This has been a year of administrative changes. Director Kassim Al-Khatib was awarded the Melvin D. Androus Endowed Professor for Weed Science position in the UC Davis Plant Science Department in July. I was honored to be asked to be the interim director while there was a national search for his replacement. Dr. James Farrar, formerly director of the Western IPM Center, started as the new director of the UC Statewide IPM Program in October.
Although the leadership has changed in 2015, the UC IPM Program continues to address pest management issues critical to Californians and our environment. Some of these are highlighted here and online. The Program provides extension of important IPM research to growers, schools, natural resource managers, and agencies throughout California, and often nationally and internationally.
In 2015, we increased our capacity to do so by hiring two new IPM advisors; one, Dr. Siavash Taravati, focusing on structural pests such as termites, ants, and cockroaches, and based in Los Angeles County, and the other, Dr. Jhalendra Rijal, working in crops important to the North San Joaquin Valley.
A major accomplishment for 2015 was the completion of the Strategic Plan for the Program, which will help guide us for the next 10 years (2015–2025). This plan was developed with input from numerous stakeholders and has 5 goals: some goals that address internal efficiencies and some that will help improve external relationships.
One of the goals that I think will have the most overarching impact is "Building New and Strengthening Existing Partnerships and Collaborations." As you read through our 2015 Highlights annual report, you will see that the UC IPM Program works with diverse partners and collaborators, but we want to do more. Involving non-traditional partners, as well as enhancing our relationships with current ones, will help us identify new opportunities and leverage resources to improve the economic viability and environmental health of California.