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E-news #004: Fall 2005

In This Issue

Executive Director Message

By Clare M. Hasler

Autumn is here, the harvest is winding down, students are back, bicycles are everywhere, and we're off to a great new academic year for the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science!

Those of you who have had an opportunity to drive past the future academic building next to Old Davis Road will see that excavation is in full swing. Allen Lowry, senior project manager with Architects & Engineers, provides a brief update on the construction below (RMI Update). We hope to have a live cam up in the near future so that even those who don't live in the area can keep up with the construction over the next 2 ½ years.

As we await the grand opening in spring 2008, we will continue to host premier events such as our semi-annual lectureship. The 2005 Fall Lectureship on October 12 at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts was an overwhelming success. Approximately 150 attended very lively, informative, and entertaining presentations by two of our Honorary Board members: Fritz Maytag, owner of Anchor Brewing Company, and Martin Yan, master chef and television personality (Yan Can Cook).

From the cooking demonstration — where Chef Yan de-boned a chicken in less than 16 seconds and Professor Charlie Bamforth stir fried the results — to the fabulous luncheon featuring Maytag's Anchor Steam beer and York Creek Vineyards fine wine, the day was a pure delight. See the full story by Tom Fuller and photo gallery at (Events).

Other planned conferences include Terroir 2006 (March 19 - 22), a partnership with the UC Davis Department of Geology. This international conference is rapidly gaining recognition as the premier event of its kind. Keep up-to-date on the full details by viewing the conference Web site,

More recently, RMI has agreed to co-sponsor "From Farfel to Falafel: Food, Wine and Jewish Culture." This event will take place at UC Davis, from Sunday evening, May 14, to Tuesday, May 16, 2006, and is sponsored by the RMI along with the UC Davis Program in Jewish Studies and the Judah Magnes Museum in Berkeley.

Conferences and other related events are clearly a significant way that the RMI engages its stakeholders and the public. However, UC Davis is one of the nation's top public research universities. And, in keeping with that mission, I am very pleased to announce that, because of generous support from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the RMI is launching three research centers. These multi-disciplinary research centers will further enhance our vision, "Enhancing the quality of life through wine and food sciences," and enable us to more fully serve our constituents. See article below for the full story.

I wish you all the best for a bountiful harvest season!

Clare Signature



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RMI Site Improvement

By Allen Lowry

Construction Photo
This large hole at the RMI site will remain as the RMI basement, located under the south lab wing

The construction effort for the academic building of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science is proceeding in line with the original schedule plan despite some setbacks during the design, approval, and funding phases. The project was divided into phases in order to allow limited work to begin on schedule (Summer 2005).

The first phase prepares the site for the building by creating a firm earthwork base, allowing the use of inexpensive spread footings. The early campus-funded project, now almost completed, provides all-weather site roads, weatherproof building and storage pads, and installs critical early utilities such as water, electricity, and drainage that will allow rapid progress during the winter months.

The main bidding package for the buildings is now out to bid, and cost proposals from larger contractors are due before Thanksgiving. If all goes well, accelerated work will be visible on site by January 1, 2006.

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Darcie Bransford Joins RMI Team

By Allison Chilcott

It is with great pleasure that we announce that Darcie Bransford has joined the College Advancement Team for the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science as director of major gifts.

Bransford had been with the Department of Athletics at Stanford University since 1996, where she gained experience in media relations, special events, community outreach, and annual giving. As the associate director of development at Stanford, she developed and implemented fundraising strategies for capital projects and endowed scholarships.

In her new role at UC Davis, Bransford's initial focus will be to raise the remaining funds needed for construction of the Department of Viticulture and Enology's research and teaching winery associated with the RMI.

Please join us in welcoming Darcie Bransford to our college and to the RMI team!

Carl Keen Selected as Mars Endowed Chair

By Melissa Haworth

Carl Keen
Carl Keen

Carl Keen, chair of the Department of Nutrition and member of the RMI Executive Committee, was recently selected to hold a new faculty chair endowed in developmental nutrition by Mars, Inc.

