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A THIRST FOR GOOD Students Design and Fabricate a Water Drill to be Used in Developing Countries Page 6



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Our students are Ready Day One. That’s because they are immersed in hands-on doing from day one. Our Learn by Doing focus ensures students gain the critical-thinking skills they need to go out into the world and make a difference. In this issue, you’ll read several stories about one of the unique ways students are learning – working side-byside with faculty on applied research projects to solve real-world problems. Applied research is critical to Cal Poly’s mission as well as the economic and social development of society. These undergraduate research opportunities create learning environments that foster creativity, produce strong analytical and leadership skills, and give students invaluable practical experiences and essential skills for the future, ultimately creating productive and influential members of society. We are able to offer these research opportunities thanks to our partnership with industry and private donors. Philanthropic support is invaluable in helping us to realize the true potential of what we can provide students to guarantee their readiness upon graduation. This Power of Doing sets the course for the future.

Warmest regards,






Cover Story A THIRST FOR GOOD ————


Q&A ————




THEN & NOW ————



CULTIVATE is published for alumni and friends by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES). Dean’s Office 805-756-2161 Communications Team Haley Marconett 805-756-2933 AnnMarie Cornejo 805-756-2427

Publication Designer IE Design + Communications, Hermosa Beach, California Printer Lithographix, Los Angeles, California Staff Photographer Sara Theodozio, Agribusiness student Cover Photo by Felipe Vallejo

Andrew J. Thulin | Dean


Stay connected on:


Performance Horse Sale The 2019 Cal Poly Performance Horse Sale held May 31 to June 1 was the most profitable sale in the event's history, with all proceeds benefiting the operation of the Oppenheimer Family Equine Center. Students enrolled in the Quarter Horse Enterprise organize the horse sale and train the university owned colts and fillies that are auctioned at the fundraiser. Twenty-five students of varying majors participated in the enterprise program, with Haley Teets (Animal Science, ’19) and sophomore agricultural systems management major Teresa Job serving as co-managers, under the guidance of enterprise instructor Lou Moore-Jacobsen. Cal Poly alumnus Jim Glines served as the auctioneer for the third year. Students hosted more than 300 guests and offered an educational demonstration on horse training. In all, 24 horses were sold, earning more than $200,000. A silent auction, sponsorships and donations also brought an additional $38,000 to the program. “I really came to appreciate how much work is put in to training these young horses,” senior animal science major Jeremy McNeel said. “It is also great meeting all of the buyers and people who were just generally interested in the sale. I made a lot of connections that I doubt I could make any other way. It was such an awesome experience that I definitely plan on doing it again.” The 2020 Cal Poly Performance Horse Sale will be held June 5-6.


Fall Commencement

JAN. 16-17

Ag Showcase

FEB. 4-6 Alumni and Friends Reception at Unified Wine and Grape Symposium FEB. 12 Alumni and Friends Reception at World Ag Expo FEB. 14-16

Western Bonanza

APRIL 16-18

Cal Poly Open House

APRIL 17-18

Poly Royal Rodeo





Coach of the Year

SmokeD Grand Gouda Wins Gold The Cal Poly Creamery earned two medals at the American Cheese Society competition in Richmond, Virginia in July. The student-produced Smoked Grand Gouda won a gold medal in the Smoked Cheeses category and the Grand Gouda a bronze medal in the Dutch-style Cheeses category. This builds on Cal Poly's strong performance in the U.S. Championship earlier in the year, where the Creamery earned a bronze medal for its Grand Gouda and placed fifth with its Smoked Grand Gouda. “We are very proud of our students and staff who helped achieve this milestone toward reinventing the products made at Cal Poly,” Creamery Operations Manager Tom Johnson said.

The first cohort of the Environmental Sciences and Management master’s degree program.

Cal Poly Rodeo Coach Ben Londo was named the 2019 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) Coach of the Year at College National Finals Rodeo in June. In addition, the Poly Royal Rodeo was named the Regional Rodeo of the Year. “It is truly an honor to be named national coach of the year,” said Londo, who was selected by his peers and the NIRA board. “It is a humbling experience, to say the least, as many other coaches are equally deserving. I am very thankful to be recognized.”

