provide students with the most up-to-date teaching resources in the area and provide a lasting impact on our department and industry,” Peterson said.
Jean Dodson Peterson and CAFES Dean Andy Thulin celebrate the generosity of retired Professor Paul Fountain (center).
AGRIVIEW • FALL 2 0 1 5
Jim Marderosian of Bee Sweet Citrus
Sweet Support bee sweet CITRUS owner makes pledge to three departments JIM MARDEROSIAN OF BEE SWEET
Marderosian founded Bee Sweet
if you can’t run a computer, you can’t
Citrus in Flowler, Calif., knows firsthand
Citrus in 1987 as an independent
run the equipment,” said Marderosian.
the value of a Learn by Doing education.
packer and shipper of California
“College graduates have the skill set we
He and his wife, Michelle, recently
oranges. In the last 27 years, the
rely on, and over the years, I’ve favored
pledged to support future generations
company has expanded to become
Cal Poly graduates because of their
of Cal Poly students by donating more
an industry leader, shipping citrus
than $100,000 to three departments in
products, including Navel and
the College of Agriculture, Food and
Valencia oranges, lemons, grapefruit
make technical advancements to
and mandarins, throughout the U.S.
grow and modernize the business
• The BioResource and Agricultural
and remains focused on sustainability.
Engineering Department will acquire
The couple, who both took courses at
Bee Sweet Citrus continues to
In fact, in June, Marderosian announced
new robotics equipment for its
Cal Poly, has three sons and a daughter:
plans for the company to go solar at
Thomas, Marcus, Steven and Chelsey.
its packing facility to reduce its
The two youngest sons are studying
• The Wine and Viticulture
The company prides itself on taking
Department will continue its
agricultural systems management at
redevelopment project in the
Cal Poly. The oldest, an alumnus, runs
a hands-on approach to the growing,
the technical department for the family
packing, marketing and shipping aspects
business. Their daughter graduated from
of fruit — and attributes its success to it.
• The Horticulture and Crop Science Department will be able to buy a flatbed/field truck for use in picking and producing citrus on campus.
St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif. “When I started this company, nearly all the equipment was mechanical. Today,
For details on how you can make a difference, contact Russ Kabaker at email@example.com.
C AF E S. C A L POLY.EDU
LEARNING GROUNDS cal poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch bustles with students eagerly engaged in diverse learn by doing activities
AGRIVIEW • SP RING 2 0 1 5
THE IDYLLIC COASTAL SETTING
Tree Registry. “It is also home to several
along California’s scenic Highway 1
national champion trees that are bigger
in Santa Cruz County leads to one of
than any other of their species.”
Cal Poly’s greatest assets: the 3,800-acre Swanton Pacific Ranch. The property, an ecologically diverse living laboratory, is used by hundreds
Ritter takes students in several classes to the ranch each year and guides graduate-level research there.
of Cal Poly students annually through
our university because of what it is and
internships, courses, field trips and
what it offers our students,” Ritter said.
research. The College of Agriculture,
“It’s a great asset that many universities
Food and Environmental Sciences man-
would love to have.”
ages the ranch, which is located 15 miles
Internships are available in the
northwest of Santa Cruz, three miles
management of watershed, livestock,
north of the quaint town of Davenport.
crops and forestry. Students are also able
A bold initiative to expand the
to work directly with Jacob’s Farm del
ranch’s accessibility to more students
Cabo, a certified organic farm that leases
cropland from Swanton Pacific Ranch to
Educational opportunities available at the ranch extend beyond the
grow a variety of culinary herbs. Each year more than 50 students from
traditional classroom and offer hands-
across all disciplines apply for about a
on lessons in sustainable agriculture,
dozen internships, said Brian Dietterick,
timber harvesting, natural resource
management, and riparian protection. In all, there are more than 100 acres
The demand has spurred long-desired plans to expand. Fundraising is now
of cropland, 1,435 acres of redwood
underway to build an educational learning
and Douglas fir trees, and 1,500 acres
center and field camp that will accommo-
date nearly all the students who apply.
richly diverse field studies
dents here,” said Dietterick. “So how do
Swanton Pacific provides an abun-
we best accomplish that while balancing
dance of Learn by Doing opportunities for students in dynamic and diverse
“We know we want to get more stu-
our staffing resources and facilities?” Dietterick and his staff succeeded
physical and biological conditions.
in getting the new learning facilities
In California, Swanton Pacific is
approved by the Santa Cruz County
known as an ecological hotspot because
Planning Commission. Now the team is
of the biodiversity of its lands, including
preparing for the next task — to raise the
more than 600 native plant species —
$10 million needed to make it a reality.
many of them rare and endangered —
Courses at Swanton Pacific are
representing 12 percent of all plant
primarily offered to Cal Poly students;
species found in the state.