Mars Inc., operated by the Mars family, believes that the keys to the health of future generations are held in nutrition. In pursuit of that idea, the company recently donated $1 million to UC Davis to endow the first chair in the Department of Nutrition. As chair holder, Keen will receive additional support for his research in the area of developmental nutrition.

According to UC Davis studies, babies in utero are the most vulnerable to their mother's diets as they grow and develop. But many mothers don't have the resources or education to eat the right kinds of foods, even in today's modern world. In America, one in 33 children is born with a birth defect. And 40 percent of children in third world countries have stunted growth due to a zinc deficiency.

Keen and other researchers in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis are showing the ultimate importance of nutrients such as zinc, copper, and folate to help babies be born healthy. Keen is trying to discover the best fruits and vegetables for babies to eat in the first years of life in order to live even longer and healthier lives.

"The seeds of aging are planted in the womb. What you consume in utero and in your first year of life affects your health even at 50 years old," Keen said.

Congratulations to Carl Keen on this distinct honor and recognition of his scholarly achievements.

Daniel Sperling Speaks on Capitol Hill

By Jean Wigglesworth

Dan Sperling

Dan Sperling, director of the UC Davis Institute for Transportation Studies, professor of civil engineering and environmental science and policy, and member of the RMI Executive Committee, spoke on Capitol Hill on two occasions this past summer. He was a featured speaker in a briefing to explore the policy issues surrounding the development and growth of the market for alternative transportation fuels. He also testified at an oversight hearing of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy and Resources, chaired by U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). Sperling discussed the progress made in the U.S. toward hydrogen economy.

Additional information: UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies,

Pamela Tom Selected "Technologist of the Biennium"

By Charlie Bamforth

Pamela Tom
Pamela Tom

Pamela Tom, manager of California Sea Grant Extension's Seafood Technology Program, has been selected as Technologist of the Biennium by the International Association of Fish Inspectors (IAFI). The award was presented during the World Congress on Seafood Safety, Quality and Trade in Sydney, Australia, Sept. 14-16, 2005.

In its selection of Tom, the IAFI ( Awards Committee stated: "Pamela Tom runs California Sea Grant's Seafood Technology Program, an internationally recognized and highly used resource. Tom coordinates the program's training workshops, assists with research projects, and writes educational materials for consumers and industry. She also creates and maintains the program's Internet mailing lists and its Seafood Network Information Center Web site (SeafoodNIC,, recognized worldwide by industry and government as a one-stop source of seafood information."

Tom, an alumna of the UC Davis, has won numerous awards in her 23 years working for Sea Grant. She is a fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists.

"The most rewarding part of this job is working cooperatively with industry, regulatory, and other academic institutions in providing seafood technology and safety outreach information to food processors, regulators, and consumer educators — both nationally and internationally," Tom says.

NOAA's California Sea Grant College Program is a statewide, multi-university program of marine research, extension services, and education activities administered by the University of California. It is the largest of 30 Sea Grant programs and is headquartered at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. The National Sea Grant College Program is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.

Please join us in applauding Pam Tom for her tremendous success and this wonderful honor.

Chiquita Appoints Clare M. Hasler to Board of Directors

By Jean Wigglesworth

Clare Hasler-Lewis

Chiquita Brands International, a leading international marketer and distributor of high-quality fresh and value-added produce, has named Clare M. Hasler, executive director of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, as the newest member of its Board of Directors.

"We are delighted to welcome Clare to Chiquita's board," said Fernando Aguirre, chairman and chief executive officer. "Her extensive experience in food science, nutrition, and food safety will help Chiquita as we continue to focus on delivering healthy and convenient food choices. Clare's leadership and ability to bridge the worlds of academia, industry, and the public will diversify an already strong group of independent board members whose vision and experience will continue to advance Chiquita's sustainable growth strategy."

Hasler's appointment follows Chiquita's successful acquisition of the Fresh Express brand in June, and comes amid analyst expectation of a 10 percent increase in the long term sales growth for the company.