New Master’s Degree: Environmental Sciences and Management A new master’s degree is now being offered by the Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences Department to provide students with advanced skills in the management of the environment and natural resources including effective data analysis and research. Students can choose focused study within five emphasis areas, forest science, hydrology, soil science, environmental policy, and sustainability — to personalize their coursework to suit their professional goals. The culminating experience of the degree is a professional project that allows students to seek solutions to environmental challenges and develop leadership skills while preparing them for careers across the spectrum of natural resource management.


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BLENDING ART & SCIENCE Patricia (Williams) Sciacca (Wine and Viticulture, ‘18), a senior laboratory assistant at Artesa Winery in Napa, grew up among the vineyards on an estate that her grandparents owned on Atlas Peak. “My grandpa was an Italian immigrant, and while wine was a passion and side project while he ran other businesses, wine and viticulture were always a large part of my culture and heritage,” Sciacca said. “My family lost everything in the 2017 Atlas Peak fires: three homes, a wine cellar and a winery. The only building left standing on the property was a little chapel that my grandpa had built when I was younger. The chapel was untouched, free of any fire damage.” The loss didn’t dampen her dream of pursuing a career in enology — something she has always loved because of its blend of science and art.

I learned by doing things with my own hands, going through the motions, and then applying my education and experience to the task at hand. Patricia Sciacca

During her time at Cal Poly, Sciacca worked alongside Associate Professor Federico Casassa in the wine and viticulture research laboratory. Among other projects, she explored the effect of a winemaking technique called cofermentation on wine phenolics, which affect the taste, color and other sensory experiences of wine such as how it feels in your mouth when consumed. Sciacca and four other recent wine and viticulture alumni co-authored two articles with Casassa on the research they completed while students at Cal Poly. The articles were published in distinguished scientific journals. “I learned by doing things with my own hands, going through the motions, and then applying my education and experience to the task at hand,” Sciacca said. Sciacca’s research on the chemical and sensory effects of cofermentation began as a senior project by graduate student Paul Mawdsley who sought to better understand the impacts of fermenting two different grape varieties (a red and a white) in the same tank,

versus the typical method of blending them together after fermentation. “The end goal is to supply the wine industry with formal and tangible data on current winemaking practices that are performed because they are tradition or established,” Casassa said. “We don’t know the impact of those practices until they are tested under a controlled environment.” Casassa also recently published an article in the Food Chemistry journal on a study done with two undergraduate co-authors that evaluated the results of leaving pomace (fermentation solids, such as skins and seeds) in contact with wine for longer periods of time and adding additional pomace post-fermentation in Pinot noir and Zinfandel varieties from the Central Coast. Nick Steele (Wine and Viticulture, ’19) helped with the analysis and is now working as a lab technician at Jonata Winery in Buellton, California. Robert Huff (Wine and Viticulture, ‘17) also assisted with the experimentation and analysis during the research project and now works at Kosta Browne Winery in Sonoma County. Involving undergraduates in applied research gives them additional tools that help them succeed upon graduation, Casassa said. “Their knowledge exceeds the industry expectations of what a standard [college] graduate might have,” he added. Sciacca agrees, “These skills directly translated to my work beyond Cal Poly. In both internships, and now at my full time position, winemaking, especially during harvest season, can be quite the balancing act. My time working in the research lab helped me to be not only a better student and grow my passion for analytical winemaking, but also to be a better professional.”




recharge with strawberries


Strawberries, a juicy and sweet go-to snack for many people, are packed with beneficial nutrients naturally found in fruits and vegetables. But are they also a useful tool to help prevent cardiovascular disease? A team of Cal Poly faculty and students in the Food Science and Nutrition Department are researching the impact strawberries may have on heart and gut health. Kari Pilolla, assistant professor of nutrition, is leading the team. A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and exercise physiologist, her research is focused on the role of nutrition and exercise in cardiometabolic health risk. “Our research is trying to connect what happens in the gut with heart health,” Pilolla said. “Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the risk for heart disease and other metabolic issues in high risk populations.” The California Strawberry Commission and the California State University Agricultural Research Institute donated more than $200,000 to conduct the research — providing more than 25 students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by working directly with participants, learning and applying relevant laboratory skills, and collecting and analyzing data. Mia Abram (Nutrition, ‘19), who is pursuing a master’s degree in nutrition, is interested in nutrigenomics — the study of how nutrition affects gene expression. Abram is working on two research projects focused on the beneficial effects of