however, partnerships with other
“There is an amazing level of
photo (above and opposite) by Chris Leschinski
“Swanton is a very important asset to
universities and the community allow for
diversity over a very small space,” said
additional educational opportunities such
Matt Ritter, Cal Poly botany professor
as field trips, workshops and seminars.
and coordinator of the California Big
Campuswide curriculum and research
photo by russ white
The ranch is a living laboratory, offering hands-on lessons in sustainable agriculture, timber harvesting, natural resource management, and riparian protection.
partnering with USDA forest service Cal Poly and the USDA Forest Service recently signed an agreement to include Swanton Pacific Ranch in the federal Experimental Forests and Ranges program. The fiveyear agreement between Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station will facilitate an increase in research projects, aimed largely at monitoring and attempting to predict the effects of climate change on the nations farm, range and forest lands.
C AF E S. C A L P OLY.EDU 11
options are aplenty: agri-tourism, environmentally conscious architectural design and construction, sustainable uses
The ecologically diverse land provides a rich learning environment for a wide variety of courses, field trips and interniships. photos by russ white
of the land, nutrition and food science, crops, livestock, range management, environmental conservation and ecology studies are just some. Three holistic management apprenticeships have also been added in crops
more than double the available research and laboratory space. The approval paves the way for
and livestock, allowing recent graduates
the long-envisioned Swanton Pacific
to get up to three years of extended work
Educational Center and Field Camp, 12
experience on the land. One additional
student cabins totaling 3,840 square feet,
position in forestry and watershed man-
an uncovered amphitheater, two staff
agement is also in the works.
duplexes, and a laundry and break room.
growing the program Hints of the property’s history are visible in its aging buildings. However, the surrounding lands remain pristine
In addition, improvements to existing facilities will result in a large classroom and a dining hall complete with a commercial kitchen. Ultimately, the new educational
following years of sustainable
facility will allow for additional courses
management overseen by a small staff
to be taught during summer quarter,
and large group of students.
including expanding existing courses
After nearly two decades of effort,
in sustainable forestry, wildlife ecology,
plans to transform Swanton Pacific into
and sustainable rangeland management.
a state-of-the-art educational hub for
New courses will be introduced as well,
Cal Poly students were approved by the
addressing topics such as hydrogeology,
Santa Cruz County Planning Commission
sustainability, and a proposed collabor-
in March. The project will enable the
ative food systems course offered by
program to quadruple the number of
Cal Poly’s Center for Sustainability and
students offered internships, expanding
UC Santa Cruz.
its capacity to accommodate up to 48
The catch? The planning approval
additional students. The improvements
stipulates that the college has three years
will also allow for more long-term
to begin construction.
graduate research opportunities and will
AGRIVIEW • FALL 2 0 1 5
“The time is now,” said Dietterick.
interns find learn by doing experiences abundant at the ranch TYLER DAVIS, 21, of Sacramento, Calif., is an environmental management and protection major whose career goal is to work on fishery restorations. “This internship epitomized the Learn by Doing philosophy,” said Davis. “For the summer I had the chance to be fully immersed in my field of study. The most valuable lesson I learned was understanding interconnectedness of all the ranch’s operations and environmental stewardship.”
CHELSEA GLASNOW, 21, of Santa Clarita, Calif., is a food science major studying culinary arts who wants to open a sustainable food restaurant. “I learned a lot about my capacity to make meals and stay on budget,” Glasnow said. “The most valuable lesson I learned here is to not limit yourself and to embrace all of the wonderful people around you and what they specialize in.”
JUSTIN TRABUE, 20, of Washington, D.C., is a wine and viticulture major whose career interest is in sustainable vineyards. “Swanton taught me how to work as an individual and with other people,” said Trabue. “At Swanton I learned that your ideas are not the only ones and that through other people’s experiences and knowledge you can better understand what you are learning to do.”
YANLEI WU, 24, from China, is an animal science senior whose career goal is to be a veterinarian. “The students and staff developed close relationships; you could really sense the synergy and feel how much everyone cared for each other. We became a family, basically. Everyone was so kind and so sincere.”
Al Smith’s Legacy AL SMITH, A CAL POLY ALUMNUS and credited founder of Orchard Supply Hardware, donated the Swanton Pacific Ranch to Cal Poly in 1993 with one simple request — that it be preserved as a working ranch and living laboratory dedicated to Learn by Doing educational opportunities and that the remaining large redwoods, including one tree known as General Smith, be left untouched. A railroad enthusiast, Smith also asked that the railroad he built on the property be maintained and available to the public. Today, it is preserved by the Swanton Pacific Railroad Society. Smith, who earned a bachelor’s degree in crop science and a master’s degree in agricultural education, fell in love with Swanton’s natural landscape when he camped there as a young Boy Scout. He made it his life’s mission to acquire as much of the surrounding land as he could. It took him nearly 40 years to acquire the ranch, which makes up much of the original Rancho Agua Puerca y las Trancas Mexican land grant. Smith valued the real-world educational experiences offered by Cal Poly and collaborated with the university as early as the mid-1980s. When he died in 1993, the framework for transforming Swanton Pacific Ranch into an educational facility was in place.