Chiquita's Board of Directors now has nine members. In addition to Aguirre and Hasler, directors include: Morten Arntzen, president and chief executive officer for Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc., an oceangoing vessel operator; Jeffrey Benjamin, senior advisor to the private investment firm of Apollo Management, L.P.; Robert Fisher, Chiquita's former acting chief operating officer with more than 35 years senior management experience at various banana companies; Roderick Hills, chairman of Hills Enterprises Ltd., an investment consulting firm, and former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission under President Ford; Durk Jager, former chairman, president and chief executive officer at the Procter & Gamble Co.; Jaime Serra, senior partner of Serra Associates International, a consulting firm in law and economics, and Mexico's former secretary of finance and secretary of trade and industry; and Steven Stanbrook, president, Asia and Americas, at S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., a manufacturer of consumer products.

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RMI Fall 2005 Lectureship

By Tom Fuller

Proving not only that "Yan Can Cook!" but also that "Fritz Can Brew!" — the RMI held the third lecture in its lectureship series on Wednesday, October 12, 2005. Master chef and UC Davis alumnus Martin Yan and Anchor Steam Brewing Company president and owner Fritz Maytag proved to be an informative and most entertaining combination.

Maytag shared his thoughts with over 140 attendees at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts Studio Theatre on why "Small is Wonderful." Taking the audience briefly through his family's history and the amazing story of how he took the struggling Anchor Steam Brewing Company and created one of the world's most respected micro-breweries and distillers, Maytag wove his philosophy on the positive attributes of small business throughout his presentation. He also touched on his newest venture, the York Creek Vineyards and winery. Guests enjoyed both his Anchor Steam beers and York Creek wines at the lunch following the lecture.

Master chef Martin Yan enthralled the attendees with stories of his humble family origins and upbringing. He credited his mother with providing him the love of cooking, stating that she was the "greatest natural born cook" he'd ever known, besides his dear friend, the late Julia Child. With stories of apprenticing for 16 hours a day in restaurants in China, through his hilarious first appearance on television, to his rise as one of the most prolific chefs in the world, Yan kept the audience captivated — often crediting his time as a UC Davis student with contributing to his success.

But the action really started when Yan took to the wok and cleaver, thrilling the attendees with a cooking demonstration that showcased both his mastery as a chef, and great skill as an entertainer. He even brought up Charlie Bamforth, chair of the Department of Food Science Technology, to assist in a comical bit. Bamforth proved he's no slouch, as he wielded the wok and cleaver with great finesse.

Yan left the audience with a bit of wisdom: "Don't eat to live, live to eat."

The next RMI Lecture will be held in the spring of 2006. Stay tuned for further details.

Polyphenols Conference

By Andrew Waterhouse

The 2nd International Conference on Polyphenols and Health was held at UC Davis October 4 - 7, 2005. The meeting had an international slate of speakers, as well as global representation among attendees. There were over 70 industry representatives among the 250 who came to hear the scientific presentations and discussions. The conference was organized by health topic, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurobiology, and other areas, but there were several presentations that showed unexpected health effects of polyphenolics. The four days included a well-attended poster session.

Some of the findings which attracted our attention include:

  • Clear effects of polyphenols on established surrogate markers of cardiovascular diseases
  • Far better understanding of the biological effects involved in the protective effects of polyphenols against cardiovascular diseases, on different tissues (vessels, heart muscle, etc.) and different physiological process (angiogenesis, ischemia, etc.)
  • Growing interest on polyphenols and neurodegenerative diseases
  • New and exciting results on metabolic syndrome, fat metabolism, and insulin sensitivity
  • Poor connections between mechanistic in vitro studies and in vivo studies, particularly in humans
  • It is not clear yet, what are the effective doses, and are we able to measure these effects at nutritional as opposed to pharmaceutical doses?
  • Lack of integration between pharmacokinetic and biological studies
  • Growing interest for the effects of the microflora

At the conclusion of the meeting, there was a panel discussion to address the future goals of research in the field and several important points were brought up by the panelists and the audience. Gary Williamson pointed out how much progress had been made in just a few years, especially in understanding the pharmacodynamics of polyphenolics.