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polyphenols (micronutrients found in plant-based foods such as strawberries) on cardiovascular health under Pilolla’s guidance. “There are so many people suffering from chronic health conditions that can potentially be alleviated with nutrition,” said Abram, who plans to pursue a career in public health. “We are essentially studying how the nutrients of a whole plant such as a strawberry can be beneficial to a person’s health — something I hope to do on a larger scale in the public health sector.” The ReCHARGE with Strawberries project seeks to understand the effect that eating strawberries may have on a postmenopausal woman’s cholesterol, triglycerides, glycemic control, blood pressure, and inflammation — all measures of cardiovascular health. “The study is focused on women because as women age and go through menopause they become more at risk for heart disease and diabetes,” Pilolla said. “The hormonal changes increase their risk and we want to reduce their chances of developing metabolic issues.” The 18-week study is ongoing, investigating the impact strawberries have

on the health of recruited participants by analyzing blood and stool samples. Cal Poly researchers, including Michael La Frano, assistant professor of nutrition, Jean Davidson, assistant professor of biology, and Hunter Glanz, assistant professor of statistics, are working in conjunction with Assistant Professor Taylor Bloedon at Humboldt State University to recruit participants from Fresno, Humboldt, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Tulare counties.

Ongoing Research Abram, along with senior nutrition major Karli McCarthy, also participated in the college’s 10-week Summer Undergraduate Research Program by examining the role of strawberries in improving nutrients that are commonly deficient in the diets of overweight, postmenopausal women. “I involve students in every aspect of this project so that they can gain experiences from concept-to-completion and from bench-to-bedside,” Pilolla said. “They are acquiring both hard and soft skills that will prepare them to become the next generation of scientists and health care professionals.”

Karli McCarthy, senior nutrition student, providing instructions for collecting samples to be used for gut microbiome analysis.


Seeking Participants Cal Poly faculty and student researchers from the Food Science and Nutrition Department are looking for additional postmenopausal women to participate in the ReCHARGE with Strawberries project, a research project looking at the impact of strawberries on heart and gut health. Women who participant will be eligible to receive $350, free gut microbiome and heart health assessments, and a free diet consultation driven by participant goals.

If you, or someone you know, may be interested in participating, you can get more information at recharge-links, or by emailing

third annual STRAWBERRY CENTER Field day More than 260 people attended the Cal Poly Strawberry Center's third annual Field Day event on July 18 to learn more about the latest research and automation activities taking place at the Strawberry Center. Cal Poly students and staff discussed nine experiments focused on disease and pest management techniques and offered demonstrations on current automation projects for strawberry production. Thirty sponsors supported the field day activities. The center offers student work experience and internships, with as many as 20 students working on various projects at any given time. To learn more, visit




All you have to do is


go where people are


impoverished and see the struggles of the people who are living there to know

A team of students from the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department devoted their senior project to designing and building a drill that will be used to access water in remote and underdeveloped regions throughout the world.

that something has to be done. Matthew Talbert

The students spent more than 829 hours over three quarters designing and fabricating the water well drill, making improvements to an existing model that will enable it to be readily used in drought-stricken areas that lack the resources to implement existing water drilling methods. Soon the drill will be manufactured by Aquafor, a humanitarian group founded by entrepreneur Matthew Talbert, who studied business administration at Cal Poly in 1977. Talbert provided the seven-member student team with an existing prototype and the $25,000 needed for materials to build a new and improved model. “All you have to do is go where people are impoverished and see the struggles of the people who are living there to know that something has to be done,” Talbert said. “People are walking miles and miles for filthy water and that is


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unacceptable. We have it so fortunate here, it is imperative that we give back.” The Borelite Drill is a lightweight cable tool water well drill that uses a repetitive motion to smash and chip away at soil and rock. While existing drills use exorbitant amounts of water and fuel to drill quickly, the student-built drill relies on a 10-horsepower engine and only 10 gallons of water per day to drill. “The drill will take longer to reach the needed depth to acquire water, but in the impoverished areas that these drills will be used, people have time, but they don’t have resources such as gas and water,” said Peter Livingston, head of the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department. Students designed and built the drill, as well as provided the design drawings needed to replicate it. The weight and size of the final design allow for two fully constructed drills to be placed in a shipping container and sent overseas to countries in need. “This is designed specifically to be able to


Student Summer Research In its third year, the college’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) has grown to include more than 100 students researching topics across many disciplines in the college’s nine departments. Aimed at undergraduate students with strong academic potential and an interest in research, it was launched in the summer of 2016 as a way to give students the opportunity to have an immersive, hands-on research experience during the summer. Students spend 10 weeks working directly with faculty on collaborative research projects and receive a $2,500 stipend for their work. The program expanded last summer at Cal Poly to include eight community college students, four from Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria and four from Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, who joined the program for the first time.

function in some pretty harsh environments,” said Anthony Archuleta, Aquafor’s director of corporate responsibility. “There is nothing proprietary about it; the parts are available in most countries. Our goal is to use our expertise acquired in other corporate ventures to get the drill into the places it is needed using the relationships we have forged and be able to save lives.” Talbert acquired the original concept for the drill in the early 2000s from a service organization in San Luis Obispo, which had worked with students in Cal Poly’s Mechanical Engineering Department. However, years of delays prevented the concept from being fully realized. The time has finally come, said Talbert, who hopes to have the water drill produced and available next year. He envisions deploying it to areas in Central Asia, South America and Africa. “The value of a project of this caliber is that it helps students realize the benefit of what they are doing for society,” Livingston said. “We teach about ethics and world influences and it is important that students are exposed to something other than a commercial entity trying to build something to make a profit.”

“It is not only a great opportunity for our faculty to have these community college students’ skills to assist with research, but we are also hopeful that involvement in the program will inspire these students to want to attend Cal Poly in the future,” said Jim Prince, associate dean for research and graduate programs. Allan Hancock Regional Director for Agriculture, Water and Environmental Technology Holly Nolan Chavez said, “The goal of the program is to encourage student completion and transfer to four-year degree programs, and to expose students to proper research methods. Many of our students have had limited opportunities to experience post-secondary education at the upper-division level and can greatly benefit from this opportunity.” Hancock agriculture student Luis Valdez researched the economics of strawberry harvesting and spent his summer collecting data and traveling to farms. “You get the chance to really get out there in the field and get all of this great experience,” said Valdez, who hopes to transfer to Cal Poly to study agricultural business. “You are doing the same work as the undergrads and being held to those same standards. I’m really glad that Hancock gave me this opportunity, and that Cal Poly opened their arms to students like me.”

To help this growing program and allow more students to research complex issues in agriculture, food and technology. Food Science alumnus David Ames pledged $10,000 to support the program in July — kicking off the campaign. You too can provide unparalleled research opportunities for students.

To learn more about the Power of Doing Campaign and to make a donation, visit




Professor Brian Greenwood, who specializes in sports-based youth development in the Experience Industry Management Department, recently launched the “Experience Industry Management” podcast featuring alumni throughout the industry including a luxury suites and retention specialist for the San Francisco Giants and the senior program manager for global events at Uber. What inspired you to create the podcast?

A: The inspiration initially came

from my Intro to Sport Management class. We live and work in a relatively remote area when it comes to intercollegiate and professional sport organizations. Since we have great connections with alumni working in sport, I decided to do my own podcast featuring students who are not only alumni of our program but who also were alumni of that class. I received great feedback from the students, and when we launched our department name change, I felt the need was there to expand to a programwide podcast.

How do you select the industry professionals who you interview?


The experience industry is a new concept, so we wanted to be sure we were representative of both our roots in community parks and recreation and some of our newer ventures into the corporate experiential marketing space (and everything "in between" from sports to tourism and hospitality to special events).


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What has been the most rewarding part of this project for you?


It’s most definitely been connecting with people. I obviously love reconnecting with former students, which is enormously rewarding in hearing how their careers are going, but I’ve also talked to several alumni who I didn’t know beforehand and love making those connections as well.

What do you hope people will walk away with after listening to the podcast?

A: First, I think anyone can relate and gain an appreciation for both the breadth and depth of the experience industry through these podcast episodes, and second, we very much hope prospective and current students will make a connection that will hopefully help them to further see how they might find their niche in the experience industry.


How can people tune in?

A: The podcast is hosted on

Podbean at experienceourindustry. It is also accessible through Apple Podcasts and iTunes by searching and subscribing to “Experience Our Industry.”


Photo coutesy of David Brenner.

I got into this because of my love for


creating calming spaces that can lead

Alumnus creates vertical gardens blending art and horticulture

to an emotional transformation.

David Brenner (Environmental Horticulture Science, ’09), founding principal and lead designer of the San Franciscobased Habitat Horticulture, uses plants to breathe life into spaces often barren of natural splendor.

Brenner, who holds a minor in psychology. “I try to create places that allow you to stop and take a breath of fresh air for a second — in urban places you feel the transformation so much more.”

Considered a pioneer of vertical gardens, Brenner has done installations at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (the largest installation of its kind in the country), California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, Facebook, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and most recently at the top two floors of Salesforce Tower, the second tallest building on the West Coast at 61 stories in downtown San Francisco.

Brenner created a vertical garden for his senior project in the Horticulture and Crop Science Department’s main offices near the atrium, his first installation. Today, his work is an iteration of that first foray into vertical gardening, adapting over time to be more sustainable using a hydroponic system for plant longevity. Brenner’s installations are found not only in public places such as the Foundry Square, but within private residences, health care facilities and soon — Cal Poly.

It was tucked away in a small greenhouse off the beaten path during his time at Cal Poly that Brenner honed his passion. He first encountered vertical gardens during an internship at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, London, quickly becoming enamored with the way that they brought greenery into urban spaces. In the small, nondescript Cal Poly greenhouse he experimented with growing plants vertically, cultivating the foundation of the work he now does at Habitat Horticulture for clients all over the West Coast. “I got into this because of my love for creating calming spaces that can lead to an emotional transformation,” said

David Brenner

Brenner is in the process of creating two installations for his alma mater — a living wall for the new Vista Grande three-story dining complex anticipated to open in early 2020 and an installation for the Cal Poly Plant Conservatory. “It is all about creating an experience, what you can do with the plants and what is appropriate for the space ,” Brenner said. “All installations evoke a sense of place by incorporating the elements of the immediate surroundings. Every plant has its own character and we carefully choose them for each project to have the most impact.” CAFES.CALPOLY.EDU



Definition of success

• degree or measure of succeeding. • satisfactory completion of something. • the gaining of wealth, respect or fame. • a person or thing that succeeds.







1 First Place

2 Symposium


4 Scholarship

5 Floral Design

A team of four Cal Poly animal science majors took first place at the national American Society of Animal Science competition in Austin, Texas, in July. The team, consisting of Selby Boerman, Sarah Dreyer, Kaitlyn McFarlan, and Hannah Neer competed in four events, including a written exam, oral presentation, a practicum of eight labs, and a quiz bowl. The students, who advanced to the national competition after taking first place at the western regional competition April 5-6, competed against teams from Texas Tech, North Dakota State University and Penn State.

More than 40 students participated in the Spring Student Research Symposium. Sarah Dryer, animal science, won first place; Rebecca Bland, Olivia Chaffee, Sarah Mijalli and Amanda Drexler, food science, second place; and Anna Lamb, Cooper Ray and Manuel Ramos, nutrition, third place.

Agricultural science major Gissel Corcoles (left) and MANRS' Omar GonzalezBenitez, who is pursuing a master’s degree in plant science, were both elected to the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRS) national office. MANRS is a nonprofit organization that promotes academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in agriculture, natural resources and related sciences. Gonzalez-Benitez will serve as the graduate student vice president and Corcoles as the undergraduate student vice president. Cal Poly will host the MANRS regional conference Nov. 8-10.

Vegas Riffle (Agricultural and Environmental Plant Sciences, ’19), won the 2019 American Society of Enology and Viticulture Scholarship. She was recognized in June along with the other scholarship recipients at the American Society for Enology and Viticulture’s annual conference in Napa. Ripple is pursuing a master’s degree, studying the effect of vine age on performance of Zinfandel grapes and wines in the Edna Valley, California.

Cal Poly’s Floral Design Team took home three first-place awards at the American Institute of Floral Designers (AIFD) National Student Competition, held in Las Vegas in July. The team won first overall and first in the Flowers to Wear and Bridal Bouquet categories. The team also placed fifth in Sympathy Design and 10th in Interpretive Design. Competing team members were agricultural education senior Alyssa Snow, animal science junior Amber Buzzard, and recent graduate Megan Borzone (Horticulture and Crop Science, ’19). As a team, they placed first overall.

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The incoming class of 1,450 students seen here on Sept. 16, represents 43 states and two countries. Overall, 91 percent of the new enrollees are California residents, with the remaining 8.9 percent of students coming from areas as far away as Guam. The average high school GPA of incoming freshmen was 3.98.




Rooted in our History

Senior Projects: A capstone of the Cal Poly experience BY LAU RA S ORV E TT I | University Archives

Students and faculty in the field assessing site conditions and collecting soil samples, circa 1960s. University Archives, Cal Poly.

The senior project, the culminating capstone project for all Cal Poly undergraduates, has its historical roots firmly planted in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES). As early as 1925, students in Cal Poly’s agricultural programs participated in the “project system,” which provided them with practical management experience on the campus farm while earning money for school expenses. When the school administrators began offering four-year baccalaureate degrees in 1941, they made sure to incorporate the elements of the project system into the required curriculum, in the form of a 5,000-word “senior thesis.” By 1953 it was renamed to “senior project,” a more accurate term that focused on the nature of the assignment, heavily influenced by the agriculture program’s project-system philosophy as well as Learn by Doing. Today, more than 75 years later, the senior project remains a requirement for all undergraduates. In CAFES, the work students do in their senior projects often has a direct impact on the college and the university at large. Students have the unique opportunity to use Cal Poly’s agricultural


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facilities as their laboratory — from the orchards and fields to Poly Canyon, from the greenhouses to the poultry unit. Many senior projects lead to programs or products that are still flourishing today both on and off campus. •T  he 26 Hours of Science and Technology in Agriculture program, which brings high school students from low socioeconomic and minority areas to Cal Poly, originally was proposed as a senior project by Ruth Blakeslee (Agricultural Education) in 1988. • F ood science student Alex Pryor developed his company Guayakí Yerba Mate as a senior project • The Cal Poly Cat Program began in 1992 based on the proposal of Animal Science student Garret Quindimil’s senior project “Feral Cat Management Program.” The Robert E. Kennedy Library is the repository for senior projects, managing more than 85,000 senior projects in physical and digital form. Senior projects on Digital Commons have been downloaded more than 8 million times by researchers around the world.




Cal Poly’s JUSTIN and J. LOHR Center for Wine and Viticulture is just over one year from completion thanks to ongoing support from leaders in all regions of California’s wine and viticulture industry. In August, Department Head Benoît Lecat and lead project donor Jerry Lohr joined wine leaders in the Sonoma, California region to share the latest developments on the $20 million center, which is being funded solely by private donations. The event, attended by Sonoma-area leaders and businesses in support of the project, was held at Scribe Winery, owned by Cal Poly alumnus Andrew Mariani (Ornamental Horticulture, '78) and brother Adam Mariani. Sonoma-area support includes philanthropic gifts from Vino Farms, Gallo, and Plata Wine Partners, among others. “My experience at Cal Poly changed my life forever and has allowed me to live out my dream in the wine business,” said Dennis Stroud (Crop Science, '75), owner, Plata Wine Partners, who serves on the project’s fundraising committee and has also donated to the project. “I have two sons that have graduated from the department and are both very successful in the industry. Their experience, coupled with mine, created the desire to get heavily involved with the fundraising that will allow the program to surpass any other program of its type in the country.” In June, Napa-based Cooperages 1912, a four-generation company that crafts oak barrels, and the Boswell Family announced a $250,000 donation to the center, further showing the widespread industry support to Cal Poly. Construction of the JUSTIN and J. LOHR Center for Wine and Viticulture began in April 2019. It will include a state-of-the-art, 5,000-case bonded 15,600-square-foot winery which includes a fermentation hall, bottling room, barrel rooms and a research lab — all providing students with a learning environment similar to what they will experience in the wine industry. Both student and commercial wines will be produced here, as well as faculty and student research wines. In August concrete was poured for the foundation, setting the way for the steel framing. The last portion of the major structural steel on the winery building will be placed in early November. The facility will also include a 12,000-square-foot Grange Hall, which will include viticulture and enology labs, lecture/reception areas, and shared offices for faculty and students, as well as an industry and community events hall for academia, industry and the community to come together to learn, connect and celebrate. The winery is anticipated to open in fall 2020, followed by the Grange Hall soon after.




Distinguished Scholar Marni Goldenberg, professor in the Experience Industry Management Department, received the 2018-19 Distinguished Scholar award from the Cal Poly Academic Senate in September. In her 15 years at Cal Poly, Goldenberg has earned a reputation as a researcher. Over the years she has investigated outcomes and benefits associated with recreation participation in a variety of settings, from outdoor education and long-distance hiking trails to charity sporting events. “I have been very lucky to work on projects with incredible students and colleagues over the past 15 years,” she said. “This award goes to all the collaborations that I have had over the past years to create an amazing research agenda that has been impactful. Some of the most rewarding experiences for me include the excitement when students present or publish a paper, and they feel the pride and accomplishment of hard work and dedication.”

Cal Poly’s New Interim Provost has Roots in CAFES Mary Pedersen, former professor, department chair and associate dean in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Sciences, assumed the role of interim provost and executive vice president of academic affairs this summer. Pedersen succeeds Kathleen Enz Finken, who retired after serving as provost since 2012. Pedersen began her career at Cal Poly as an associate professor of nutrition, primarily teaching medical nutrition therapy. She later chaired the Food Science and Nutrition Department and led the department's first industry/professional advisory council and then served as the college’s associate dean for undergraduate programs, developing a new faculty mentoring program for the college. Pedersen was also instrumental in developing the college’s Wine and Viticulture program, leading it through its first four years. In her new role, Pedersen said she will be focused on fulfilling the university’s strategic planning goals.

New Head of Food Science and Nutrition Department Stephanie Jung was named the head of the Food Science and Nutrition Department in June 2019. Jung, who earned a doctorate in agricultural and food science from the National School for Engineers in Nancy, France, specializes in converting agricultural and food waste into feed, food, fuel and pharmaceutical applications. She joined Cal Poly in 2014 as a food science professor and was named a faculty fellow in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science’s Dean’s Office in August 2018. She was appointed to the position following the departure of former department head Job Ubbink, who left the university for another position.


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Meet Our New Faculty Mohammed Abo-Ismail Department: Animal Science Department Area of Specialty: Animal genetics and genomics Education: Ph.D. in animal molecular genetics and genomics, University of Guelph Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada What book are you currently reading? “The Animal Models” by Lawrence Schaeffer

Terry Lease Department: Wine and Viticulture Area of Specialty: Wine business Education: Ph.D. in business administration, University of Southern California Hometown: Dallas, Texas What book are you currently reading? “Understanding Wine Technology,” by David Bird

Shashika Hewavitharana Department: Horticulture and Crop Science and the Strawberry Center Area of Specialty: Plant pathology Education: Ph.D. in plant pathology, Washington State University Hometown: Matara, Sri Lanka What book are you currently reading? “Teaching College: The ultimate guide to lecturing, presenting, and engaging students,” by Norman Eng

Seeta Sistla Department: Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences Area of Specialty: Soil ecology, soil carbon cycling, global climate change Education: Ph.D. in ecology, UC Santa Barbara Hometown: Albany, New York What book are you currently reading? “The Blind Assassin” by Margret Atwood




New faculty took a two-day bus trip prior to the start of the fall quarter to meet with industry partners, many of whom have strong ties to Cal Poly, to learn new ways to collaborate across the college’s nine departments to address current and future industry needs. Our thanks to: J.G. Boswell Company, Bee Sweet Citrus, Minturn Nut Company, Dust Bowl Brewing, G3 Enterprises, E. & J. Gallo Winery and Foxy Fresh Produce.


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THE PLANT SCIENCES COMPLEX PRELIMINARY PLANS The complex will include three buildings across 5.5 acres of land:

a high-tech greenhouse encompassing more than 40,000 square feet of space

A growing population. A reduction in farm acreage. Shifts in climate and water sources. The grand challenges facing agriculture require the best minds. At Cal Poly, we are developing tomorrow’s leaders, today. A new, state-of-the-art Plant Sciences Complex is rooted in an interdisciplinary approach to conducting world-class teaching and research to prepare our graduates to meet these challenges. This project will be entirely funded by private donations.

a two-story lab building with approximately 36,000 square feet


Give online at and an approximately 13,500-square-foot building for fruit and vegetable processing

C O N TA C T :


Assistant Dean of Advancement and External Relations


California Polytechnic State University 1 Grand Avenue San Luis Obispo, California 93407-0250



STAY CONNECTED WITH US: /calpoly.cafes /calpoly_cafes /calpoly_cafes


Cultivate Fall 2019