Al Smith at the ranch courtesy Cal Poly Corporation, Swanton Pacific Railroad Society Collection
Today Swanton Pacific Ranch is a model for the practice of informed land stewardship and sustainability. It is dedicated to providing students and faculty with unparalleled learning and research opportunities for understanding sustainable land management practices.
C AF E S. C A L P OLY.EDU 13
The BROWN Effect
because it’s UNSIGHTLY On sliced fruitS and
wyatt brown came up with a solution.
PROFESSOR WYATT BROWN and his team in the Horticulture and Crop
than 400 tests over four years to create
Science Department in the College of
the formula. Brown and laboratory
Agriculture, Food and Environmental
technician Jim Green tested more than 40
Sciences developed a cutting-edge for-
compounds on apple slices to determine
mula to prevent the premature browning
what worked and what didn’t.
of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables. What
Agricultural and environmental plant sciences major Nick Johnson works in the lab with the Cal Poly anti-browning formula.
dead ends,” said Brown. “For example,
that it also reduces the growth of aerobic
oxalic acid worked great, but the Federal
bacteria, yeasts and molds on these
Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t
products, making them safer to eat.
approve of its use on fresh-cut products.”
Cal Poly was granted a U.S. patent
Several students, excited by the
for the formula in June 2015 and is active-
prospect of the research, volunteered to
ly seeking licensees to commercialize
help in the lab. “This is real science, in
it. The university is in discussions with
real time,” Brown said. “This is not doing
several large companies interested in the
a project for the sake of doing a project.”
“We don’t want to sell its use to one
AGRIVIEW • FALL 2 0 1 5
“Part of the process was running into
makes this formula especially valuable is
formula, Brown said.
Brown and his team conducted more
Justin Borba, an agricultural and environmental plant sciences major who
single company,” Brown said. “We want
is considering a career in postharvest
this Cal Poly formula to be as widely
technology, worked in the lab during the
available as possible.”
Professor Wyatt Brown, conducting a lab class (above), has found students eager to participate in a real-world project.
“We wanted to make sure that what we used was safe,” Brown said.
WYATT BROWN is a
“Everything we used in the final formula
professor and assistant
has already been pre-approved as safe by the FDA.” “I was able to use observational
The anti-browning formula combines
analysis to see all the little details that
calcium ascorbate, calcium propionate
are largely unnoticed in grocery stores
and calcium chloride in precise ratios,
or restaurants,” said Borba. “Learning
and the ratios are product-dependent.
the basics of lab work and assisting with research was an awesome opportunity.”
When applied to pre-cut Granny Smith and Fuji apples, the formula
Brown was careful to avoid using
prevented browning and the growth
compounds that could cause an allergic
of aerobic bacteria, yeasts and molds
reaction, such as sulfur. After years of
for at least 21 days. It has also proven
laboratory work, the solution was found,
to be highly effective at preventing the
extending the shelf life of certain pre-cut
browning of other sliced fruits and such
foods by up to two weeks longer than
the current anti-browning formula on
“We believe the formula will enable
department head in Cal Poly’s Horticulture and Crop Science Department, where he has taught for 25 years. He teaches Postharvest Technology of Horticulture Crops, Introduction to Vegetable Science, and California Vegetable Production. His research centers on pre-cut fruits and vegetables, plastics and modifiedatmosphere packaging. Brown was named the 2013-14 Outstanding Faculty Researcher by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and is a 2014-15 University Distinguished Scholar.
the market. In addition, the formula
products to be marketed for a longer peri-
He is the faculty advisor for Cal Poly’s
is effective under ambient conditions;
od of time and help reduce the incidence
anime club, Minna no Anime.
special packaging is not required.
of food-borne illness,” Brown said.
C AF E S. C A L P OLY.EDU 15
conference ENCOURAGES AG STUDENT LEADERSHIP
Cal Poly students at the annual Agriculture Future of America’s (AFA) Conference (below).
Fourteen students represented Cal Poly at Agriculture Future of America’s (AFA) Annual Leaders Conference in Kansas City, Mo., in November. Students were selected to participate based on their leadership on campus and their passion for agriculture. Funds from the college’s Learn by Doing Endowment made the trip possible.
