News and Notes - Fall 2022

University Outstanding Staff Award

Aaron Lazanoff, beef operations manager in the Animal Science Department, was awarded the university’s Outstanding Staff Award for 2021-22. Individuals selected for this recognition are nominated and chosen by their colleagues and peers. His peers recognized his efforts as one of the first crews to bring Swanton Pacific Ranch livestock and horses to safety during the CZU Lightning Complex fire without the loss of a single animal. He was also commended for his sustainability efforts of improving grazing practices on Cal Poly rangelands, which have set an example for other operations to follow. Lazanoff was formally recognized by the university at the Fall Convocation on Sept. 12.


Faculty Bus Tour

Faculty and staff embarked on an industry bus tour in early September to visit several agricultural partners to learn more about the latest trends and technologies being used in the field. The tour included stops at Gallo’s Courtside Cellars in San Miguel, and Tanimura and Antle, and Braga Fresh in Salinas.


Honored Alumni

Dennis Stroud (Crop Science, '75) was named the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences’ 2022 Honored Alumnus. Stroud has been instrumental in the success of Cal Poly’s Wine and Viticulture Department, connecting the department with leaders throughout the industry, hosting outreach and fundraising events, serving on the department’s inaugural advisory council as well as the fundraising committee to help build the JUSTIN and J. LOHR Center for Wine and Viticulture. He now chairs the newly formed Wine and Viticulture Department Advisory Council.

Stroud, a partner in Vintage Supply Partners, has been affiliated with the wine business for 37 years. Beginning his career as a product specialist developing technology for use in vineyards, he quickly developed relationships with several key industry leaders, leading to a career in fine wine sales. He is consistently available to support the university, college, department and industry, and provides guidance and counsel to faculty, staff and students, serving as a mentor and resource for the wine and viticulture program. Since 1990, he has given nearly $75,000, including a $50,000 gift to support the JUSTIN and J. LOHR Center for Wine and Viticulture, for which he passionately led fundraising efforts.


Plant Sciences Department

Cal Poly’s Horticulture and Crop Science Department has formally changed its name to the Plant Sciences Department. The agricultural and environmental plant sciences major has also been renamed to reflect predominant employment opportunities more accurately for graduates and prospective students. The department, which was formed in 2002, offers curriculum that is designed to train plant scientists who are ready upon graduation to make informed decisions and recommendations regarding sustainable farming or horticultural practices that maximize plant production and protection while minimizing economic, environmental and social impacts. The name change enables the program to clearly convey its academic mission and broaden recruitment of applicants who may or may not have a background in agriculture and allow them to be successful in robust careers throughout California and beyond as production managers, agronomists, horticulturalists, food safety technicians, pest control advisors, certified crop advisors, and sales representatives. Within the plant sciences major, students can focus on three concentrations: environmental horticultural sciences, fruit and crop science and plant protection science.


Annual Faculty and Staff Awards



Jaymie Noland, Animal Science


Erin Gorter, Agricultural Education and Communication


Lisa Wallravin, Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences


Lauren Garner, Plant Sciences


Shohreh Niku, Wine and Viticulture / Food Science and Nutrition


Seeta Sistla, Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences


Bree Hugins, Food Science and Nutrition


Michael La Frano, Food Science and Nutrition


Tim Delbridge, Agribusiness


Brian Larson, Animal Science


Meet Our New Faculty


DEPARTMENT: Agribusiness
AREA OF SPECIALTY: Entrepreneurship and innovation
EDUCATION: Doctorate in agriculture and applied economics from the University of Missouri
HOMETOWN: Centralia, Missouri
CURRENTLY READING: “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck
FUN FACT: As a kid I wanted to be an Olympian pole vaulter when I grew up.


DEPARTMENT: Animal Science
AREA OF SPECIALTY: Large animal internal medicine, livestock emphasis; food animal physiology
EDUCATION: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from UC Davis, master’s degree in clinical sciences from Colorado State University, completion of a three-year large animal internal medicine residency with a livestock focus from Colorado State University
HOMETOWN: Torrance, California
CURRENTLY READING: “Large Animal Internal Medicine,” as I’m studying for board exams to become a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, large animal
FUN FACT: I share the same birthday as my 10-year-old Cal Poly Quarter Horse gelding, “Mr. Strawberry.” I bred the mare via artificial insemination as a student at Cal Poly and bought him as a 2-year-old colt at the Cal Poly Performance Horse Sale in 2014.


DEPARTMENT: Agribusiness
AREA OF SPECIALTY: Agricultural economics, law, and policy
EDUCATION: Doctorate in agricultural and resource economics from UC Davis
HOMETOWN: San Jose, California
CURRENTLY READING: “Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir
FUN FACT: I love to be in the water, and I once swam to shore from Alcatraz.


Holiday Cheese Sales

The Cal Poly Creamery has new award-winning cheeses and traditional favorites, available in a variety of gift box arrangements. The holiday sale kicks off in November. Subscription boxes are a unique way to celebrate the season with a gift that keeps on giving into the new year and a convenient way to share Mustang Pride! Shop early from the comfort and convenience of home. You will find something special for everyone on your list. Stay tuned on social media @calpolycreameryslo for the holiday launch and online at Thank you for supporting our students and Cal Poly's Learn by Doing tradition!


Calendar of Upcoming Events

DEC. 10 Fall Commencement
JAN. 25 Alumni and Friends Reception at Unified Wine and Grape Symposium
FEB. 15 Alumni and Friends Reception at World Ag Expo
APRIL 7-9 Cal Poly Open House
APRIL 8 Poly Royal Rodeo



Visit Cultivate Fall 2022 to read more stories.

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