Portrait of Zentmyer, George A.

Zentmyer, George A.

May 29, 1998

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George Zentmyer, distinguished National Academy of Sciences (NAS) member, discusses the partnership between the campus and the agriculture community and the impact he had in nurturing that relationship.
Excerpt from Transcript
Erickson: Agriculture was a very dominant force in this whole area, was it not?

Zentmyer: Yes, especially citrus here in Riverside. But it eventually got into I am not sure how many, but a wide variety of crops, perhaps forty or fifty different crops: avocados; all sorts of vegetables; grass, different types of grasses for golf courses and so forth. So it has expanded. Of course, the two major crops are still citrus and avocado. We work on all sorts of problems.

You asked a question about how a person makes contact with the university. Now, that was a good thing about the university. It developed this extension service fairly early in the life of the university and had farm advisors

Erickson: Now, is this when it was still the Experiment Station?

Zentmyer: Well, now they still have this network of extension people, farm advisors around the state. That was how people who had problems made contact through the farm advisors in their county or through grower groups.

Each crop has its own special group, like the avocado committee and the citrus board, and they would contact those people and then get in touch with us to see what problems they had and what needed working on.

So that was a very good cooperation, the extension people and the university. It's going to some extent, less than it was, of course, in the early days. They don't do as much field work as they used to.

There is a lot more emphasis on the basic research, all sorts of problems. You may want to get into that a little later. The problem was basic research and the Experiment Station still doing some so-called applied research, field work and so forth.

But there is a lot of emphasis now on molecular biology and all sorts of fancy new nomenclatures. We are making a lot of progress scientifically, both in what they call the applied and the basic, very complicated more esoteric-type of research. You get into all sorts of things.

You see all these buzzwords in the literature on biodiversity and molecular biology and conservation biology. I don't know whether you want to get into that now or a little later, probably not too much. But there are some tremendous advances being made.

Questions Regarding this Oral History Project should be directed to Jan Erickson at jan.erickson@ucr.edu.