AFA’s vision is to create partnerships that identify, encourage and support outstanding college men and women pursuing careers in agriculture. More than 630 students attended the event, representing 43 states and more than 200 universities. “AFA has shaped me into a bold and confident leader as I grow into my professional career,” said Christine Curtis, a sophomore studying agricultural business and a campus ambassador to the AFA program. “I can say wholeheartedly that I have never been involved in such a caring organization that wants to aid motivated students in becoming huge influencers of the future of agriculture.” Students participated in a multiday program that included personal and industry development and topics such as strengthening communication skills, influencing change, and lifelong learning. “My hope is that California gets more involved in this organization and that more Cal Poly students make a national impact on the industry because of their training and involvement in AFA,” said Curtis.
Food Science and Nutrition teams Win nationally for healthy snack, cereal A team of students from the Food Science and Nutrition Department won the grand prize in the Disney Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Student Association Product Development Competition, held during IFT’s 2015 Annual Meeting and Food Expo, July 11-14 in Chicago. The students were tasked with creating a market-relevant, nutritious snack for children ages 10 and younger that met the standards of the Disney Nutritional Guidelines and incorporated at least half a serving of a fruit, a vegetable, a low-fat dairy product or whole grains. Cal Poly’s team, which included food science majors Michelle Reimer of Bakersfield, Vidita Deshpande of Santa
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Barbara, Franca Rossi of Salinas, and May Cheng of Dublin, Calif., created their Build a Snowman Kit snack based on the Disney character, Olaf, from the movie “Frozen.” The kit consists of two wholewheat Olaf shaped crackers, a fruit-andvegetable spread, and dried cranberries as a topping. The Cal Poly team competed against teams from Rutgers University, the University of Georgia, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Virginia Tech. A second Cal Poly team, which included food science majors Lily Bowman of Oakland, Heather McCain of Canyon Country, Katherine Lanfranki of Walnut Creek, Bouchra Nafi of Ventura
and Nicole Neumayr of Westminster, Colo., earned honorable mention for a product they developed in the Mars IFT Student Association Product Development Competition. Rise, a cinnamon- and agave-flavored vegetable breakfast cereal, was created to kick-start Americans’ vegetable intake first thing in the morning. The Cal Poly Mars team competed against students from Cornell University, McGill University, Pennsylvania State University, Michigan State University, and the University of Wisconsin. The two Cal Poly teams were the only ones with all undergraduate students that advanced to the finals.
logging team snags top honors at cal conclave The Cal Poly Loggers, an intercollegiate team of male and female students involved in traditional forestry field skills, won first place at an annual collegiate logging competition in October. The team hosted the all-day Cal Conclave at Cal Poly and competed in events including chopping, chain sawing, dendrology, axe throwing, pole climbing and more. Teams from Northern Arizona University and UC Berkeley also competed.
Cal Poly competitors took first place in more than a dozen individual events, including men and women’s pole climb, horizontal speed chop, vertical hard hit chop and power saw.
Cal Poly senior Brady Dubois (right), a forestry and natural resources major from Pine Grove, Calif., competes for a first-place win during the power saw competition.
Cal Poly’s Floral Design Team
Floral Design Team members all in top 10 All seven members of the Cal Poly Floral Design Team placed in the Top 10 at the California State Floral Association’s annual competition. Cal Poly junior Sara Do, an agricultural and environmental plant sciences major from San Gabriel, Calif., won first place. Other winners include four more agricultural and environmental plant sciences majors — senior Anna Thengvall from Merced, Calif., who placed fifth; senior Robin Somogyi, from Tracy, Calif., who placed sixth; senior Kristen Cotter from Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., who placed seventh; and junior Dawn Mones, from Kapaa, Hawaii, who placed ninth. Animal science junior Mekayla Karsten from Hanford, Calif., placed eighth, and agricultural science senior Kirsten Smith from Los Osos, Calif., placed 10th. In addition to the competition, the annual two-day event included hands-on design classes by some of the state’s top floral designers. This year’s theme was Calif Flora: Field to Vase — California Grown. “I could not be more proud of our team’s accomplishments,” said Melinda Lynch, horticulture and crop science lecturer and the team’s advisor.
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Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, was the guest speaker at Cal Poly’s Center for Sustainability fundraiser dinner, A Taste of the Future, in July. The event, a celebration of Central Coast food and farming, featured regional and Cal Poly sustainably raised foods and wine. Robb was interviewed by center Director Hunter Francis (right). Robb joined Whole Foods Market in 1991, becoming president of the company’s Northern Pacific region, which grew from two to 17 stores in eight years. In 2010 he was named co-CEO along with John Mackey. Robb is on the board of regents for the University of the Pacific and serves on the board of directors for both the Whole Planet Foundation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association. He was impressed with the Cal Poly Learn by Doing mission, and is scheduling a return visit to become more involved.
Talking Sustainability with whole foods’ co-ceo walter robb
Published on Dec 15, 2015
The quarterly newsletter of the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences, a globally recognized center of excellence i...