There was a clear consensus that antioxidant activity is not directly related to any health effects, but is simply a biomarker for the presence of polyphenolics, a marker that can be confounded by constitutive antioxidants. The beneficial effect of phenolics now appears to be its effects on cell signaling, and several speakers made this point. Barry Halliwell called for a clear, clinical demonstration of a human health benefit from polyphenolics. This raised a brief discussion of how that might be accomplished, and some called for controlled long-term clinical human trials with disease endpoints, while others felt short term tests with marker endpoints were the only practical experiments that could be accomplished. Giovanni Mann emphasized the value of controlled animal trials over human trials where so many variables are impossible to control. Sylvia Mandel emphasized the importance of "omics" analysis of treatments in giving scientists a view of the forest instead of a few trees. Steve Barnes supported this call and even suggested neurological effects of dietary polyphenolics by neural transmission directly from the gut to the brain.

Overall, the meeting was hailed as a great success due to the high quality of the speakers and the good organization. The 3rd conference will take place in 2007, and details will be announced shortly.

Conference speakers, organizers, and guests were treated to a post-conference trip to the Beringer Winery in St. Helena on Friday evening. Established in 1876, Beringer is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Napa Valley. Following a tour of the winery, the group gathered in the Hudson House for an education on the nuances of food and wine pairing by Jerry Comfort, gourmet chef and culinary director for the winery. Dispelling the typical myths and moving beyond "red wine with red meat," Jerry shared his innovative ideas and concepts in his unique and highly entertaining style. The evening concluded with a gourmet dinner featuring premium Beringer wines — a fantastic way to end the week in Northern California!

Upcoming Events:


RMI Plans to Launch Three Research Centers

By Clare Hasler

Three research centers will be launched within the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science over the course of the next several months. The formation of these centers will serve as an organizational centerpiece for the RMI and an effective portal for interaction with our stakeholders in various facets of the wine and food-related industries. The centers, announced following a competitive process initiated last December, are:

  • Center for Advanced Materials, Methods and Processing
  • Center for Excellence in Fruit and Vegetable Quality
  • Center for Wine Economics and Business

John Krotcha
John Krotcha

The Center for Advanced Materials, Methods and Processing is led by Professor John Krochta, Department of Food Science and Technology. The mission of this center is: Sustainable processing of agricultural products for healthful, high-quality foods and beverages and high-value co-products.

Diane Barrett
Diane Barrett
The Center for Excellence in Fruit and Vegetable Quality is led by Diane Barrett, specialist in cooperative extension, Department of Food Science and Technology. The mission of this center is: Utilization of an interdisciplinary approach to improve the quality of fruits and vegetables, particularly those grown in California, and educate a cadre of young scientists well versed in the disciplines relevant to enhancement of quality for the U.S. fruit and vegetable industry.

The Center for Wine Economics and Business is led by Rachael Goodhue, associate professor in the Department of Agricultural

Rachael Goodhue
Rachael Goodhue
and Resource Economics. This center will focus on the economic analysis of the wine and grape industries, including integrating the analysis of economic factors into interdisciplinary studies regarding wine production.

Keep up-to-date on the activities of each of these centers in the future through our Web site,

RMI in the news

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Contributors to "RMI E-newsletter"

  • Clare M. Hasler, Executive Director, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, (530) 754-6349,
  • Allen Lowry, Sr. Project Manager, Architects & Engineers, (530) 757-3391,
  • Leslie Butler, Marketing Specialist, Agricultural & Resource Economics, (530) 752-3681,
  • Rachael Goodhue, Associate Professor, Agricultural & Resource Economics, (530) 754-7812,
  • Jill McCluskey, Associate Professor of Marketing and Agribusiness in the School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University, (509) 335-6653,
  • Melissa Haworth, Director of Major Gifts, CA&ES Dean's Office, (530) 754-8562,
  • Patricia Glass, Administration/Event Coordinator, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, (530) 754-6349,
  • Ann Filmer, Director of Communications, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, (530) 754-6788,


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