Pistachio industry gives 1M $ for applied research
University of California will create two endowed chairs to address tree nut challenges
Two new endowed chairs within the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources -UCANR- will be funded from $1 million donated by the California Pistachio Research Board -CPRB-. The donation leverages an equal match UC President Janet Napolitano promised to dedicate in an effort to improve applied research funding at the land grant university. The money will fund applied research within the division’s cooperative extension program. The announcement was made at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center by new UCANR Vice President Glenda Humiston, who in her first few months on the job indicates a desire to seek innovative ways to fund important agricultural research by the university. Humiston told Western Farm Press that the funding is part of Napolitano’s presidential matching program for endowed chairs. In short, Napolitano said she would match $500,000 from industry or private contributions to create endowed chairs. “I’m excited about this because it’s the first time we’ve done one of these,” Humiston said of the endowed chairs within UCANR. Humiston said future endowed chairs within the UCANR system could be forthcoming as discussions are currently under way with organizations. The two presidential endowed chairs will address various challenges facing tree nut growers, and not be solely dedicated to pistachios, said Bill Frost, associate vice president of UCANR. “The Pistachio Research Board was very generous when they donated this money not to make it specific to pistachios,” Frost says. “This research can go to help other tree nut crops.” The first chair will address tree nut genetics; a second will tackle soil science and plant water relations. According to Frost, who said the competitive application process will be open to cooperative extension advisors and specialists. Because the positions will draw from existing UCANR staff the money invested from the endowments will supplement the university’s research and outreach budget to benefit tree nut programs. A group of university and industry officials will review proposals submitted and award the chairs accordingly, Frost says. Frost expects to release requests for proposals shortly and have the chairs filled through the competitive application process by the first of the year. The positions will be awarded for five years with the opportunity for existing chairs to reapply if they wish. Frost says a committee of industry and university officials will review the applications and award the chairmanships.