Double mentoring success: Sarah Brickman and Nall Moonillal receive the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research



PhD student Sarah Brickman and postdoctoral researcher Nall Moonillal have been honored with the highest recognition on campus for their outstanding role in mentoring undergraduate research. This award celebrates their exceptional contributions to guiding undergraduate students in research and/or creative activities.

During the Winter of 2024, Sarah and Nall spearheaded a comprehensive professional development series for their undergraduate mentees. This program involved weekly meetings featuring tailored activities aimed at providing students with a solid theoretical foundation in their research area, alongside the essential skills necessary for effective research presentations. The series covered diverse topics such as navigating scientific literature, analyzing and discussing findings from scholarly articles, processing and evaluating laboratory data, creating visual representations, refining presentation techniques, and crafting research posters.

Vivian Liu (left) and Ivy Israel (right) present the results of their research projects at the Winter 2024 Lazcano Lab research symposium.

The culmination of this professional development initiative was a research symposium where the undergraduate researchers showcased their findings. Remarkably, two of the students went on to present their work at the prestigious UC Davis Undergraduate Research Conference.

Ivy Israel and Zachary Orlando-Milbauer represent the Lazcano Lab at the 2024 UC Davis Undergraduate Research Conference

Ivy and Zack, undergraduate students in Environmental Management and Restoration and Sustainable Agricultural Systems respectively, presented their research project at the 35th  UC Davis Annual Undergraduate Research Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference. Their work, which investigates the connections between soil C and water cycling in vineyards of the Napa Valley, was very well received by the participants of the conference. This work culminates several months of hard work, starting with a long sampling campaign across 16 vineyards in Napa and following with an extensive suite of laboratory soil physical and chemical analysis. Zack and Ivy were supervised by Dr. Nall Moonillal (postdoctoral scholar) and Sarah Brickmam (graduate student in Soils and Biogeochemistry). We feel extremely proud and happy to have such brilliant students in the team.


Bruna Vaz presents at the CCarbon Soil Health Symposium in Brazil

Bruna Vaz presented her work on vineyard deep soil C at the CCarbon Soil Health Symposium at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. Bruna visited the Lazcano lab for 6 months in  2022 and worked side by side with PhD candidate Connie Wong, investigating how C gets stored in vineyard subsoils (30-100 cm depth). Bruna recently started a graduate program in Ecology at Unicamp, working with landscape ecology, with professor Simone Aparecida Vieira. Way to go Bruna!



Lab Members Participate in the South West Groundwater and Sustainable Agricultural Systems Symposium

From left to right, Charlie Reis, Sarah Brickman, and Nall Moonillal

Members of the Lazcano Laboratory attended the 2nd Annual South West Groundwater and Sustainable Agricultural Systems Symposium in Phoenix, Arizona. This event brought together teams of researchers from UC Davis, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Fresno State, University of Arizona, and New Mexico State University to showcase their current projects and discuss the future of irrigated agriculture in the South West. 

Advisory board members present current challenges and solutions

The Lazcano Lab team included members: Dr. Nall Moonilal (Postdoctoral Researcher), Sarah Brickman (PhD Student), and Raymond “Charlie” Reis (Junior Specialist). Each team member designed and presented a poster highlighting their most recent findings. Congratulations to Dr. Moonilal for his poster winning 2nd place amongst the postdoctoral researchers!

Dr. Moonilal in action


New article: Nature-based strategies to regenerate the functioning and biodiversity of vineyards

As a result of a workshop hosted by the University of Cadiz (Spain) in March 2023, our lab had the opportunity to work with a team of Spanish researchers to write this collaborative paper. In this article, we provide an overview of nature-based management strategies that may be used for the regeneration of the functioning and biodiversity of vineyards and that may also lead to improved plant nutrition, grape berry quality and the suppression of pathogens and pests. These strategies include the use of microbial and nonmicrobial biostimulants, fertilization with organic amendments as well as foliar fertilization with nature-based products, the use of cover crops and the reintegration of livestock in vineyards, especially sheep. We will also pay special attention to the implementation of circular economy in the vineyard in relation to the previously mentioned management strategies and will also discuss the importance of considering all these aspects from a holistic and integrative perspective, rather than taking them into account as single factors. Assuming the integral role of soils in the functioning of agroecosystems, soils will be considered transversally across all sections. Finally, we will argue that the time is now ripe for innovation from the public and private sectors to contribute to the sustainable management of vineyards while maintaining, or even improving, the profit margin for farmers and winemakers. The full article can be accessed here: