Department Chair Message: Joe DiTomaso

ditomaso_w2-resizeWelcome to “The Leaf”

Since the merger of four departments (Agronomy and Range Science, Environmental Horticulture, Pomology, and Vegetable Crops) into the Department of Plant Sciences in December 2004, the new department has only known one chair — Professor Chris van Kessel. Chris was an exceptional and inspirational leader as he molded the new department into what it is today.

After 12 years as the department chair, Chris stepped down as of June 30 and will officially retire in December of this year. As the new interim chair, I would like to introduce myself to the many alumni, industry partners, academics, and other affiliates of the Plant Sciences department. I am a Cooperative Extension specialist and professor and have spent my career as a weed scientist focusing on understanding the biology, ecology, and management of invasive plants in natural areas. I will serve as the interim chair until July 1, 2017, until we hire a new chair.

I would like to welcome you to the first edition of The Leaf, the electronic newsletter from the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. As a department, we thank you for your support over the years, as we work collectively to improve agriculture and protect our environmental resources in California and around the world. The goal of this newsletter is to provide you with an update of what is happening in the department. In this quarterly newsletter we will bring you news and information on all the important developments in the department, including activities related to people, research, outreach, and student education.

Perhaps the biggest change that is occurring in the department is the rapid rate of new hires (and retirements) in the current year. We are in various stages (from completed to early phases) of hiring seven new faculty members. This pace will continue for some years as many of our senior faculty retire. These new hires include a postharvest physiologist, tree crop breeder, crop modeler, weed physiologist, stress physiologist, rangeland scientist, and, of course, the new chair. In the current and future newsletters you will be hearing more about our new faculty.

Again, thank you for all your support and we welcome any feedback and suggestions you may have.

Joe DiTomaso, Department chair

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